Public Inquiry into the Lyon C3 trolleybus route

Image courtesy of Wikimedia cxntributer Billy69510

Image courtesy of Wikimedia cxntributer Billy69510

In Lyon, there is an inquiry going on at the moment into the future of the long-criticised C3 trolleybus line.1 Many want it replaced with a tram. The Greens in particular call the trolleybus “un projet du passé, un projet dépassé” (a project from the past, a project that is out-of-date).2 Where have we heard that before?

They are not alone. The main association for those who use public transport in Lyon insists that « la vocation de cet axe est de devenir un tramway ». (the future for this route is for it to be become a tram).3

Everywhere you look, the trolleybus is seen as an inferior choice. Do some Leeds councillors still really think it reflects “cutting-edge technology” and would improve the image of our city?


Caen to replace its guided trolleybus system with trams

Caen Tram


An article in the International Railway Journal1 reports that Caen is to to replace its guided trolleybus system with a tram system. Apparently the trolleybus system has experienced technical difficulties since opening in 2012. Construction of the new tram system is due to begin at the end of 2017.

The trams will travel at ten minute intervals and carry 210 passengers. The trolleybuses currently carry 128 passengers.

The cost of the scheme is estimated to be €229.8m.


National Transit Database: Trolleybus Injury Statistics

Since 2008, the National Transit Database of the Federal Transit Administration has included extremely detailed urban passenger transport accident statistics.1

The table below has been produced using data extracted from the National Transit Database: Safety and Security Time Series Data. 2


National Transit Database: Safety & Security Time Series Data


Motor BusTrolleybus Motor BusTrolleybus Motor BusTrolleybus

The table shows that whereas on average between 2008 and 2013, trolleybuses travelled 0.60% of the urban vehicle miles travelled by all buses, they accounted for 1.32% of the injuries to cyclists, and 2.20% of the injuries to pedestrians.

This means that a trolleybus is twice as likely as a motor bus to injure a cyclist, and three and a half times as likely as a motor bus to injure a pedestrian.

The following graph illustrates the much higher trolleybus injury rate.


Of the 571 trolleybuses currently operating in the United States (APTA 2012),3 just 119 or 20% are articulated vehicles, which suggests that some factor other than the length of the vehicle is responsible for the significantly higher injury rate of trolleybuses. A possible explanation for the higher injury rate is supplied by Barry J Simpson in Urban Public Transport Today (1994)4

“They are also much quieter than buses, which may be a blessing environmentally but can be a hazard to pedestrians, especially the blind, cyclists and others who may detect a bus coming from behind by sound rather than sight, hence their unfortunate nickname, ‘whispering death’.”

As well as being known as ‘Whispering Death’ in Australia, trolleybuses were known as ‘Silent Death’ and ‘Granny Killers’ in the UK.


An alternative proposal for an efficient urban transportation system


Prof Reinhold Behringer
Leeds, November 2013



There is overall consensus that Leeds needs a modernisation of its public transport system. Road traffic congestion in Leeds and Bradford is the worst in England [12], and several schemes for reducing road traffic by improving public transport have been proposed in recent years. There is an alternative solution for a capable and sustainable urban transport scheme that has not been discussed much: the building of a hanging train network, the H-Train [1]. The main advantage of this concept is immediately apparent: the train does not require changes to the road network, because it can move in the space above it instead of sharing the same road space. Also, the construction is much less intrusive to existing infrastructure and buildings, and the construction cost per mile is lower than of other schemes (Supertram [15], Trolley Bus [17]). The specific design of the hanging rail system is very advantageous in bad weather, because the track is protected from wind, snow and rain by its design. There are several such hanging-train systems already in operation worldwide, and more are currently being built in cities in China (Beijing [6], Shanghai [7]). In the UK, there is no such hanging train system yet, so building this system in Leeds would be seen as highly innovative, and would certainly provide a boost in the esteem of Leeds.

The following pages provide an overview on some of the aspects of the H-Train system and its possible adoption for Leeds. The data in this report can be used for further discussions around the future development of the Leeds Urban Transport System. They were collected from publicly available sources, and references are provided wherever possible.

The Hanging Train Concept

The concept of a hanging train is not a novelty per se: already in 1901 this concept was realised in the construction of the Wuppertaler Schwebebahn [13] in Germany. The booming town of Wuppertal had very little space for additional public transport at that time, and so it was decided to build the train lines in such a way that the trains were hanging from rails above the river Wupper (see Figure 1). It nowadays transports 25 million passengers annually over a distance of 13.3 km (8.3 miles).


bbbbbFigure 1. Left: Wuppertaler Schwebebahn, 1913. Right: Contemporary train of the Wuppertaler Schwebebahn.  Images from Wikipedia [12].

In the 1960s, the French consortium SAFEGE [14] developed this concept further and built several hanging monorail train lines in Japan (Chiba and Shonan). Following these designs, the company Siemens developed the much lighter SIPEM (Siemens People Mover) concept, which was realised as the H-Bahn [2] in Dortmund [4] (1984) with 5,000 passengers daily and at the Airport Düsseldorf [3] (2003) which can transport 2,000 passengers per hour. There are currently further plans to build such lines in China (Beijing [6] and Shanghai [7]) with capacities of up to 12,000 passengers per hour.

bbbbFigure 2. H-Train systems in Düsseldorf and Dortmund. Images from[2][3][4].

These examples show that the technology for the hanging trains is very mature and has proven to work reliably. The technical concepts and improvements are well documented [8][9] since the 1970s.

Fundamental Advantages

The H-Train system as it has evolved until today has several advantages:

  1. Surface infrastructure remains intact. The surface infrastructure of roads and buildings does not need to be significantly altered when constructing and operating an H-Train, because the train will run above the ground. No surface rail tracks need to be laid, no additional bus lanes need to be paved or cut from existing road lanes. The only thing that needs to be done is to erect pillars, from which the elevated track hangs down. These can be put as arches over existing roads, hereby leaving them intact for the existing traffic. This also will preserve listed houses and leave buildings intact.
  2. No negative influence on existing traffic. This principle of the trains floating above the existing infrastructure and traffic also has the effect, that the operation of these trains does not impede this traffic. Operating an H-Train does not cause additional congestion, because it does not take away any space of existing roads.
  3. Not being influenced by existing congestion. The H-Trains are not affected by road traffic congestion as for example trolley busses with shared lanes would be, because the train will simply glide above the traffic.
  4. Quiet operation. The rubber wheels with which the H-Train runs on its rails provide a smooth and quiet ride of the trains even through residential areas. This makes the H-Train suitable for local traffic in quiet neighbourhood areas.
  5. Weatherproof. The track is protected by a continuous cover, protecting it from wind, rain, ice and snow. This is a significant advantage of the H-Train over surface-bound systems such as trams and busses, which suffer in wintry conditions the same problems as the other road traffic too.
  6. Fully autonomous and driverless. The H-Trains are operating without drivers, hereby saving operation cost and providing more efficient space for passengers. A central control hub provides remote control and supervision of all trains that are running on the network.
  7. Small footprint of stations. The carriages are relatively short (about 10 m = 30 ft), and the station platforms need only to be as long as the longest combination of carriages in a train. This is usually 2 carriages, which then requires only a total length of 20 m (60 ft).

These inherent advantages of the H-Train show that this system is truly able to provide additional transport capacity instead of only taking it away from existing transport systems. All cars and busses will be able to run unimpeded by the H-Train concept. And since this train system will be an attractive alternative to passengers for switching from driving their cars to riding the H-Train, this system will indeed reduce road traffic congestion.

Possible Disadvantages

The following possible shortcomings of an H-Train system need to be noted:

  1. How to board an elevated train? One detrimental issue is that the elevation of the train would require passengers who want to board the train, would somehow have to come up to that height. But this is the same issue which does also exist with underground train systems, just the other way round: instead of having to move several levels deeper, passengers somehow need to climb up to the trains. There are several mitigations of this issue: a) The train track can be constructed in such a way that the train at stations is actually near ground level. This will require areas at the side of roads, similar to bus stops, where instead of a bus the H-Train moves down to allow boarding from the ground surface. The track elevation would then be higher only in those places where the track leads over roads and above existing infrastructure. b) The elevation of the H-train can be used to enter buildings at a higher level in the 2nd floor, which can be advantageous in several instances. c) In cases where it cannot be avoided that the station is at an elevated level, the access to the platform can be provided through escalators and lifts.
  2. Relatively low speed. Compared to a tram, which can go 70 km/h = 44 mph, the speed of the H-Train is lower (50 km/h = 30 mph). This makes the H-Train more suitable for closely spaced stations instead of bridging longer distances. For inner-city connections, the speed of 30 mph is, however, sufficient.
  3. Futuristic. Some may have concerns about the futuristic look of the “hanging train”, in the context of traditional housing and listed buildings. However, this concept of the hanging train is much more positive for conservation and preservation, as it does only have minimal impact on existing infrastructure. Contrary to other ground-based transport systems, which require significant demolition, the H-Train can be added into existing settings without impact on buildings and roads. Also, the combination of the H-Trains with traditional historic buildings can demonstrate that a city embraces both the past, the presence and the future.
  4. Safety. Some may be concerned that a train hanging up to 50 feet above pedestrians and road traffic could be a hazard. This has been disproven by the already existing installations, which have been operated without accidents for many decades. The carriages do not have windows that can be opened by passengers, and the doors open and close automatically at the stations. Therefore, nobody can through objects from the train. Also the stations have automatic doors on the platform edge, which only open when a train has stopped.

The capacity of an H-Train system can be scaled by the size of each carriage, the number of carriages per train, and the frequency of trains operating. The SkyTrain at Düsseldorf Airport runs trains with 2 carriages, each of them with a capacity of 32 standing passengers and 15 seated passengers, leading to a total capacity of 94 passengers per train [1]. The overall transport capacity of this particular line is 2000 passengers per hour.

The H-Train systems currently being installed in China will have larger carriages, leading to trains with 500 passengers [7]. The envisioned capacity of these systems is 12,000 passengers per hour.

Construction Cost

The installation of the H-train in Dortmund cost at that time €12.3 million per km (1st phase in 1984) and €15.5 million (2nd phase in 2003) [1]. In Shanghai, the cost per km is envisioned to be $19.5 million per km [7]. The exchange rate as of 8.November 2013 is 1$ = 0.62£. This leads to a cost of £12.1 million per km or £19.3 million per mile.

Compared to the Trolley Bus Scheme [17] which has been proposed for Leeds, the construction cost per km of H-Train line is much cheaper, as shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Construction Cost Comparison

  Trolley-Bus [17] H-Train
Construction cost per km £20.0 million £12.1 million
Construction cost per mile £32.0 million £19.3 million


The low cost estimation for the construction of H-Train lines can be explained with the carriages and many parts of the track being manufactured in China.

