The NGT trolley bus will cause congestion

The NGT trolley scheme has traffic delay designed into it because of “traffic stacking”. All other traffic is halted by traffic lights while trolley buses move across the carriageway to turn onto the sections of the route that is dedicated to the trolley bus. The traffic stacking causes delay to buses by making them wait at traffic lights. There will be least 5 of these traffic-stacking points, in both directions, on the way to Bodington Hall. These are at, Woodhouse Moor (Library), Hyde Park junction, Headingley Hill (top), Shaw Lane/Alma road junction, and the Lawnswood roundabout. All other traffic including commercial vehicles, bicycles, cars, cabs, are in the stack. I don’t know what happens to emergency vehicles. The diagram below is complicated but it is the best effort to explain the system in the light of the lack of information from the NGT proposers.

The core of the system is a small transponder or tag that can be attached into each trolley bus. To interrogate, a reader sends out a radio signal to the transponder via an antenna. The signal carries enough energy to reach a detector. The transponder then returns a signal that carries the data that it is storing. This data has a unique, programmed pin. When a trolley bus is detected approaching the stack the lights change in its favour. Nearly all our buses already carry them and mobile technology tells the operator where the vehicle is. It also alters the fare stage on inboard machines and accumulates statistics for route planning.

NGT – Make cycling safer instead

My opposition to the trolley bus scheme is based on the same arguments as those used against earlier vanity projects on the A660.

I feel the best solution to the problem of congestion on the A660 is to make walking and cycling a pleasanter option. I have been banging on about physically separate cycle lanes for years now and it is good that even the Times newspaper finally agrees. They ran a series of articles calling for separate space for bikes after one of their journalists was run over and nearly killed.

The reason that bike lanes need to be physically separate on busy roads is that it makes cyclists feel safe rather than feeling that they are dicing with death on every journey. This is the only way to get large numbers of people on bikes. Cyclists are every bit as vulnerable as pedestrians. But we wouldn’t dream of taking pavements away. So the principle is well established.

Leeds City Council have been very poor on cycle infrastructure. They refurbished Burley Road and Kirkstall Road without putting in any separate space for bikes. So cyclists still have to share with buses. These were bad missed opportunities.

If road space is lacking I think we need to say there should be less for private motorists. That’s what Copenhagen did way back in the 70s. They spent money on cycle lanes that felt safe. Now they have more cyclists than any city in the world. No noise, no fumes, healthy people.

(photo courtesy of Velovotee)

NGT – Delays caused by trolleybuses will cost business £221 million

According to a recent Department of Transport forecast, the NGT trolleybus scheme will cause delays to general traffic, leading to £100m-plus of disadvantages to highway users, with the biggest impact on business travellers. The department estimates that the total cost to Leeds businesses will be £221m.

These are direct costs and primarily consist of higher vehicle operating costs and the loss in productivity of employees who will be delayed during work time.

The Department predicts that NGT will result in a slight improvement in journey times during the morning rush hour and a significant worsening of journey times during the evening rush hour. The northern route through Headingley will be the worst affected as road users will be held up at the junctions that will be necessary so the trolleybus can run behind the Arndale Centre and through the Shire Oak Road conservation area.

The department speculates that the reason local businesses seem to support NGT is either that the businesses consulted by Metro are unrepresentative, or that they have not been told by Metro how much NGT will cost them. Whichever it is, none of this inspires confidence either in Metro, or NGT.

(photo courtesy of Scoobyfoo)

NGT – Where are the tunnels and cuttings?

In January this year, Transport Secretary Junstine Greening announced changes to the proposed HS2 High Speed Rail link from London to the Midlands that will add an extra £500 million to the total cost. According to The Huffington Post:

Various changes to the proposed route of HS2 were announced today in an attempt to appease local residents and to ward off a possible Tory rebellion from MPs whose constituencies are affected.

Compared to the route on which the Government consulted, there will be a 50% increase in tunnels, totalling around 22.5 miles.

In addition, around 56.5 miles of the 140 miles of the London to West Midlands line will be partially or totally hidden in cutting.

In the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) just over 1.5 miles of the route will be visible.

Where are NGT’s underpasses, tunnels and cuttings?

There is clearly nothing modern about NGT, despite the “New” in the project’s title. Our Victorian great-grandparents would be ashamed at our council’s lack of dynamic thinking.

(photo courtesy of henskechristine)

NGT – Trolleybuses will add to congestion

The NGT trolleybus scheme would produce nothing that could not be achieved by conventional double decker buses in well maintained condition, on good roads, and to a specification at least compatible with that of Yorkshire Coastliner and Harrogate and District (Transdev) vehicles. Bendy buses, diesel or trolley, increase congestion because of their 80% increase in length with no increase in payload and a diesel bendy bus is roughly twice the cost of the double decker. The trolley bus is dearer still, partly on account of the smaller production volume. Mainly used in former Russian and Eurasion states the penalties in this country of using small isolated fleets with regard to spares and operating costs should not be under estimated. There are none currently in Britain and relatively few in Western Europe.

