Municipal transport in Aberdeen 1898-1975
In the late nineteenth century, and the first seventy years of the twentieth, municipal enterprise in utilities was one of the major functions of local authorities. The process by which Aberdeen took its tramways into municipal ownership is examined, and contrasted with experience in Glasgow Management and direction of the Transport Department by professional managers and politicans was an issue throughout its history. After the First World War, the Department had to deal with pressures of competition and renewal of assets when Aberdeen was undergoing rapid change in population distribution as central areas were cleared and new housing was constructed in outlying areas. The influence of central government became more marked through the financing and planning of these housing estates, and the local government structures in Aberdeen were placed under increasing strain. The failure to co-ordinate planning, housing and transport resulted in fragmented decision-making, and the lack of a transport strategy in particular led to serious mistakes in transport planning and investment. The direction of transport policy was also affected by external factors, including concerns about road safety and traffic congestion. The decision to abandon the tramways is examined in some depth, and it is concluded that their abandonment should have been undertaken earlier, avoiding needless fleet renewal. In the post-tramway period the difficulties facing the Transport Department, of dealing with falling demand and the need to reduce costs, are examined. Throughout the study, the influence of local politicians on decision-making, and the influence of local critics of their policies, are considered.