Technical Data

The H-Train has the following specifications:

Maximum speed:bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb50 km/h (31 mph)

Typical height above ground:bbbbbbbb16 m (51 ft)

Smallest curvature radius:bbbbbbbbbbb30 m (100 ft)

Capacity:bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbup to 12,000 passengers per hour

H-Train for Leeds
Previous Proposals for New Leeds Traffic Schemes

The fundamental challenges of the road traffic situation in Leeds have led to other proposals to improve it. The Leeds Supertram was proposed to bring back the Leeds light rail system which had been abandoned in 1959 [15]. However, a lot of investment and construction would be required, and building new tram lines would even more restrict the existing road network, as lanes for cars would have to be closed to make room for tram rail tracks. The proposed cost for this project did spiral out of control, from £500 million to above £1 billion, and the proposal was scrapped in 2005.

The newest proposal is for an Electric Trolley Bus scheme [17], which has the advantage of sharing its lane with regular traffic and requiring less construction cost (£250 Million). However, there are doubts that this scheme will contribute significantly to reducing road traffic congestion, because it shares the same roads. Specific bus lanes will reduce space available for regular traffic, and congestion may increase. There are also currently objections regarding specific construction measures [18], and a specific campaign has organised resistance to the Trolley Bus scheme [19].

Table 2 shows a comparison of the features of the three possible transport improvement schemes for Leeds.


Table 2. Comparison of the three proposals for Leeds public transport improvements.



Trolley Bus


Construction cost in million £

15.8 [20]

20.0 [17]

12.1 [7]

Capacity in passengers per hour


12,000 [17]

12,000 [7]

Max. speed in km/h / mph




Is independent of road traffic congestion

Only when tracks are not on road

Only when separate lanes are used


Leaves buildings and other infrastructure intact



only stations to be built

Leaves road lanes intact




Considerations for the Layout of the H-Train Network in Leeds

The nature of the H-Train favours connecting highly populated residential and business areas, with stations that are spaced within relatively short distances. This means that such a system is well suited for the city centre area. Each line has 2 tracks, one for each direction. These two tracks do not necessarily have to be always in close proximity, but can be separated, should the specific road and building situation require it.

Naturally, for longer distances, there is a trade-off between the number of stations and the overall average speed: short distances between the stations require frequent stops which reduce the overall speed of the train. But short distances between the stations also make the train attractive and accessible to more passengers, and the more businesses can be in the vicinity of a station, the bigger the benefits to the overall economy.

The single long line as proposed for the Trolley Bus system can be shortened significantly for the H-Train system: The “Headingley Line” should not go further than Headingley itself, and in the South the P+R should not be in Stourton but at the South Leeds Sports Centre. This significantly shortens the overall length of “Line 1” and leaves resources for other lines, for the benefit of communities within Leeds other than just at the Headingley corridor.

The proposed topology of the line network should connect places with high traffic volume, so as to ensure the acceptance and success of this transport system. Such places are primarily shopping centres, which also have the advantage of already having infrastructure for parking. Using the parking at these shopping centres for free P+R should be part of the concept: if people are to use the H-Train and give up driving their cars, a sufficient number of parking places must be available. The parking facilities at these shopping malls may need to be extended to provide sufficient space for the additional demand. The malls will, however, benefit from the additional traffic and the additional customers which can bring more business.

The H-Train lines should also have stops at existing train stations within Leeds, to improve the overall public transport network with an integrated approach. This will make both the H-Train and rail lines more attractive to passengers.

H-Train stops should also be in busy high streets of local communities, to link these to the rest of Leeds and provide attractive access to their businesses. Furthermore, H-Train stops shall be at venues which at times have very high numbers of visitors: the Leeds Arena, Headingley Stadium, Elland Stadium. Based on the specific situation in Leeds, the following network topology has been envisioned in this proposal: three lines would go across the Leeds city centre to connect peripheral parts of the town with the centre. In Figure 3, the proposal of three lines is shown schematically, which links several areas of Leeds together.


bbbbFigure 3. Three H-Train lines through Leeds, with possible extensions.
H-Train Stations

The H-Train stations can be relatively short, because the trains are not expected to be longer than 20m (=66ft). For cost savings, a central platform which gives access to both travel direction may be preferred.

Stations are in general above the ground level, and this can be used to provide access directly into relevant buildings (e.g. Arndale Centre, on top of bus station, crossing into Leeds Railway Station on 2nd floor). However, stations also can be on ground level, if the train lines are built to lower the trains towards the ground level. In this case, the train track will be sloped into those ground-based stations and will allow the trains to move down into the station and move up again.

The H-Train should not necessarily run along established high-traffic fast roads, but should instead connect local centres with high-density business and residential use. Stations should be made at retail parks where there are a lot of parking spaces. These should be used to encourage P+R use, even if then the number of parking spaces would need to be increased. Such retail parks also provide of course a high attraction to customers, and it is hoped that the connection to the H-Train will tempt car travellers to give up coming by car and instead using the H-Train. Such retail parks are for example Crown Point Retail Park, Morrisons Kirkstall, Tesco Seacroft, White Rose Centre. Furthermore, high traffic venues need to have stations, such as Headingley Stadium, the Arena, and the universities. In addition, cultural centres should have a station, such as Royal Armouries, Leeds Town Hall, libraries and museums.

Leeds Railway Station

The Leeds Railway is a central transportation hub in any of the proposed public transport schemes for Leeds. Passenger traffic through the station has grown 2004-2012 by 1.3 million passengers per year to 25.020 million passengers per year [10], which means an average of 68,000 passengers per day. On a typical week day, in the morning peak hours there are about 23,000 passengers arriving, and in the evening peak hours there are about 24,500 passengers departing from the station [11]. Not all of these passengers will use the H-Train for the connection to and from the station; there will still be significant other traffic from the station, with taxis, busses, and also individual cars. However, the H-Train system must be able to accept a significant bulk of the continuing travel for it to be successful in reducing other traffic congestion. Therefore, at least 2 lines should be intersecting at Leeds Railway Station to provide good connectivity to other regions of Leeds. A detailed study should be undertaken which would highlight where the journey of arriving passengers in Leeds continues within the city, and from which part of Leeds the train passengers who depart from the station commute.

Considering a 2-carriage train which can transport around 100 passengers, and two intersecting (bi-directional) lines: this scenario would be able to move 400 passengers to and away from the station simultaneously. If the timing in rush hour would be one train every 3 minutes, this would make 20 trains per line per direction per hour, or 80 trains totally, providing a capacity of 8000 passengers / hour.

Leeds City Bus Station

Another important transportation hub in the centre of Leeds is the City Bus Station with its 26 bus stands. It is 800 m to the East from the Leeds Railway Station. Due to its importance as the main bus hub in Leeds, it also should be connected by two intersecting lines.

The H-Train station at this location should also serve the markets and the nearby West Yorkshire Playhouse, but in order to provide the shortest possible access to transportation, the H-Train platforms should be as close to the bus stands as possible. They might be placed on the 2nd floor on top of the existing bus station building.

The Leeds Railway Station and the Leeds Bus Station shall be linked with a direct line. Both hubs will be at the intersection of two lines, hereby providing many connections into the city.

Comparisons to the Trolley Bus Scheme

The Trolley Bus Scheme proposes a single line, mostly following Otley Road, through Leeds Train Station to Stourton with a P+R station. The proposed line is 14.8 km long [21]. While part of the H-Train proposal would also follow this line (along Otley Road), there are a few shortcomings of the line proposed for the Trolley Bus, which are hereby addressed:

Criticism of the Planned Course of the Trolley Bus Line

The Trolley Bus Line favours the parts north of the city centre, but has very few stops south of the centre (6). The Headingley corridor is treated preferentially over other also densely populated areas of Leeds.

It appears not to be cost-conscious to build the line up north of the Ring Road beyond the planned Bodington P+R facilities into Holt Park, as there is not very much traffic to be expected.

The P+R facility might be better suited near the South Leeds Sports Centre instead of in Stourton, for the following reasons: it is closer to the centre of the city and therefore shortens the ride on the public transport into the city centre. Also, it can be better reached from the West, as the drive on the M-621 is shortened.

Other Concerns

In general, the Trolley Bus Scheme only proposes one single line, which will not benefit large parts of Leeds Instead, it would be better to build at least two lines, to bring a higher volume of passengers into the city centre.

The Trolley Bus construction will have a significant impact on Otley Road, building and parks, as documented by public advocate groups [19]. The road will have to be widened, therefore taking more space and reducing green space at the sides.


The thoughts presented in this proposal show that the H-Train is a feasible solution for the Leeds Transport problems. The material presented here can lead to renewed discussions about how to build a future-proof public transport system for Leeds. Further study is needed about the actual transport streams, in order to select the optimal placement of stations and lines so that the system benefits as many passengers as possible.

  1. H-Bahn. Wikipedia.
  2. “Dortmund and Düsseldorf H-Bahn Systems, Germany.” Railway Technology.
  3. H-Bahn 21. “Sky-Train Düsseldorf.”
  4. H-Bahn 21. “H-Bahn Dortmund.”
  5. Airport Düsseldorf. “Sky Train.”
  6. Environment News Service (ENS). “Beijing to Get Hanging Sky Trains and Maglev Trains.” 2011
  7. Wu Jin. “Shanghai mulls air train scheme.” 10.May 2013.
  8. Fritz Frederich. “Siemens/DÜWAG H-Bahn. Technology and Comparative Assessment.” 1976.
  9. Reinhold Meisinger. “Dynamic Analysis of the Dortmund University Campus Sky Train.” ISSN 1616-0762 Sonderdruck Schriftenreihe der Georg-Simon-Ohm-Fachhochschule Nürnberg Nr. 36, November 2006.
  10. Leeds Railway Station, Wikipedia.
  11. Department of Transport. “Rail passenger numbers and crowding on weekdays in major cities in England and Wales: 2011.”
  12. Telegraph and Argus. “Roads in Bradford and Leeds ‘most congested in England’.” 11.July 2012.
  13. Wuppertaler Schwebebahn. Wikipedia.
  14. SAFEGE. Wikipedia.
  15. Leeds Supertram. Wikipedia.
  16. Leeds Supertram. Railway Technology.
  17. The Electric TBus Group. “Trolleybus.”
  18. The Leeds Citizen. “West Yorks business organisation lodges formal objection to Leeds trolleybus scheme.”
  19. Stop the Trolleybus.
  20. Parliamentary Business. “The cost of light rail.“
  21. New Generation Transport.


It is to be noted that the author of this study is not affiliated with any manufacturer or stakeholder of the H=Train, but is simply a concerned citizen of Leeds and wants to contribute to improving the dire traffic situation that he is enduring every day.


Current distributor of the H-Train:

Air Train International GmbH
Emil-Figge-Str. 71 d
44277 Dortmund


There is unfortunately no email address or web page of this company. They also have a dependency in Shanghai which is currently involved in working on the H-Train projects in China. Project director appears to be Chang-Qui Chen.



