Drawbacks

fourGantries and wires will mean extensive cutting back of trees.

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  1. Trolley buses and trams really only work where they can have their own dedicated lane, so they run at maximum speed whilst other traffic runs at congested speed. Ours would run on already congested roads with only some preferences at traffic lights (but extra traffic lights to allow this, which will slow everyone including the trolley buses).

    It is only if public transport has the advantages of speed and cost that people will abandon their cars to use it. The estimated speed savings of 3 or 4 minutes maximum are simply insufficient; Metro is already talking about increasing the fares because of the funding shortfall.

  2. This is a 30 yr old scheme ! (from when Supertram was first discussed). Developments in transport technology may well mean that by the time these trolleys are in operation, if adopted, good electric buses will be available making trolley buses (electric buses on wires) totally obsolete. London is already installing charging points for electric vehicles – other cities will follow.
  3. To gain even the 3 or 4 minute advantage, stops will be very far apart, meaning the trolleys are really only of use to people coming from a distance, not to people living within the Leeds ring road. Yet most of NGT will run within the Leeds ring road.
  4. Where trolleys and trams have worked, it tends to be over long journeys where there is considerable distance between settlements and wide freeways where they can run in their own dedicated lanes. Or in hilly areas like San Francisco where the “cable car” type of tram with its good acceleration on hills can be beneficial.
  5. The trolleys will have lots of disadvantages for people living along their route (and visual disadvantages for other travellers). Mature trees, which take centuries to grow, will be lost (saplings cannot replace these, even where there is still room for these). Traffic stacking to give the trolley some advantage will mean the belching out of fumes from other, stacked, traffic; for example over the park Woodhouse Moor beside the University where it is likely to affect the health and wellbeing of local people including students. The wires will be unsightly, and unnecessary when good electric buses become available. Whilst modern trolleys can run off wires for periods, if the intention is to do this why have the wires in the first place ? Wires will tie the trolleys to routes except in emergency, reducing flexibility.
  6. The planned “bendy bus” style of trolley bus has problems because of its length – sheer size, difficulty manipulating turns, etc. Large vehicles will only really be needed in the “rush hour”. At minimum passenger times, smaller buses or a mini-bus may be far more energy efficient; technology can aid in overseeing passenger numbers and requirements at differing times of day, and allow response to unusual passenger volumes.
  7. I believe there are problems in the Kirkgate Market area which could lead to the shrinking of the size of this important market – the well situated central Millgarth Police station, which would also have been affected, is already moving, a move which is not good for the public or police logistics and which has doubtless been stimulated by the expected NGT land take.
  8. The planned “Headingley Bypass” has lots of problems all of its own – including land take, delays where the trolley moves onto and off the proposed new road, the fact that it takes the trolley off the route where passengers want to be.
  9. There is already a problem of space in the Asda car park at Holt Park; NGT will make the situation there far worse.
  10. Cycle paths are also affected – in some areas an alternative is possible by taking land from adjoining properties (is this good?) but some areas will lose their cycle lanes completely.
  11. The quietness of the trolleys in combination with drivers attempting to keep to scheduled times may make these especially dangerous for blind and disabled people. There is modern technology to make using buses easier for blind people (see www.rnib.org.uk/bus – the RNIB have a current campaign) – nothing about this in the NGT scheme.
  12. I understand that no integrated ticketing is planned, so if people have to get off the trolley and continue on a bus to reach their destination, their travel could become impossibly expensive, further inhibiting use of the trolleys.
  13. At the Consultation in 2009 I was told that there is simply not room for a proper Interchange between the trolleys and Leeds City Rail Station; that traffic engineers had tried restricting vehicle lanes in that area to allow for space for a proper interchange and found that traffic tailed back to the motorway.
  14. The trolley bus system, unbelievably, will not extend to the Airport. Of course this is good as a light rail system for this would be far better (not that one is currently planned), but it is nevertheless unbelievable that this essential route has been left out of the “New Generation Transport” application.
  15. There is already a funding shortfall – the Government grant covers only £173.5m of the estimated £250m; Metro says it will meet £57.1m (but of course this is money no longer available for other transport projects in the area; it is not a grant) leaving £20m for Leeds citizens to fund at this time when other services are being disastrously cut. Projects are notorious for not keeping to budget, so the actual funding shortfall is likely to be much more – all for a scheme which is so unpopular, will not reduce congestion and has so many disadvantages.
  16. These trolleys are made in Germany – why not support British engineering companies and jobs, as Transport for London is doing with its new Hybrid bus ? (This bus has actually been created for London I understand).
  17. The YEP article welcoming the agreement to fund the trolleys, says “The system is modelled on those in Athens and Lyon ” But both Athens and Lyon have good Metro (underground) systems – their trolleys are supplementary:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athens_Metro
    http://www.athensguide.com/buses.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyon_Metro

  18. Leeds has been offered funding for only a trolley bus scheme because that is all Metro has asked for. There are questions here as to whether Metro, which covers the whole of West Yorkshire, is the right organisation to design the public transport system which is so crucial to the future wellbeing of Leeds.
  19. The coalition government has said it is willing to fund large
    infrastructure projects which will boost the economy – a proper integrated transport system for Leeds which includes underground sections where needed is surely in this category as it will boost the economy, create lots of jobs both directly and indirectly and unlike the trolleys should see Leeds far into the future.

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Leeds is the 2nd largest urban conurbation after London. It is the only major city which does not have a light rail or underground system.

If Leeds does get a trolley bus system, it will be quickly obsolete as congestion increases. Only a well designed, integrated system with electric buses, light rail and underground where required (for example along the A660 where the road is just too narrow for anything else) will get people out of their cars and meet the needs of Leeds in times to come, allowing Leeds to prosper as well as reclaiming the streets for people against the relentless advance of the motor car. Just think what we could do if we could even shrink space swallowed by parking – the released land could pay for the system.

Unfortunately NGT is simply a glossy brochure, which will not give the benefits claimed. Some have called it “folleybus” .