City needs transport solutions more quickly than planned

From: Dan Laythorpe, Kendal Bank, Little Woodhouse, Leeds.

SO Leeds is actually going to get its trolleybus. I am truly surprised that a full-sized transport scheme (well, a partial one, really) could be authorised after being denied for so long by a hitherto vindictively tightwad Department of Transport, especially under the deluded quasi-Tory-New Labour regime (I say this as a long-term Labour voter).

Sure, we’ve had some piecemeal improvements sanctioned in recent years such as Kirkstall Forge and Apperley Bridge rail stations, Leeds City Station south entrance (construction on all of which is yet to commence) and Kirkstall Road bus lanes (awaiting opening). There has been nothing like a transport scheme of appreciable scale.

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However, any rejoicing is to be somewhat muted when we learn that construction is not to start until 2016 with system completion by 2018 – six years hence. This for a single electric bus route. Leeds needs solutions – and better solutions – far, far sooner than that.

Why do such projects in this benighted country take so long to get off the ground, let alone be completed? In France the normal time for an equivalent starter tramway system to be completed from initial scheme proposal until commencement of service is three years.

Nowadays, some seven years after New Labour’s demolition job on what would have been an efficient and well-used Supertram scheme, transport authority Metro still, very rightly, has ambitions to introduce light rail to Leeds city centre streets in the form of tram-train, running on part of the Harrogate heavy rail line to Horsforth and the airport, hopefully extending to Yeadon, Guiseley and eventually via the Airedale-Wharfedale lines to Shipley and onto Bradford city centre streets.

There are also aspirations to extend to Castleford and the five towns and also to the projected Lower Aire Valley regeneration area, east of Cross Green, I believe. I would also propose a further extension to Cross Gates, Pendas Fields, Stanks, Scholes and a new park and ride site on the A64 York Road.

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If this were seriously to be pursued, surely it would be not only wise and logical but also desirable to construct these tram-train tracks in Leeds city centre that would overlap with the trolleybus route – on western Boar Lane I would guess – before 2016, thus avoiding the costly and lengthy disruption that would inevitably occur to the by then established trolley bus service.

Let us hope, with due caution of course, that this package of new powers for the region – the City Deal – proves to be as good as it has been made to sound by the politicos. However, the prospect that our region should have much greater local control over how our money is spent, to the benefit of the region, is welcome.

From: Jeff Pearey, lead director – North East Region, Jones Lang LaSalle, City Point, King Street, Leeds.

COMING some five years after plans were first discussed, Leeds is set to become the first UK city to get a modern trolleybus (Yorkshire Post, July 6), albeit work isn’t due to start until 2016 and we are told will be completed in 2018.

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As a businessman marketing Leeds and the wider Yorkshire region to potential property occupiers and investors, the city’s attractiveness as a location for business and investment are vital.

The trolleybus proposals come at a time when significant and exciting property schemes in the city, such as Trinity Leeds and the Leeds Arena, are being developed and as such any steps to improve our local connectivity and help to tackle road congestion should be welcomed.

Evidently it will be about another six years before we will see trolleybuses in Leeds so there is much water to pass under the bridge just yet.

Naturally I will remain a little sceptical until formalised plans are announced.

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While many observers debate the merits of an electric trolleybus versus that of supertram, it is paramount that funding and investment to develop the region’s travel infrastructure continues and that we do not go back to the drawing board yet again.

The longer term growth of the city region is dependent on Leeds and the region’s current and future population having access to a first-class public transport system.

From: TE Marston, Cambridge Street, Otley.

your recent articles (Yorkshire Post, July 6) are certainly very emotive.

We are losing one of our proudest of regiments and also facilities for treating children with heart complaints, I presume in the interests of economy?

Never mind. There is good news on the horizon as we are going to spend £250m on trolleybuses (remember them?) running on a nine-mile route from nowhere to nowhere across the city centre.