I wish to express my opposition to the trolleybus scheme in Leeds under three headings: i) this is the wrong route for a rapid transit system; ii) a trolleybus is the wrong choice; iii) the inadequacies of the consultation exercise.

i) This is the wrong route for a rapid transit system.

a) historic reasons for the choice of route:

Obviously, I myself can only speak for that part lying north of the city centre. The proposed route along the A660 corridor has been chosen very largely for historic reasons, a number of which no longer apply. It was initially adopted for the Supertram, and when this was planned there were large halls of residence for students at Bodington and Tetley, as well as the Girls’ High School on Headingley Lane. The closure of the halls and the move of the school to Alwoodley have had a significant effect on traffic in our area, and yet no one has been able to satisfy me that a thorough and comprehensive traffic survey has been carried out here since December 2008, and certainly not since the closure of Bodington Hall in 2012.1 A report of 2005 – that is before Tetley Hall closed in 2006 and the Girls’ High School moved in 2008 – put the A660 corridor on a par with the A65, Bradford-Leeds corridor (through Guiseley, Yeadon and Rawdon, etc.).2 Though there is still a traffic problem here, you only have to have lived in Headingley for some time, to see that it is far from being as bad as it as was. It needs to be proved more clearly that this is still the most polluted and congested route in Leeds.3 Complaints about congestion and pollution in Headingley were common in the press up to 2002.4 In January 2012, like many places in Britain the area suffered from pollution because of cold, still weather.5 This was, however, an exceptional event, and in recent years most published complaints have been about congestion on the A65.6 The solution adopted there has not been to plan for a trolleybus, but to improve traffic management and bus lanes on the Kirkstall Road.7 It is perhaps too early to say how successful this has been, but it is certainly cheaper.

Metro has consistently refused even to consider alternative routes for a rapid transit system, such as the eminently suitable A64/A63 route, linking up to a train/car hub at Thorpe Park.8 The roads are already wide enough, the environmental damage having been already done in the early 1970s. The whole subject needs to be considered more comprehensively on a regional basis.

b) competition with ordinary bus services:

For family as well as professional reasons, I have from time to time used rapid tram systems in Europe, notably those in Montpellier and Strasbourg. In neither of these towns do you find other traffic using the same streets in the city centre. It is only found on the wider boulevards further out, where proper segregation is possible, with a raised pavement, and sometimes even grass, lining the dedicated tram lanes. There is some congestion on side-roads caused by the priority for trams at traffic lights, but there is no attempt to have ordinary buses and taxis running parallel to the trams in roads of the width of those found in Leeds. It was largely for this reason that in the tram scheme being currently planned for Avignon, it has been decided – after listening properly to the public – not to take the trams across the Rhône to Villeneuve, past the Tour Philippe le Bel, where the road is about the width of Headingley Lane.9

Nowhere have I seen an attempt – as would be the case in Leeds – to have two public transport systems competing with one another, with different stops for buses and trolleybuses, and with ordinary buses being condemned to share space with ordinary traffic. This is not integrated transport, especially as Leeds lacks a proper transport hub, with the bus station being a considerable distance away from the railway station.10 I know there is some ambiguity in the use by planners of the expression ‘integrated transport’,11 but I do not think you can get round the basic definition of it as ‘the integration of transport modes in order to provide easier interchange between modes of transport and therefore making it easier for the passenger’.12

We are told that Headingley already forms part of the route most favoured by bus-users in Leeds, but the figures put out by NGT on bus use are somewhat meaningless here insofar as none of the present buses follow exactly the same route as that proposed for the trolleybus. Some come from places further out such as Guiseley (no.97), Bramhope, Otley and Skipton (no. 84X). Both the no.1 and no. 6 go to Holt Park, but one via Lawnswood and the other via Tinshill. The no. 28 goes to Adel. The bus services to all these places would almost inevitably suffer, and those living there would hardly relish being given a shuttle to tie up with the trolleybus instead of a direct service to town. And there would be fewer buses for everybody from West Park inwards wanting to go, for instance, to anywhere near the central bus station. The trolleybus might mean saving a few minutes for some commuters coming in from the outskirts or beyond, but there is little hope of a quicker journey for anybody else, especially with the likelihood of having to walk further to the right stop.

Bus deregulation has caused problems, especially with bus companies often appearing unwilling to maintain services in which they do not make a profit. To counter this, Metro makes much of the possibility of introducing Quality Control Contracts in place of Quality Control Partnerships, in order to have a greater say over the way the buses are run.13 However, the experience of the Sheffield City Council in its dealings with Stagecoach14 does not suggest that Leeds City Council will be any more successful in overcoming opposition from First Group.15 First Group has already fought back, by promising to slash fares along the A660 corridor,16 and is there any guarantee that any bus company – not granted the franchise for the trolleybus – might not be prepared to undercut the fares of the trolleybus? If the franchise were to be granted to First Group, this would simply strengthen further its dominant position.17

c) congestion and park-and-ride:

We are told that that this scheme is designed to ease congestion, which would hardly be helped by having traffic queueing at lights as the trolleybuses go by.18 The two main causers of congestion on the A660 corridor are commuters19 and parents doing the school run. The latter – who, if they can, prefer to live at some distance from busy roads – are hardly likely to abandon driving their children to and from the school gates, if the quality of their local bus services were to decline.20

As for the problems caused by commuters, Professor David Begg, when chairman of the Commission for Integrated Transport, regretted that congestion charging had not been made a pre-requisite for the Leeds Supertram.21 Following the experience of Manchester, Leeds City Councillors still shy away from the idea of introducing it here, and central government has abandoned attempts to force them to adopt it.22 Yet, without it, and also a much greater use of residents’ only parking schemes all along the proposed trolleybus route – the cost of which should not be borne solely by local residents who do not cause the problems23– there must be severe doubts as to the successful implementation of what is seen as the main key to solving traffic congestion in this context, namely park-and-ride sites at Bodington and Stourton. The effects of such schemes can be perverse, sometimes even increasing the use of private cars,24 and most experts agree that park and ride schemes work best in historic towns such as York, Oxford or Bath, with relatively little parking available in the town centre.25 This is not the case in Leeds. We are told that there are some 18,800 parking spaces available in the city centre.26 It would be interesting how many of these are set aside for office workers. In 2009 some 548 members of council staff enjoyed free parking,27 and judging from planning applications and advertisements for offices over the years this privilege is widely extended to the private sector. On top of this, multi-storey parking for up to 2,700 cars is envisaged for the new city-centre shopping developments,28 despite the fact that extensive research by Sustrans and others has shown that traders are wrong in thinking that people need cars to shop in the middle of town.29 The situation is not helped by the fact that Leeds is home to the British branch of Europe’s largest car-park firm, which is naturally pleased to see an increase in custom.30 Is it not a little naïve, in such circumstances, to believe that motorists will willingly get out of the comfort of their cars and transfer to a trolleybus if they have guaranteed parking spaces available for them at their place of work? Unless, of course, the aim is to have permanent grid lock along the A660 corridor for all traffic other than the trolleybus.

ii) A trolleybus is the wrong choice

Few in Leeds would deny that the trolleybus was chosen as a second-best alternative, following the cancellation of the Supertram in 2004, and though Leeds is now the third-largest city in England, one has to face up to the fact that one cannot expect funding for an underground, such largesse having always been reserved for the capital. Even so, the cost of one single trolleybus line at an estimated £250.6 million (with £173.5m coming from central government) would seem very poor value for money, especially when compared to the cost of the first stage of the Nottingham Tram, at £200 million (which is the equivalent to £260 million at 2013 prices).31

Yet, NGT calls the possible creation of the first trolleybus system in the UK a ‘step change in public transport’, implying that it is at the cutting edge of new technology and – with its belief in image – that car users and bus passengers will switch to it simply because it is so permanent and so attractive. It makes much of trolleybuses abroad without really looking at them properly, and dismisses out of hand as unsuitable the rapid technological progress that is taking place in other ecological forms of public transport.

a) trolleybus systems abroad

NGT is good at giving half the story. On its website, it begins a list of would-be rebuttals of what it calls ‘false and misleading’ claims made by opponents to its scheme, by making much of a new trolleybus line in Geneva, but fails to point out that – to the chagrin of a least one Genevan property developer32 – this is not a rapid transport service as envisaged here. It is designed to serve new housing estates near and over the French frontier and not long-established built-up areas as in Leeds, does not go into the centre of town, but to the new transport hub at Eaux-Vives,33 and is thus part of a big truly-integrated cross-frontier transport scheme that has being going ahead since 2002, the CEVA (Cornavin – Eaux-Vives – Annemasse).34 It was opposed by local residents’ associations, who objected to the cost, and wanted buses using natural gas instead.35

This is typical of the way NGT has attempted to brush aside dissent, and continue to paint the trolleybus as a popular choice for transport worldwide. For a start, it is important to distinguish between long-established trolleybus systems – most notably in former communist countries where there was, ’til fairly recently, limited private-car ownership, and places like Switzerland with access to cheap hydro-electricity – and new schemes – few in number – introduced since the beginning of the present century. For the sake of simplicity, it is perhaps best to limit the discussion to Western Europe and the European Union since 2001.36

When we have pointed out that towns with trolleybuses such as Arnhem,37 Budapest,38 Geneva39 and Salzburg40 have all been experimenting with electric buses, we were not suggesting, as NGT has tried to make out, that places like Geneva, were immediately wanting to rip out the overhead wires. Those with established trolleybus systems obviously want to make the best of the system that they have, especially if it is part of properly integrated transport, and in the medium term at least they will try to keep it up to date. What this desire to test electric buses does reflect, however, is a widespread dislike of overhead wires and of the lack of flexibility that they entail. The Swiss have referred to them as ‘visual pollution’,41 and here in Leeds there is fear over the environmental damage that they would cause, including, notably, the need to cut down a considerable number of mature trees.

