A very successful year, with significant increases in the total number of passengers carried and the overall revenue generated.
- Total passengers carried increased to 69,542 from 48,722 the previous year.
- Revenue increased to £83,557 from £57,915 the previous year.
- Net subsidy expected not to exceed £60,000.
Responding to a question put by the the Hon. Member for Garrf (Mrs Caine) at the 15th November 2016 sitting of Tynwald, soliciting a statement on the passenger numbers and financial performance of the horse trams during the 2016 season and whether they will be operated in 2017, the Minister for Infrastructure (Mr Harmer) replied:
"The Douglas Bay Horse Tramway has enjoyed a very successful year, with significant increases in the total number of passengers carried and the overall revenue generated.
As Hon. Members are aware, the Department of Infrastructure, with support from Culture Vannin and Manx National Heritage, stepped in to ensure the continuation of the trams this year, following the decision by Douglas Borough Council to end the service. Measures were put in place to reduce the operating costs and to maximise passenger usage and income through the Department’s heritage railways marketing expertise.
As a result of these efforts, the total number of passengers carried in 2016 increased to 69,542 from 48,722 the previous year.
The season was extended from mid-September until the end of October, but in practice operated for only 13 more days than in 2015. The horse trams operated daily during the peak summer period and on a limited basis at other times, in line with the Isle of Man’s other heritage railways.
The revenue taken on the horse trams has also increased from £57,915, to £83,557 this year.
The budget for the horse tramway anticipated a loss of around £100,000 and a number of bodies made offers to contribute towards that total. However, as a result of the 44% increase in revenue, the net deficit is expected to now not exceed £60,000.
I would like to take this opportunity to place on record my thanks for the support of the horse tram staff and those in the heritage railway operation, who pulled together to achieve this impressive turnaround.
We should also recognise the value of our heritage railways to the wider Manx economy. An independent report in 2012 estimated the contribution to be £11 million, and we have invested to grow the sector since then.
In response to the second part of the Question, Tynwald supported the Department’s proposal to operate the Douglas Bay Horse Trams in 2017 and 2018 while discussions continue about the long-term viability of the service. My aim is to secure the long-term future for the horse trams."