It was reported in today’s Yorkshire Evening Post that the NGT trolleybus project has a £20 million funding gap. Metro’s chairman, Councillor James Lewis claims to be unfazed by the news. When the gap was announced in a report to his colleagues on the council’s Executive Board, he said that it could be made good by re-valuing upwards land that had been acquired by the council years ago. He also said they wouldn’t have to find the money all at once, and that the scheme might cost less that the estimated £250 million.
At the start of this year, MP Greg Mulholland flew to Budapest to learn about trolleybuses. During his visit, he was told by a representative of the body that administers Budapest’s transport, that trolleybuses do not lead to increased use of public transport. He was also told that Budapest would like to buy battery powered buses. Subsequently, at a meeting in this country he was told by another representative from Budapest, that the only reason Budapest hasn’t already scrapped its trolleybuses and bought diesel buses, is because they can’t afford to.
And yet despite this, on the 4th July, Mr Mulholland submitted an early day motion to parliament calling for the government to approve funding for the NGT trolleybus scheme in Leeds.
The following day on a secret visit to Leeds, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg announced that funding had been approved, subject to NGT passing the necessary hurdles.
The suspicion is that this was a political decision, not based on the merits or otherwise of the NGT proposal.
And the question arises, why should we pay for MPs like Greg Mulholland to fly abroad on fact finding missions, when they simply ignore the facts that they learn on these trips?
(photo courtesy of Bruno!)
In the late 1990s, the city of Edmonton was considering whether to continue running trolleybuses. A report was produced by consultants Booz Allen Hamilton which found that trolleybuses had higher capital and operating costs and are more polluting than both diesel and hybrid buses. The emission factors in the table below were extracted from the table on page 33 of the report.
As a result of this damning report, Edmonton scrapped its trolleybus system, and began a trial of hybrid buses.
95% of the electricity generated in Alberta comes from the burning of fossil fuels. This compares with 72.5% in the UK. These percentages have been factored into the emission factors for trolleybuses in the table above, to arrive at adjusted figures indicating the likely emissions from the proposed NGT trolleybuses.
THC – total hydrocarbons
CO – carbon monoxide
NOX – nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide
PM10 – particulate matter of less than 10 micrometers
PM2.5 – particulate matter of less than 2.5 micrometers
CO2 – carbon dioxide
The trolleybus lobby keep telling us that trolleybuses are more energy efficient than diesel buses. The internet is flooded with their misinformation. For example:
The Tbus Group who claim, “the trolleybus is more than twice as energy efficient as the diesel”
The Trolley Coalition, who say exactly the same thing.
Trolleybuses for West London who also say exactly the same thing.
There are lots more examples of the same misinformation being repeated over and over again.
This quote from a New Scientist article published in 1976 states the true position regarding the energy efficiency of trolleybuses:
Photo courtesy of Adam E Moreira
The Yorkshire Evening Post has recently published several letters calling for Leeds to have an underground system.
To those who think an underground system would be too expensive, Janet Bailey points out that tunneling is cheaper now than it used to be. Hannah Johnson points out that other European cities are building underground systems whilst Leeds gets left behind. D Birch says that private companies should be invited to provide us with an underground system. Terry Allinson says there should be an underground link between Leeds and Bradford. And George Horsman informs us that back in the 1930s, Leeds City Council had detailed plans for building an underground system.
The Yorkshire Evening Post has published several letters recently that criticise the NGT trolleybus scheme.
There were letters from Bill McKinnon and Dawn Carey Jones who are concerned about the plan to route the trolleybuses across a section of Woodhouse Moor. Andrew Batty points out that the trolleybuses will be bendybuses with wires, and that bendybuses have been scrapped elsewhere because they are cumbersome and unpopular. Peter Brash makes it clear that trolleybuses will just add to congestion. Kim Cowell relates how Transport for London ruled out the use of trolleybuses in London on the grounds of inefficiency and cost. Sarah Sullivan reveals that the Department of Transport estimate that the NGT trolleybus scheme will cost Leeds businesses in excess of £200 million.
An earlier incarnation of NGT was the failed Electrobus scheme of the 1980s. Metro’s original intention in 1980 had been to re-introduce trolleybuses to Bradford. But after two failed attempts to secure government funding, Leeds was included in the scheme, in the hope that this would persuade the government to change its mind.
But the government refused funding again on the ground that the trolleybus would only be economic if it had no competition.
Metro decided to go ahead anyway. But then in 1990, when an independent bus company announced plans to set up a rival bus service along the proposed first trolleybus route in Bradford, Metro withdrew its plan. It had taken them 10 wasted years to finally accept that trolleybuses couldn’t compete economically with diesel buses, the very same reason that trolleybuses were originally withdrawn from service.
The above photograph shows trolleybus wires cluttering up the view of the sky and beautiful buildings in Salzburg.
If the NGT trolleybus scheme is built, trolleybus wires will run all the way from the city centre, through the Headingley, Hyde Park and Woodhouse Moor Conservation Area, and on to Holt Park.
The traffic queues that daily stretch all the way from Headingley Hill to Hyde Park Corner are soon to become a thing of the past. And the jam that stretches from the city centre to the junction with Clarendon Road is also to be consigned to history.
The highways engineers behind NGT have come up with a scheme which will transfer both traffic jams onto the stretch of the A660 that crosses Woodhouse Moor. Currently this is a dual carriageway where traffic flows freely. And as a dual carriageway, it is much wider than the stretches of the A660 to either side of it which daily become jammed with traffic. By cleverly progamming the traffic lights on the the A660, the highways engineers hope to get traffic quickly off the narrower stretches of road, and onto Woodhouse Moor using what is known as a “vehicle stacking system.” By this means, the trolley bus will be able to travel more quickly along the narrower stretches of road to ether side of Woodhouse Moor.
It’s a sad indictment of Leeds City Council that it’s prepared to exploit an inner city park and expose its users, including families with young children, and students, to the emissions produced by stacked traffic.
The emissions produced by stacked traffic.
Annn article in the Yorkshire Evening Post informs us that the NGT trolleybus
An article in the Yorkshire Evening Post informs us that the NGT trolleybus scheme has been given the green light, but fails to mention that the proposed route will take it across Woodhouse Moor. The original idea behind NGT was to get people out of their cars and onto public transport. But somewhere along the line, the planners have lost sight of that. Incredibly, the reason they want NGT to run across the Moor, is so that inbound motorists won’t be held up by the trolleybus at the junction of Woodhouse Lane with Clarendon Road. Don’t they realise that if motorists are held up by the trolleybus at this junction, that’s just the incentive they need to get them out of their cars and onto the bus? Woodhouse Moor is the only one of our inner city moors to have escaped the motorway building frenzy of the sixties and seventies. Now it too is to be sacrificed to the motor car.