As elsewhere in the world, in Western Europe and the European Union, a fair number of trolleybus systems have closed since the beginning of the present century. Romania has abandoned seven trolleybus systems in recent years,42 and Bulgaria has closed two.43

Nearer home, two trolleybus systems have closed in recent years in Switzerland: Lugano in 2002,44 and Bâle in 2008.45 That in La Chaux-de-Fonds was only saved, because it was thought that there was no viable ecological alternative on the horizon, a situation which is changing radically, with the result that its future is still uncertain.46 In Austria, Innsbruck closed its system in 2007,47 while in Belgium Ghent did away with its trolleybuses in 2009.48 In France, the main opposition party, the UMP, could well win next year’s local elections in Villeurbanne (in the Lyon conurbation), and it wants to suppress the trolleybus there.49

The latest town to show disaffection with the trolleybus is Vilnius in Lithuania which is now abandoning them progressively. It replaced 40 trolleybuses with ordinary buses on September 1, 2013. A further 45 trolleybuses were to be replaced shortly after that, leaving at that stage a total of 185 trolleybuses, compared to 225 in the autumn of 2012. The director general of the local public transport board (Vilnaius Viesasis Transportas) is quoted as saying that ‘buses were faster than trolleybuses’. They closed four trolley bus routes on July 1, 2013.50

Finally, one should mention that a system for Amadora in Portugal was planned in 2009, but abandoned in 2012.51

Of the very few entirely new trolleybus systems created in Western Europe and the European Union in the last few years, almost all cannot be used as examples of inspiration for Leeds. In Romania, with a grant from the European Union, a new system has been planned for Craiova (a city of 300,000 inhabitants) since 2009, to tie up rather bizarrely with an existent tram line52, and the old 5-kilometer line in the small town of Vaslui (74,000 inhabitants), which closed in 2009, has now been completed reconstructed.53

The new single 3-kilometer trolleybus line in Landskrona (30,499 inhabitants) in Sweden, constructed from 2002 to 2003, is a very modest affair, running like an ordinary bus with wires and no special lane.54 All other recent schemes have been in Italy and Spain, and they have nearly all been embroiled in scandal, amidst lawsuits over accusations of corruption and unwarranted financial and political influence. That in the small town of Avellino (54,151 inhabitants) was planned to be in service by 2013,55 while that of the slightly-larger Lecce (95,764 inhabitants) was opened in January 2012, a couple of months after the arrest of one of its planners on charges of bribery and fraudulent invoicing.56 It is not surprising that it has been dubbed locally the ‘filobus della discordia’!57

Even the new trolleybus in Rome (filovia) – built by supporters of Silvio Berlusconi – has not been free of scandal, with accusations of waste58 and the arrest of the mayor’s right-hand man on charges of having accepted nearly one million euros in bribes from a state-controlled bus-maker.59 In any case, it cannot be used here as an example for Leeds, since for much of the time the vehicles turn into electric buses without either overhead wires or special lanes.

Two other Italian cities which have over the months been quoted as exemplary by NGT and its supporters, again without their really doing their homework properly, are Bari, which has a very troubled history of stopping and starting various trolleybus schemes going back to the 1970s,60 and Verona where a trolleybus scheme, which was first promised in 2007, was still being evaluated in 2013, with a plan that envisages the use of the internal combustion engine to power the system wirelessly within the city walls.61

The only new modern trolleybus scheme which does has similarities with what is planned for Leeds is the strangely-named ‘El Tram’ in the Spanish provincial capital of Castellón de la Plana (180,204 inhabitants), the brainchild of yet another controversial politician, the ex-leader of the regional government, Carlos Fabra Carreras, who was placed under judicial investigation in 2012 in connection with several cases of corruption and tax evasion.62

This scheme is almost a symbol of how Spain overstretched itself before the economic downturn in 2008. It is run at a loss and is to be heavily subsidized by the local regional authorities up to 2027.63 It is highly controversial, with lawsuits trying to stop it damaging a local park, and causing considerable anger among many citizens in the town, especially over a lack of proper public consultation and added congestion where even ambulances find it difficult to get through.64 Here as elsewhere, there is now talk of doing away with the overhead wires on the main route from the university to the seafront.65

Very clearly, trolleybuses with overhead wires do not constitute the ideal solution for the development of modern urban transport.

b) better ecological alternatives

In wanting to counter claims made for electric buses, on its website NGT concentrates all its guns on the TOSA electric bus in Geneva without discussing the many other electric battery buses being tried out more and more throughout the world. Most noticeably, it makes no mention of developments in the rival ‘green’ technology of hydrogen fuel cells. In recent years there has been rapid progress in both fields, and it is now more that likely that one or the other or both of these technologies will be in a position to make that of the trolleybus seem completely obsolete by the time that the scheme planned for Leeds should be up and running.

It is somewhat ironic – and symbolic of how greatly Metro seems behind the times – that Leeds has not already made use of the award-winning electric buses by the local firm of Optare, while they have been enthusiastically adopted, for instance, in Coventry,66 Durham,67, August 23, 2013, p. 38.] Nottingham,68 and nearby York.69

At the moment the 12-metre long Chinese BYD electric bus, which can run for 250 kilometers on a single charge, seems to be leading the field world-wide.70 In Sweden there is Volvo.71 Siemens is providing the technology for new electric buses in Vienna.72 Bombardier is running electric buses in Canada and Germany,73 &c. &c. I could go on. The list is endless.

NGT criticises the look of the overhead apparatus used to flash-charge the TOSA bus in fifteen seconds at stops,74 but it should note that ‘in-road’ flash-charging is being developed in Sweden by Volvo75 and also by Bombardier in Canada and Germany,76 while the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has developed an ‘in-road’ system that actually recharges the bus while it is still moving.77


NGT’s silence over hydrogen fuel cell buses is extraordinary. In some ways, I suspect (along with the European Union and the British Government78) that in the end they may prove a better bet than electric buses, with greater autonomy, and not using batteries with heavy elements that need proper disposal and can pollute the environment in the long run.79 Hydrogen fuel cells are also lighter.80

London in particular has been a leader in the use of hydrogen fuel cell buses,81 while Aberdeen has taken delivery of 10 buses built by Van Hool NV and powered by Ballard fuel cells.82

Of course, the infrastructure needs to be developed and they do require quite a lot of electricity, though this can be produced off-peak. Aberdeen, for instance, ‘aims to use surplus off-peak wind energy to produce the hydrogen for city buses’83 and this is where both battery and hydrogen fuel buses again score over the NGT trolleybus. This is likely to be powered for some time by electricity from the National Grid, and there are currently worries about the reliability of electricity supplies from this source.84

One of the main current problems connected to the production of hydrogen is the comparative rarity and cost of the usual catalyst: platinum, which is hoarded by the Chinese. However, here again research into various alternatives to platinum is advancing fast.85 There is even talk in Manchester of obtaining hydrogen from household waste.86 In any case, the overall cost of producing the gas has already come down significantly.87

No system is entirely carbon neutral, but less disruptive forms of ‘green’ public transport than the trolleybus, enjoying all the flexibility of the ordinary bus, are, whatever NGT may imply, already clearly on the horizon.

c) improvements to traffic flow, not needing a trolleybus.

Among the claims made by NGT, it lists advantages that do not really need the presence of a trolleybus. First among these is smart-ticketing : the ‘MCard’, a Yorkshire equivalent of London’s Oyster Card.88 Those of us who can remember the pre-deregulation ‘ker-ching’ card on Leeds buses, have long wondered why one had to revert to long hold-ups at bus stops while people, on boarding their buses, looked for change to pay for their tickets. Yet there are several questions one might ask of Metro, before they claim all the credit for the introduction of the new cards. First Group has spent £27 million on the technology which is to be installed on buses, not just in Leeds, but also in Manchester, Bolton, Oldham, Wigan, Stoke, Northampton, York, Halifax, Huddersfield, Bradford, Leicester, Portsmouth, Southampton, Plymouth, Reading, Bristol, Ipswich and Norwich.89 Did it did need the trolleybus plan to force Metro wake up to the need for this?

There is also no reason to doubt that with the growth of electronic technology, comparable regularity and reliability as claimed for the trolleybus, could not be achieved with ordinary buses, using proper buses lanes and stopping bays, and real-time bus arrival information. It is now possible for computers, using GPS, to ensure that fast express and slow more frequently-stopping services do not get in each other’s way.90

Some road widening may be needed in places, for both buses and cyclists, but not so far as to favour private cars. Those of us who have lived in Headingley for over 45 years well-remember what the planners – having ripped the heart out of Leeds – then wanted to do to our area so as to live up to the slogan: ‘Leeds: motorway city of the 70s’.91 As Brian Richards so rightly says, ‘traffic engineers – at least the more enlightened ones – now accept that widening only brings in more traffic.’92 It should be possible – with a little imagination – to implement a road improvement scheme which caters to the needs of all, as in the inspiring one implemented at Poynton in Cheshire.93

Above all, the A660 is not really suitable for articulated or bendy buses, which are much disliked by cyclists, who, under the proposed trolleybus scheme, would, for a considerable part of the route, have to share a lane with a vehicle of that shape.94 Double-decker buses – which need shorter stopping bays – have always been popular in Britain, because our roads tend not be as wide as those on the continent, and it is for the same reason that double-decker buses are now being introduced in both New Zealand and Australia.95

iii) the inadequacies of the consultation exercise

When I argued in a letter to the Yorkshire Evening Post that ‘for the words “public consultation” to mean anything, everything must be on the table, even the possibility of abandoning a project or looking for something more appropriate, after listening properly to the public’,96 it prompted a reply from the head of NGT to my MP, which unwittingly strengthened my view, by putting the emphasis on the fact the trolleybus scheme had been the subject of a ‘great deal of scrutiny’ from both Metro and Leeds City Council.97 This still does not imply proper engagement with the public. I had never suggested that they had not respected procedure, and faithfully gone through all the hoops. The question is whether they had done so with truly open minds and whether there were severe limitations on what they were prepared to change. Public consultation is a delicate process all too easily perverted by political manipulators and commercial lobbyists, who often count on the inertia and ignorance of the general public.98 The extreme anger expressed by our local councillors at the suggestion from the government for a referendum before raising council-tax to pay for transport issues was most illuminating.99

My letter had been initially prompted by a remark made by a local councillor in reply to the many protests against the trolleybus from locals citizens: ‘We can perhaps tweak and change minor details but at the end of the day this is a government scheme.’100 The public has to put up with a great deal of double-talk and soft-soap from those in charge of the scheme, with phrases devoid of real meaning such as ‘feedback from the public is vital in helping us to shape the plans the best we can in order to provide Leeds with a modern rapid transport system’,101 pronounced by a councillor whom we had just seen lecturing a public meeting and not listening properly to comments from the floor. Such meetings have grown extremely heated, as many members of the public have become increasingly angry and frustrated.

According to the OECD guidelines for public consultation, it must be ‘a two-way flow of information’ based on proper dialogue.102 That this has not been the case here, is fully illustrated by the NGT website, which still makes vague, difficult to prove claims of doubtful validity, that it already made at the start of the consultation exercise. Rather than dealing properly with concerns raised by the public, it devotes much space to trying to counter what it calls misleading claims most of which – as I have shown above – are not as ill-founded as they suggest. They also list answers to frequently-asked questions. This list is somewhat repetitive and rather tellingly does not include a fair number of thorny issues which I know to have been raised. Most interestingly, the web site defines the aim of the consultation exercise as being ‘to ensure people have ample opportunity to find out the facts about the scheme.’ In other words, without saying as much, they imply notification rather than consultation.

