First’s bus proposals could increase congestion

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From: James Lewis, Chairman, Metro, Leeds.

I WAS interested to read the outline proposals for introducing new vehicles that First is putting forward as an alternative to the trolleybus (Yorkshire Post, February 11). First, which operates services along the route of NGT’s Line One is an affected business and Metro will be holding further discussions with the company to discuss the company’s thinking in detail.

NGT has been designed as high quality, high capacity system that, having secured £173m of Government funding, will begin a transformation of transport in Leeds and West Yorkshire. First’s proposals would seemingly forsake that £173m investment, invest in a fleet of buses and rely on the £100m earmarked from the West Yorkshire Transport Fund for bus infrastructure improvements across the county.

Ninety per cent of NGT’s cost will be on infrastructure designed to ensure punctuality, reliability and faster journeys by maximising segregation and priority for NGT vehicles. And we know that to minimise or eradicate disadvantages to other road users, you can only give trolleybuses or buses a certain level of priority at junctions, which along the A660 route is around 10 buses per hour in each direction

It seems that by proposing buses with around half the capacity of trolleybuses, First would need to run 20 buses an hour to achieve the same results as NGT, which would risk the desired performance standards as well as adding to congestion.

These and other issues need to be considered in detail.

We can agree however that the Metro’s introduction of smartcard MCards, which are already being used by around 500,000 bus and train passengers across West Yorkshire, will speed up boarding times for buses and trolleybuses.