(photo courtesy of Matthew Black)

NGT, Greg Mulholland, and the trip to Budapest

At the start of this year, MP Greg Mulholland flew to Budapest to learn about trolleybuses. During his visit, he was told by a representative of the body that administers Budapest’s transport, that trolleybuses do not lead to increased use of public transport. He was also told that Budapest would like to buy battery powered buses. Subsequently, at a meeting in this country he was told by another representative from Budapest, that the only reason Budapest hasn’t already scrapped its trolleybuses and bought diesel buses, is because they can’t afford to.

And yet despite this, on the 4th July, Mr Mulholland submitted an early day motion to parliament calling for the government to approve funding for the NGT trolleybus scheme in Leeds.

The following day on a secret visit to Leeds, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg announced that funding had been approved, subject to NGT passing the necessary hurdles.

The suspicion is that this was a political decision, not based on the merits or otherwise of the NGT proposal.

And the question arises, why should we pay for MPs like Greg Mulholland to fly abroad on fact finding missions, when they simply ignore the facts that they learn on these trips?

Read more

(photo courtesy of Bruno!)

NGT – The Myth that Trolleybuses are Green

In the late 1990s, the city of Edmonton was considering whether to continue running trolleybuses. A report was produced by consultants Booz Allen Hamilton which found that trolleybuses had higher capital and operating costs and are more polluting than both diesel and hybrid buses. The emission factors in the table below were extracted from the table on page 33 of the report.

As a result of this damning report, Edmonton scrapped its trolleybus system, and began a trial of hybrid buses.

95% of the electricity generated in Alberta comes from the burning of fossil fuels. This compares with 72.5% in the UK. These percentages have been factored into the emission factors for trolleybuses in the table above, to arrive at adjusted figures indicating the likely emissions from the proposed NGT trolleybuses.


THC – total hydrocarbons
CO – carbon monoxide
NOX – nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide
PM10 – particulate matter of less than 10 micrometers
PM2.5 – particulate matter of less than 2.5 micrometers
CO2 – carbon dioxide

NGT finance – A future nightmare for Leeds

It appears that the financing of the Leeds NGT trolley bus scheme is something the lobbyists who will profit from scheme, are keen to hush up.

In July 2012, the official NGT website ‘transport extra’ announced £173.5 million government funding to enable the Leeds New Generation Transport (NGT) trolleybus network to go ahead. The estimated total cost is widely reported to be about £250 million. Because the Government refuses to finance the whole scheme, this leaves a shortfall of £76.5 million that Leeds City Council will have to find in the “Age of Austerity”. Leeds has already been earmarked for a range of cuts amounting to £96 million in the current period.

This estimated £76.5 million can only come through a combination of more cuts to services, PFI loans, and rises in Council Tax. Cost overruns and debt servicing will be very large: a lot more than £76.5 million.

PFI (Private Finance Initiative) is notoriously expensive. It is likened to paying your mortgage with a credit card. Current analysis shows that £1 borrowed will require about £6 in repayment. The trolleybus financial load is too much for the City to carry.

All local councillors should now be asking questions about this aspect of the trolley bus.

The diagram below from the Guardian of 6th July 2012 best illustrates the cost of PFI:

NGT – the energy efficiency myth – part 2

The trolleybus lobby keep telling us that trolleybuses are more energy efficient than diesel buses. The internet is flooded with their misinformation. For example:

The Tbus Group who claim, “the trolleybus is more than twice as energy efficient as the diesel”

The Trolley Coalition, who say exactly the same thing.

Trolleybuses for West London who also say exactly the same thing.

There are lots more examples of the same misinformation being repeated over and over again.

This quote from a New Scientist article published in 1976 states the true position regarding the energy efficiency of trolleybuses:

NGT – the energy efficiency myth – part 1

The scientific method that represents power production efficiency in power stations and vehicle energy efficiency are called Sankey diagrams. I have attached one below. They are good at illustrating the problem with power stations.


Power production efficiency in power stations and vehicle energy efficiency, in any type of vehicle, are totally different matters. It’s wrong to confuse the two.

After the electricity is made in a power station, losing 70% to heat losses, it loses more in transmission to the city and more in transforming the current to the NGT system. After that the electric cable and the vehicle lose even more. The total efficiency is hard to calculate on the NGT, but it will be in the region of 10%.

Diesel engines with intercoolers, turbo chargers with digitally-controlled fuel injection produce very high efficiency-up to 50% is not uncommon. They are used on the new First Bus double-deckers.

Electrical vehicles have an advantage over diesel because they accelerate and decelerate faster. Also they produce no local pollution.

Both types of motors suffer on urban travel because they constantly stop and start.

The diesel still has a big very big edge in overall fuel efficiency over power station produced electricity vehicles such as the NGT.