Complaints that public consultations are all too often ‘carried out in name only’ are, of course, not limited to Leeds,103 but certainly the local press here is full of letters reflecting the recurrent and general feeling of resentment among the citizens of Leeds over not being properly consulted.104 This is, unfortunately, not a new phenomenon here. As the Australian architecture and planning expert Dr Tony Gilmore has pointed out, there is a long tradition in Leeds in which decision-making has always been almost solely ‘in the hands of a small group of “insiders”: the City Council, a number of locals property developers, the Yorkshire branch of English Heritage and the Leeds Civic Trust’.105

Commenting on the ‘astoundingly cheap-looking architecture’ that now abounds in Leeds, Owen Hatherley blamed the Council for having over the years ‘let the property developers lead the way […] out of the fear that they and their money might disappear if they were in any way challenged’.106 This subservience still survives among our present councillors, as was seen last June at a meeting ostensibly called to listen to opinions from the public on the trolleybus, mainly made up of representatives from local residents’ associations. The only person they chose to listen to was the one person to speak in favour of the trolleybus scheme: the Manchester-based press officer for the property developers Allied London.

Here in fact lies part of the key to what many have seen as the surprising attitude of Kevin Grady and the Leeds Civic Trust, especially as the latter states on its website as its first principle the aim ‘to stimulate public interest in and care for the beauty, history and character of the City and locality’.107 The character of a conservation area – of which several would be adversely affected by the trolleybus scheme – does not lie solely in the buildings, but also in the space in between (trees, gardens, stone walls and pavements, etc.).

Kevin Grady has shown misplaced enthusiasm for disastrous schemes before, as seen in the projects for monster towers in the city centre.108 When these schemes failed, Kevin Grady was reported as saying that the ‘Council ought to have chosen a more modest scheme by a local developer’, which prompted the Conservative Council Leader to accuse him of being ‘wise after the event’.109 He may now complain about the ‘crazy boom years’,110 but there was a time when he saw it as ‘vital that Leeds capitalises on the tremendous development boom’,111 and approved of the desire to emulate Manchester with ever-higher buildings.112 Only later did he see high-rise development schemes proposed for the city prior to the crash as ‘a step too far’.113

In its press release of June 27, 2013,114 the trust talks about the ‘wider benefits’ to the city, but stresses in this context redeveloped areas south of the river. Both Kevin Grady and the Council have been seduced by the plan to build there a form of Canary Wharf or Quartier de la Défense, and seem all too willing to sacrifice in its name the interests of the rest of the City.115

One of the main arguments used by NGT and its supporters to brush aside opposition is to remind everybody that the trolleybus scheme has been accepted by a Gateway review. The government explains how this works : ‘Gateway uses a “peer review” approach; it is not an audit or inspection and the process is undertaken in partnership with the project’.116 This sounds rather cosy, and having long experience of peer reviews in academia, I know just how open they can be to cronyism (politely referred to as ‘networking’) and fashion. As has been said: ‘peer review is widely acknowledged as an imperfect system’.117 There are frequent complaints about a lack of transparency, and calls for referees to be ‘accountable’ for their comments by disclosing their identity: ‘Society, it has been said, is less tolerant today than it used to be of what it sees as power without responsibility’.118

Gateway reviews certainly sound opaque and open to influence. Since the government refused in 2007 to let them be covered by the freedom of information act,119 it is difficult to tell just how independent the referees have been in this instance, but judging from what is said in the Spring issue of the Yorkshire Post‘s Vision magazine (quoted on the NGT site) they do sound too collaborative. They do not question the highly contentious 4,000 job claim (which I discuss below), and how can they call a trolleybus ‘high quality, unique and city defining’ when compared to a tram. It is pitiful! As I have shown above, the trolleybus is not, as they suggest, ‘innovative’ and ‘cutting edge’ One gets the impression that the peer reviewers had not done their homework either.

Local democracy in Leeds is not particularly healthy, with the majority of councillors elected on turnouts of under a third of the electorate, and many – simply chosen by their party machine – not living in or even near the wards they represent. In our particular area, the students decide who gets elected, basing their vote on national issues such as student fees, with hardworking councillors losing their seats regardless how good their record has been. Many permanent residents feel quite disenfranchised, with a resultant widespread sense of cynicism, which is not likely to decrease in the face of the current collective behaviour of those in the city with power and influence.


NGT says it ‘is forecast to create 4,000 new local jobs along the route’, yet in 2004, the National Audit Office said that the Sheffield Supertram – a much more ambitious scheme than what is planned for Leeds – was thought to have created 1,600 jobs, but also said there was ‘no established methodology for identifying the regeneration benefits at the planning stage and they did not know how the jobs estimate had been made’.120 Having looked at the announcements for many projects in different fields dating from over the last twenty years, again and again I have come across the promise of the creation of ‘4,000 jobs’.121 This magic number crops up endlessly. In other words, it is a planners’ cliché which is meant to impress, but which most often owes more to lazy and wishful thinking than to fact.

If one applies Ockham’s Razor or lex parsimoniae to test the overall validity of the case put forward by NGT, one sees very quickly that the latter makes too many untested assumptions. If, for instance, the scheme were to achieve its aim of making life easier for commuters coming from outside Leeds, it might create jobs for people living in villages and other towns, but it is difficult to see how it would create ‘new local jobs along the route’ as people living in Leeds itself would clearly gain little from this scheme. Public transport in town is not just for going from one’s home to one’s place of work, but also to facilitate general mobility within an urban area, including short journeys for the less fit. By its very design, the present scheme would clearly damage this.

Finally, it would seem perverse to call on the council-tax payers in Leeds – most of whom do not live anywhere near the route, and in areas where existent buses services are not nearly as good as they are on the A660 corridor122 – to contribute to one single line of a trolleybus, while the council continually complains of being short of money and is making cuts to essential services everywhere.123


  1. See
  2. See
  3. Unfortunately, perhaps again for historic reasons, Defra only measures Headingley and Leeds City Centre on a daily basis, see Judging from the samples we have seen listed there on a number of different days, much higher pollution levels of ozone, nitrogen oxide and particles are commonly found elsewhere.
  4. See, for instance, Report Summary, ‘Top 12 noisiest roads in the UK’, Local Government Chronicle; April 29, 2002; Jon Clements, ‘Volume of traffic; Britain’s top 10 noisiest routes’, The Mirror, April 29, 2002, p.25; Emma Dunlop and Joanne Ginley, ‘Uproar on noisiest roads in Britain’, The Yorkshire Post , April 30, 2002.
  5. Gary Fuller, ‘Pollution watch’ The Guardian (London). February 13, 2012 Monday , p.35.
  6. See Jonathan Redhead, ‘Bradford’s roads “most congested in country”’, Bradford Telegraph and Argus, October 13, 2012; Thomas Harvey, ‘Opinion: A65 – What’s the solution to Leeds’ traffic congestion”, The Guardian Leeds, March 31, 2011 and also
  7. See ‘Leeds: Minister opens new Kirkstall Road bus lane scheme’, Yorkshire evening post, September 13, 2012.
  8. See Hon Alderman Don Townsley, ‘Towards a realisable, cohesive and economic transport system of Leeds’ and ‘Will £250m trolleybus scheme solve Leeds’s transport woes?, The Yorkshire Evening Post, January 9, 2013.
  9. See ‘L’abandon de la desserte en tram de Villeneuve : Un choix concerté’, on the official web site for Greater Avignon:
  10. See Shatrughna P. Sinha, Instant encyclopaedia of geography (New Delhi, Mittal, 1995), vol. 23 (Transportation geography) , p.248.
  11. See Stephen Potter, Martin J. Skinner, ‘On transport integration: a contribution to better understanding’, Futures, 32 (2000), 275–287.
  12. See letter from Peter Bonsall, Emeritus Professor of Transport Planning at the University of Leeds, Yorkshire Evening Post, July 4, 2013, and the discussion paper by Professor John Preston of the University of Southampton: ‘Integration for Seamless Transport ‘ The International Transport Forum, Leipzig, 2-4 May 2012.
  13. ‘Q&A: Metro chief Chris Greaves answers your public transport questions’, Guardian Unlimited, April 15, 2011; Sarah Hartley, ‘Transport in Leeds and Manchester gets that London feeling’, Guardian Unlimited, July 2, 2012.
  14. ‘Stagecoach threatens market withdrawal over imposition of Quality Bus Contracts’, Local Government Laywer, March 29, 2010:
  15. See For Leeds, see John Baron, Guardian Unlimited, October 14, 2010, Paul Robinson, ‘West Yorkshire bus firm’s ‘new deal’ on fares’ Yorkshire Evening Post, October 14, 2010; the letter from Dave Alexander, regional managing director, First UK Bus (North Region) in the Yorkshire Evening Post, 12 July 2013, and the submission from the Association of local bus Operators in West Yorkshire:
  16. ‘Leeds bus fares could be slashed by a third’, Yorkshire Evening Post, July 2, 2013.
  17. I grew up in Edinburgh, and although I do not approve of the Edinburgh tram, I do note that at least it – like the Edinburgh buses – is to be run by Edinburgh Corporation (‘New trams firm will have no drive for efficiency’, Edinburgh Evening News, January 30, 2013; Tristan Stewart-Robertson, ‘Transport expert raises debate on city’s future, The Glaswegian, July 3, 2013, p.4).
  18. There are complaints about narrow streets and the congestion caused by the trams in Nottingham (‘Madness to build tram line in narrow streets’, Nottingham Evening Post, December 27, 2012, p.14; ‘Congested city traffic will put off new firms’, Nottingham Evening Post, December 10, 2012, p.12). Even the new tram system using the wide outer boulevards in Paris, ‘le tramway des Maréchaux’, has not got round the problem of actually causing congestion at the various gateways to the city, the Porte de Pantin, the Porte d’Orléans, etc., and, though it has resulted in people transferring to it from buses, it has not reduced car use (See S.M : ‘Delanoë, ennemi de la voiture ?’, L’Express, N°. 3202, November 14, 2012, p.22); B.H. : ‘La branche sud déjà victime de son succès’, Le Parisien, December 10, 2012; Martine Breson, ‘Le tram victime des embouteillages Porte de Pantin’, Radio-France : France Bleu (Ile de France). February 11, 2013:; Rémy Prud’homme, ‘Paris: did rail worsen freeway congestion?’, World Transit Research:
  19. A Trafficmaster report of 11 June 2007 says: ‘Traffic congestion into Leeds is commonplace at rush hours, but traffic flows freely outside these times’ (,d.d2k).
  20. See Susan Hodgson, Anil Namdeo, Vera Araujo-Soares, Tanja Pless-Mulloli, ‘Towards an interdisciplinary science of transport and health: a case study on school travel’, Journal of Transport Geography, 21 (2012) 70–79.
  21. In a foreward to A New Deal for Transport: The UK’s struggle with the sustainable transport, edited by Ian Doherty and Jon Shaw (Blackwell 2003), p.xiv. Congestion charging had in fact been conceived of in Leeds as a means of helping to finance the Supertram (see Peter Bonsall and David Milne, ‘Urban Road User Charging and Workplace Parking Levies’, Integrated futures and Transport choices, ed. J. Preston and J. Hine (Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. 2003), pp.259-286.
  22. See ‘Leeds road-pricing u-turn as £2 million fund is axed’, Yorkshire Evening Post, 8 March 2010. For what was planned see
  23. See Alice Azania Jarvis, ‘The superhero of Suburbia: Fed up with soaring residents’ parking charges? Read how one man’s struck a blow for motorists everywhere’, The Daily Mail, July 31, 2013; ‘Leeds: Plans to charge for permits are totally wrong’, The Yorkshire Evening Post, August 29,2013.
  24. See Giuliano Mingardo ‘Transport and environmental effects of rail-based Park and Ride: evidence from the Netherlands’, Journal of Transport Geography, 30 (2013) 7–16.
  25. See Stuart Meek, Stephen Ison, Marcus Enoch, ‘UK local authority attitudes to Park and Ride’, Journal of Transport Geography, 18 (2010) 372–381.
  26. See
  27. See the reply to a freedom of information request:
  28. See
  29. See
  30. See ‘Former FD returns to help Town Centre grow car park business’, The Yorkshire Post, March 21, 2013.
  31. The figure given for the Leeds trolleybus is bound to rise. The Nottingham tram already cost more than had been planned (‘Nottingham tram scheme costs rocket’, Construction News, July 17, 2003), though the supreme case of a rapid transit system running well over budget is that of the Edinburgh tram (Alastair Dalton, ‘135 changes, GBP 16m bill – latest trams furore’, The Scotsman, April 10, 2010, p.15; Allan Alstead. ‘Edinburgh’s trams will be a millstone around the necks of all city council taxpayers for many decades to come’. The Herald, January 11, 2013; ‘Edinburgh Trams to run at loss for fifteen years’, Newsnet Scotland, June 22, 2013); Michael Glackin, ‘Tram profit relies on tax break as yet unapproved’, The Times, June 28, 2013, p.9.
  32. François Moser, ‘Les avantages du Rapid Bus Transit’, La Tribune de Genève, November 17, 2009, p. 34.
  33. See Ch.D, ‘Une ligne de bus pour desservir la Rive gauche’, La Tribune de Genève, April 17, 2012, p.18.
  34. See and
  35. Gerson Waechter, ‘CEVA et TPG’, La Tribune de Genève, November 13, 2009, p.33. For lots of local unfavourable comments on the recent choice of 33 new VanHool Exqui.City 18 trolleybuses for Geneva, see and
  36. Though the pattern outside Europe is somewhat similar, with far more closures than openings since 2001: Arzebaijan (Baku, Ganja, Migachevirm, Nakchiva and Sumquayt : between 2004 and 2006) – Brazil (Recife (2001) – Canada (Edmonton (2009) – China (Julin (2001), Harbin and Lanzhou (2008) – Kazakstan (Astana (2008), Karahanda (2010), Sjymkent (2005) and, reportedly, Qostanay (2005) – Nepal (Katamandu (2008) – Uzbekistan (Andijan (2002), Bukhara (2005), Jizzakh (2010), Ferghana (2003), Namangan and Tururgan (2010), Nugus (2007), Olmaliq (2009), Samarkand (2005), Tashkent (2010). Even in the trolleybus heartlands of Russia and the Ukraine there have been closures in recent years: in Russia (Vladikavkav (North Ossetia (ex-Georgia (2010), Shahty (near Rostov (2007), Tyumen (2009), Syzen (near Samara) (opened in 2002, closed in 2009), Archangel (2008). Near Saint-Petesburg, construction on a system in Gatchinas, planned in the 1980s, began in 2004, but stopped in 2005. The Ukraine has closed two systems in recent years: Dobropillia (2011), and Dzerjynsk (2007). Georgia closed trolleybus lines in 11 different cities between 2001 and 2010. In fairness, one should note the fairly new Russian trolleybus lines near Moscow (Khimki (1997), Podolsk (2001) and Vdnoye (2000). The Russians are also reconstructing the trolleybus system in Grozny destroyed during the Chechnin wars. The Ukraine has opened one new line in Kerch (2004). Otherwise, only four entirely new systems have been built outside Western Europe and the European union since the beginning of the new century: Saudia Arabia (Riyadh (2012) – USA (South Boston (2004) which is dual-powered, using diesel power and not using overhead wires at tricky points (Trolleybus Magazine (TM) No. 260, Mar.-Apr. 2005.) – Uzebekistan: Buxoro (Kagan) (said to be completed) – Venuezela (Mérida (2007). (Main source:
  37. Harry Van Der Ploeg , ‘Arnhem maakt kans op bovenleidingloze trolley’, De Gelderlander, May 28, 2013, pp.1,27.
  38. Budapest Public Transport Company BKV Tests Electric Bus:
  39. See Isabel Jan-Hess, ‘Doris Leuthard inaugure le 1er bus à biberonnage, ‘ La Tribune de Genève, May 27, 2013, p.20 ; TOSA: A world premiere for UITP. Sustainable mobility and intelligent energy management:
  40. Electric bus from BYD in Salzburg:
  41. See Chloé Dethurens, ‘Les trolleybus rouleront bientôt sans câbles’, La Tribune de Genève, pp.1, 14 ; Christian Berrnet, ‘Fadas de poteaux’, La Tribune de Genève, July 5, 2012, p.23. For the dislike of the new overhead tram wires in Princess Street, Edinburgh, see Dale Miller, ‘Princes Street tram pylons avoidable, says expert’, Edinburgh Evening News, January 26, 2013. Unlike trolleybuses, trams can in fact be run without overhead wires, as I myself have seen in Bordeaux.
  42. Constanta (2010), Iasi (2006), Satu Mare (2005), Sibiu (2009), Slatina (2005), Suceava (2006), Targoviste (2005) (
  43. Plovdiv (2012), and Veliko Tarnovo (2009). (
  44. ‘Filobus in Svizzera: Lugano, Neuchatel e Basilea in controtendenza’, SDA – Servizio di base in Italiano, December 29, 2006.
  46. ‘Les trolleybus pourraient disparaître de La Chaux-de-Fonds’, 24 heures de Lausanne, April 21, 2011 ; J. Lehmann: ‘Trolleybuses to Survive to 2014’ :
  47. See
  49. L’Express, N° 3234, June 26, 2013, p.5.
  50. Rasa Lukaityt-Vnarauskien, ‘Vilniuje nyksta troleibusai: nuo rugs_jo ju išvažiuos 40 mažiau’,, August 14, 2013 (
  51. Trolleybus Magazine No 305 (September–October 2012), p.120.
  52. Marian Badirci, ‘Troleibuz cu axă POR’, Gazeta de Sud, January 21, 2009 ; J. Lehmann, ‘Trolleybuses to be introduced in Craiova’
  54. The Trolley Bus Line in Landskrona : A short presentation ( Note that Landskrona is now trying out an electric bus (Sydsvenska Dagbladet, August 18, 2013, p.6).
  55. J. Lehmann: The Infrastructure ‘Will Be Ready Next Summer’
  56. ‘L’inchiesta Giordano Franceschini, docente a ingegneria, e’ stato interrogato in carcere a Lecce’, La Nazione , November 24, 2011, p.8.
  57. See
  58. See and and especially
  59. See, and
  61. Bruno Casula, ‘Verona, continuano le valutazioni sul filobus’, Eco dalle Città, Febrary 26, 2013 :
  62. Raphael Minder, ‘In Spain, a Symbol of Ruin at an Airport to Nowhere, The New York Times, July 19, 2012, p.8.
  63. Lorena Ortega, ‘El Tram de Castellón arranca con 1,3 millones de déficit al año’, El Pais, December 27, 2012, p.20.
  64. Marco, ‘El Tram no soluciona el problema del transporte en la ciudad de Castellón’, El Periodico Mediterraneo, August 14, 2013. See video: Polemico paso del bus guiado TVR-CAS TRAM por el Parque Ribalta en Castellón :
  65. David P. Solves, ‘Bataller busca fórmulas para que el Tram circule sin catenarias; el nuevo centro de energía podría albergar un proyecto de investigación’, El Periodico Mediterraneo, February 6, 2013.
  66. Jenny Waddington, ‘Electric bus sparks lot of interest’, The Coventry Telegraph, February 11, 2013, p.31.
  67. ‘Good fuel economy leads to 26 more Optare vehicles for Go North East, ENP Newswire, August 23, 2013, ‘Company orders 26 new buses,, The Journal [Newcastle
  68. Optare secures £4m green bus deal’, The Yorkshire Post, April 13, 2013; Alexander Britton, ‘City to lead the way with largest fleet of electric buses in Europe’, Nottingham Evening Post, May 18, 2013, p.5; ‘Next stop the future as city pioneers use of electric buses’, Nottingham Evening Post, June 3, 2013, p.14.
  69. ‘City wins financial backing for electric bus services’, The Yorkshire Post, May 27, 2013; Mark Stead, ‘York switched on to electric buses’, York Press, May 27, 2013.
  70. ‘BYD electric buses certified for European market’, EcoSeed, January 14, 2013; Netherlands Launch All-Electric Bus Service, Business News, April 25, 2013; ‘Israel’s Tel Aviv introduces China’s BYD electric buses’, NewsToday, August 15, 2013.
  71. ‘Volvo noiseless electric buses to hit streets of Gothenburg in 2015’, EcoSeed, June 18, 2013.
  72. Erica Gies, ‘In Europe, Greener Transit on Existing Infrastructure, The New York Times, July 8, 2013, p.B4.
  73. ‘German city to test viability of inductive charging system on two real bus lines’, – Science and Technology News, February 27, 2013; ‘Premieres Game Changing E-Mobility Solutions at the UITP World Congress in Geneva’, 3BL Blogs, May 28, 2013.
  74. ‘Un bus 100% électrique sans ligne de contact débarque à Genève’, SDA – Service de base français, April 19, 2013; ‘ABB demonstrates technology to power flash charging electric bus in 15 seconds’, ENP Newswire, June 3, 2013.
  75. ‘Official: Volvo testing wireless, in-road charging system for EVs’, AutoblogGreen, June 21, 2013.
  76. ‘Bombardier electric technology will be tested’, Alberni Valley Times (British Columbia), February 19, 2013, p.15.
  77. ‘Electric road charges buses while they drive’,, August 7, 2013; ‘Active Wireless Charging In Transit; Remarkable Progress In Korea For Electric Vehicles’, CleanTechnica, August 14, 2013.
  78. ‘Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell is first choice’, Essex Chronicle, March 28, 2013, p.54. See the press release of February 2, 2013 from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles ( as well as the synopses of the UK H2 Mobility reports: and

  79. See Bjorn Lomborg, quoted in The Globe and Mail (Canada), March 28, 2013, p.17.
  80. Sarah Zielinski : George W. Bush. Elon Musk; Who was right about the future of hydrogen cars?,’ Slate Magazine, August 27, 2013.
  81. ‘Toyota joins Mayor’s London hydrogen partnership’, States News Service, March 25, 2013; Coreena Ford : ‘Proton’s going for big cell to transport chiefs’, The Journal (Newcastle), August 19, 2013, p.27 and see and,000-hydrogen-refuellings-and-100,000-miles-of-service.
  82. ‘Deal struck for fuel cell bus fleet’, The Calgary Herald (Alberta), March 14, 2013, p.E3.
  83. The Western Mail, May 20, 2013, p.10.
  84. See ‘People power can reduce our electricity use. As energy regulator Ofgem warns that the UK is at increased risk of power cuts this winter, Simon Parker calls on the Government to look at ways to cut consumption rather than focusing exclusively on power generation’(Western Daily Press, July 3, 2013, p.12); ‘British politicians to blame when lights dim’, The Irish Times, July 24, 2013, p.6), etc.
  85. ‘Breakthrough in hydrogen fuel production could revolutionize alternative energy market’, US Fed News, April 4, 2013; ‘Is Iron the New Platinum?, Hydrogen Cars Now, April 3, 2013; ‘Weird Fuzzy Compound Could Be Next Big Fuel Cell Catalyst , CleanTechnica, July 27, 2013; ‘Platinum on the Chopping Block in Fuel Cells’ Hydrogen Cars Now, August 13, 2013.
  86. Yakub Qureshi : ‘Gas from our rubbish could power homes’, Manchester Evening News, August 14, 2013, p.20.
  87. ‘Results of HyperSolar’s Sponsored Research’, Market News Publishing, May 14, 2013.
  88. ‘Smartcard scheme planned for Yorkshire’s trains and buses, Bradford Telegraph and Argus, April 23, 2013; Juliette Bains, ‘Leeds and West Yorkshire gets smartcard for trains and buses, The Yorkshire Evening Post, July 2, 2013.
  89. David Millward, ‘Smartcards for millions of bus passengers’,, September 3, 2011. For Manchester, see ‘Oyster cards on the way at last for Greater Manchester trains, trams and buses’, Manchester Evening News, 2012, July 2.
  90. See, for instance: Bus Management System: Comprehensive CAD/AVL and Passenger Information Systems:; ‘Using global positioning system for bus priority in London: traffic signals close to bus stops’, IET Intelligent Transport Systems, June 2007, ‘Wipo Publishes Patent Of Gipcomp B.V Titled As “Modular Computer System’ Plus Patent News, June 25, 2013. Bus Rapid Transit shows Promise, a report to Congress from the United States General Accounting Office, published as far back as September 2001, compared buses favourably to trams. After listing ‘innovative technologies’ such as those I have mentioned, the report concluded (pp.32-33): ‘In many communities Bus Rapid Transit systems can have lower capital costs than Light Rail systems yet can often provide similar performance’, while having the additional ‘valuable feature’ of flexibility.
  91. See Daphne G. Padfield, ‘Our future cities: concrete enemies’ The Guardian, April 26, 1972, p.12. For a good article on how our cities were sacrificed to the motor car at that time, see Chris Beanland, ‘London: Roads to nowhere’, The Independent, February 11, 2011.
  92. Future transport in cities (Taylor & Francis, 2001).
  93. ‘Traders share in success of road scheme revival’, Manchester Evening News, February 27, 2013, p.4. See video: ‘Poynton regenerated’:
  94. See
  95. See for New Zealand:‘Double-deckers on way for commuters”, The New Zealand Herald, February 21, 2013), ‘Double-decker on order’, The Daily News (New Plymouth, New Zealand), June 1, 2013, p.3; Michael Forbes, ‘New buses will be going back to the future’, The Dominion Post (Wellington, New Zealand). June 1, 2013, p.3. And for Australia: Henry Budd, The Daily Telegraph (Australia), August 24, 2012, p.9; Henry Budd, ‘Experts in search for a short answer to beat Sydney’s gridlock,’ The Daily Telegraph (Australia), May 01, 2013; ‘Double vision for bus run’, The Daily Telegraph (Australia), June 8, 2013, p.13; ‘Sydney welcomes double-decker buses’, Hill Shire Times (Australia), June 11, 2013, p.11. See also for Canada: Keith Gerein: ‘Double-decker buses offer room with a view’, Edmonton Journal (Alberta), August 27, 2013, p.1.
  96. Yorkshire Evening Post, July 16, 2013. The Shorter Oxford Dictionary. Third Edition (1959), p.379, defines the word ‘consultation’ thus: ‘The action of consulting or taking counsel together; deliberation, conference’. The French equivalent expression ‘concertation’ is perhaps clearer (and certainly seems to be better applied, as seen in the case of the Avignon tram (see above fn.9).
  97. NGT makes much of the results of a earlier consultation exercise in 2009. However, as it was carried out in between late June and September 4, much of it took place in holiday time when many people were away (The Yorkshire Post, June 18, 2009; The Yorkshire Evening Post, August 11, 2009). It received nothing like the publicity given to the present exercise.
  98. See James S. Fishkin, When the people speak: Deliberative democracy & Public consultation (OUP 2009), pp.9-12, etc.
  99. Jack Blanchard, ‘Labour rages at referendum plan’, The Yorkshire Post, May 10, 2013.
  100. Yorkshire Evening Post, June 25, 2013.
  101. Yorkshire Evening Post, July 14, 2013.
  102. As John Brown, Pat Gaudin and Wendy Moran, say on the integrity of such a exercise: ‘The consultor must be willing to listen to the views advanced by consultees and be prepared to be influenced when making subsequent decisions (If decisions have already been taken, such a consultation is a ‘fraud’ and ‘purposeless exercise’)’(PR and Communication in Local Government and Public Services (Kogan Page 2013), p. 84).
  103. See Anna Minton ‘Undemocratic developments’, The Financial Times, November 30, 2012.
  104. Over recent months this complaint has been frequently echoed in The Yorkshire Evening, concerning subjects such as: fortnightly bin collections (YEP, September 14, 2012); The West Park Centre (YEP, February 15, 2013, June 13, 2013, June 18, 2013, June 19, 2013); The Kirkgate Market (YEP, March 7, 2013); HS2 (YEP, February 19, 2013, April 25, 2013); a Chapel Allerton supermarket (YEP, June 17, 2013); Sunday and evening car parking charges — where the Council came a bit unstuck by organising a poll the results of which they then refused to accept (YEP, June 21, 2013) –; The Elland Road Park and Ride (YEP, April 25, 2013); care home closures (YEP, March 1, 2013, July 3, 2013), and housing developments at Thorpe Arch and Cookridge (YEP, July 8, 2013, July 9, 2013), etc.
  105. Sustaining Heritage. Giving the Past a Future (Sydney University Press 2007), p.160. His source for saying this is Ian Strange & David Whitney, ‘The Changing Roles and Purposes of Heritage Conservation in the UK’, Planning, Practice & Research, Vol. 18, No. 2–3 (May–August, 2003, pp. 219–229 (p.226).
  106. The Guardian, October 16, 2010.
  108. See Martin Wainwright, The Guardian, October 4, 2004, p.5; Yorkshire Evening Post, September 18, 2006.
  109. The Yorkshire Post, July 18, 2008; cf. YEP, July 18, 2008.
  110. ‘A tale of two cities as once stagnant developments rise up from the rubble’, The Yorkshire Post, June 19, 2013.
  111. The Yorkshire Evening Post, November 30, 2006.
  112. The Yorkshire Evening Post, January 1, 2008.
  113. The Yorkshire Evening Post, August 9, 2012.
  114. See
  115. See ‘Central Leeds: New name and new dawn for troubled Clarence Dock’, The Yorkshire Evening Post, August 5, 2012.
  116. See
  117. Philippa J. Benson & Susan C. Silver, What editors want: a author’s guide to scientific journal publishing (The University of Chicago Press 2013), p.143.
  118. David Shatz, Peer review: a critical enquiry (Rowman & Littlefield 2004), p.70.
  119. See Heather Brooke, ‘Media: The importance of our right to know’, The Guardian, October 30, 2006, p.2; Heather Brooke, Freedom – only if we can get the information, The Times, February 6, 2007, p.5.
  120. Improving Public Transport Through Light Rail. Report by the comptroller and auditor general HC 518 Session 2003-2004: 23 April 2004, p.25. The numbers for jobs created by the Nottingham Tram have also been contested (‘More jobs have been lost since tram arrived’, Nottingham Evening Post, September 26, 2012, p.14). The report from the National Audit Office also raises (pp.4-5) some interesting questions which, through concerning trams, are not without having some bearing on the claims made for the trolleybus: anticipated benefits had been over-estimated: passenger numbers, and therefore passenger benefits, had been lower than expected, light rail systems were not fully integrated with other forms of public transport, light rail had had a limited impact on road congestion, pollution and road accidents, it was not clear what impact light rail has had on regeneration and social exclusion. This tendency to over-estimate the benefits of light rail systems ‘over competing, less capital-intensive options’ had already been picked up by an analyst for the U.S. Department of Transportation, the American transport economist at MIT Dr Don H Pickrell, in ‘A desire named streetcar: fantasy and fact in rail transit planning’ Journal of the American Planning Association, vol. 58 (1992):
  121. As a small sample: from January to August 2013, for the British Isles alone, the phrase ‘creating 4,000 jobs’ cropped up in promises connected to the following: The Superfast Cornwall partnership (West Briton, January 3, 2013, p.10), Computer chip giant Intel (The Sun, January 26, 2013, p.26, A tidal barrier in Ipswich (Construction Digital, February 8, 2013), Centrica and North Sea Cygnus gas field (Progressive Media – Company News, February 28, 2013), A new shopping centre in Stoke on Trent (The Sentinel (Stoke) March 2, 2013, p.8, Plymouth City Council (The Plymouth Herald, March 27, 2013, p.9), Travelodge to open a further 145 hotels in the capital (The Times, March 16, 2013, p.58), Scottish Power (Metro (UK), April 18, 2013, p.29), Able UK wanting to build a £450m marine energy park off North Killingholme (Yorkshire Post, May 15, 2013), Cardiff-based Hospital Innovations working with Airbus (The Western Mail, May 21, 2013, p.33), Jobs Growth Wales (The Western Mail, June 5, 2013, p.21), A £450 million energy park on the Humber (Scunthorpe Telegraph, August 8, 2013, p.11), etc., etc.
  122. See Rachel Reeves: ‘Why are we waiting for a bus transport system that actually serves the public?’, The Yorkshire Post, May 28, 2012.
  123. In September 2012, the Council was seen to be ‘desperately trying to save about £50m to help it tackle public spending cuts’ (David Marsh, The Yorkshire Evening Post, September 14, 2012). On top of the £90m savings achieved in 2011-2012, the plan was to save £55m in the financial year 2012-2013 (David Marsh, YEP, October 12, 2012). It claimed to have made savings of around £145m between 2010 and 2012 (David Marsh, YEP, November 23, 2012). In February 2013, however, while blaming central government, and describing its budget as the most ‘painful’ in recent years, the Council then announced that the sum that needed to be saved in the coming year had risen from £51 to ‘almost £55m’ (£54.9m), and revealed that ‘eight residential homes and four adult day centres could close, a grant for school uniforms could be scrapped and nursery fees may rise as they try to slash the city’s running costs in 2013/14’, with the loss of a further 300 public service jobs ‘taking the total of redundancies to 2,000 since 2010’ (Sophie Hazan, YEP, February 8, 2013). The council is set to shed another 1,000 staff before 2015 (Jonathan Brown, YEP, March 4, 2013). The care homes under threat, included Manorfield House, Amberton Court, Burley Willows, Fairview, Primrose Hill and Musgrave Court (Jonathan Brown, YEP, March 27, 2013).

    In February 2013, ‘Key services in Yorkshire’ we were told, were ‘at breaking point’ (YEP, February 26, 2013). The budget, bringing in cuts and savings which included ‘raising nursery fees for subsidised childcare by £2 a day’ was approved at the end of February, which the majority rejecting ‘proposals to introduce a living wage to help lower paid council staff, earmark more money to employ more in-house foster carers and even fund an up to £12m housing scheme to boost the local economy’ (Joanthan Brown, YEP, February 28, 2013). In April we were told that Leeds had a total reserve of £70.6 million, of which £25.4 million had not been allocated for any specific projects (YEP, April 19, 2013). In June Leeds City Council leader Keith Wakefield said that the council would be forced ‘to find savings over and above the £300 million already made in the last three years’ (James Reed, YEP, June 27, 2013).

    In a recent article in The Yorkshire Evening Post (August 28, 2013) under the title ‘Four Leeds care homes to close’, Sandie Keene, Leeds City Council’s director of adult social services, is quoted as saying: ‘The reality is it will be £4m a year that the council doesn’t have to spend in the way it is doing now’. This is the latest article of many in the paper discussing cuts. Over the last year these (big and small) have included : Fortnighly rather than weekly bin collections for about 40,000 homes (Sophie Hazan, YEP, September 11, 2012, November 23, 2012, December 11, 2012, April 25, 2013) – Shedding council staff : 1,800 between 2010 and 2012m with plans for a further suppression of 1,200 jobs (David Marsh, YEP, October 12, 2012) – The decision to close and demolish The West Park Community Centre (YEP, Laura Bowyer, November 23, 2012, Jonathan Brown, March 7, 2013; Aisha Iqbal, June 12, 2013) – Eight council-run care homes and four adult day centres were placed under threat of closure (February 9, 2013) – Wanting to scrap ‘free bus passes for the majority of Catholic schoolchildren in the city’ and ‘for some school and college students aged over 16 and for some youngsters aged over 16 with special educational needs’ to reduced the £4.76m currently spent on this scheme (Mark Lavery,YEP, February 19, 2013) – Wanting to close Fairview Dementia Home (February 20, 2013) – Closing a 21-bed hostel for the homeless (Debbie Leigh, March 1, 2013) – Closure of Primrose Hill Care Home in Boston Spa (YEP, March 6, 2013; Jonathan Brown, YEP, April 24, 2013, April 26, 2013, June 21, 2013) – Plans to turn off a number of water fountains across Leeds (Laura Bowyer, YEP, April 12, 2013) – Closure of Musgrave Court care home, in Crawshaw Road, Pudsey (Jonathan Brown, YEP, April 15, 2013) – Burley Willows residential home, in Burley (April 18, 2013) – School uniform grant for poorer families axed, to save around £600,000 per annum (Paul Robinson, YEP, April 25, 2013) – Closure of Manorfield House residential home, in Horsforth (Laura Bowyer, April 25, 2013) – Three Leeds City Council-owned Arms Length Housing Management Organisations (ALMO) set to be scrapped, saving the authority up to £2.4m (Jonathan Brown, May 16, 2013). – To switch off around 8,000 of the city’s 92,000 street lights between midnight and 5.30am (June 13, 2013, Sam Casey, June 18, 2013) – Planned closure of Suffolk Court residental home in Yeadon (Jonathan Brown, June 26, 2013), etc., etc.

    At the same time, over the last year, one has not had to look far in The Yorkshire Evening Post for examples of waste: A £2m grass-cutting contract, did not include collection of the cut grass (David Marsh, YEP, August 6, 2012) – The cost of an IT system for social care, set to cost £6.5m., escalated to £16.7m (Sophie Hazan, YEP, August 10, 2012) – The Council had to write off £3.5m in uncollected debts (David Marsh, August 28, 2012) – While shedding staff, the Council was seen to be paying out £30m in agency staff and overtime payments (Davis March, YEP, September 4, 2012) – The cost of maintaining and securing empty buildings across the city had doubled the amount originally forecast to stand at £750,000 in 2012 (David Marsh, September 14, 2012) – During the period September 2007 to September 2012, the Council paid out £1,248,518 in respect to employers liability claims to 534 members of staff (Stuart Robinson, YEP, September 24, 2012) – The Council was found to be ‘overpaying up to £180,000 a year in overtime because rules governing payments were not being adequately followed’ (YEP, November 9, 2012) – Some highly-paid Council officers were seen to be avoiding high rates of tax by being paid up to around £100,000 a year ‘off the pay-roll’, ‘with one officer in particular being paid this way while earning around £75,000 for three years’ (YEP, November 13, 2012) (Leeds City Council spent £23.3m on staff earning over £50,000 in 2011/2012, though this figure was down £292,500 compared to the previous year (YEP, February 20, 2013) – A pharmacy won costs payout from Leeds City Council after the authority admitted ‘flaws’ in its decision-making process (Aisha Iqbal, YEP, March 26, 2013) – In Leeds, the number of employees earning more than £100,000 was 13 in 2011/12, one less than in 2010/11 (YEP, May 10, 2013).

Metro and Tbus

At this evening’s public meeting at Heart, a lady asked how many meetings Metro has had with Tbus, the trolleybus lobby group.

Lady in the audience I’m really concerned about the problem of lobbying, both locally and nationally, I’m concerned too that the Tbus trolleybus lobby group is a key stakeholder in this project. So my question is, “How many meetings have you had with Tbus?”

Councillor Richard Lewis I’ll answer that from my point of view. I’ve never met them.

Councillor James Lewis I’ve never met them either.

Dave Haskins There was a slide I put up at the previous presentation where I listed a number of what I call “stakeholders”. It’s a horrible word. Stakeholders to me are people we communicate with, people we deal with. Operators are stakeholders. Passengers are stakeholders. I hate the word stakeholders by the way. But, there’s a group in the UK called the Tbus Organisation, I think their website is. There’s also groups around the world called UITP who are a global force in knowledge around transport and passenger transport and public transport. There are operators, there are manufacturers, there’s all kinds of people out there. I speak to all of them. All of them. Because they have knowledge, they can help me, give technical information. And I’d be stupid not to speak to these people quite frankly. I’d be stupid to sit at my ask in Leeds and try to learn about how to deliver some things of a high technical nature when there are people far more experienced than me round the world who can give that knowledge. Tbus are a voluntary group very much like what we would have here, a local business group. Tbus, a group of individuals who are enthusiastic about trolleybuses. If you look at their magazines, they’re quite enthusiastic about vintage trolleybuses in some respects, some of them. Some of them like to travel around on the vintage trolleybuses around Europe. I’ve met some of them who have talked to me at length about travelling around on vintage trolleybuses around Europe, which doesn’t interest me in the slightest OK? But equally, they know a lot of information about modern trolleybuses, and they point me in the right direction of who I should speak to, to get knowledge

Gentleman in the audience But they have quite a vested interest in trolleybuses.

Dave Haskins They have no financial interest whatsoever.

Gentleman in the audience I think they do.

Dave Haskins Not that I’m aware of.

Image courtesy of Beth Felice

Opening of the latest Metrolink extension

A Bombardier M5000 tram about to set off from East Didsbury station

The Chorlton to East Didsbury extension of the South Manchester Metrolink opened on the 23rd May. The line is 4.5km long and comprises five new stations and three new trams. It runs along the route of a disused railway line which was purchased by Greater Manchester Council in 1983 for a pound.

The cost of this extension and an additional 3.9km extension from Droylsden to Ashton is £161.2 million, with £120.89 million of the total being provided by central government.

The East Didsbury extension is the third extension to Metrolink to open this year. Trams to Rochdale train station started running in March whilst the East Manchester line to Droylsden opened in February.

The entire Metrolink network is currently being expanded from 37km to 97km at a cost of around £1.5 billion. Ridership is expected to increase from 54,000 in 2010 to more than 190,000 by 2016.

The expansion is being paid for by both central and local government. In 2011, Manchester secured a £500 million loan from the European Investment Bank to help it meet the cost of the expansion programme.




Dept for Transport press release
Manchester Evening News
Global Rail News

Geneva’s new electric bus service without overhead wires

Pictured above is TOSA, a new large capacity electric bus powered by batteries which are flash charged in 15 seconds at every stop and in 3 to 4 minutes at the terminus. TOSA stands for “Transport avec Optimisation du Système d’Alimentation” (Transport with Optimised Powering System) and it has been developed by the Canton of Geneva (OPI), Industrial Services (SIG), Transports Publics Genevois (tpg) and the manufacturer ABB Sécheron.

Thierry Wagenknecht, Technical Director of tpg :

For Transports Publics Genevois (tpg), the objective is clear: meet the challenges of urban public transport development by reducing the growing traffic congestion in the city centre and by making the modal shift – from private to public transport – attractive. Reducing polluting emissions by using renewable energy as much as possible (the electric power purchased by tpg is certified 100% hydro) and putting an end to the visual pollution of overhead trolleybus wires are also priorities. Boosting commercial speed by improving reliability is another. At present, the complexity of the network of overhead wires -serving both trams and trolleybuses – is a source of technical hitches and serious breakdowns.

TOSA is one of the highlights of the 60th International Public Transport Association (UITP) World Congress and Exhibition taking place in Geneva from the 26th to the 30th May 2013. The test vehicle can carry up to 140 passengers and will enter service at the start of the Congress and will transport visitors from Geneva International Airport to the Exhibition Centre at Palexpo until March 2014.




1. Statement by the sponsors of TOSA
2. TOSA website
3. AVEM electric and hybrid vehicle website