15th October Publ, 11th in sequence of letters in Chronicle. John Edison, Sheila Hillman

Dear Editor,

Don’t rush to write off benefits of buses
Dave Andrews made some interesting and valid points in his letter in the Chronicle, (October 8) but also some rather questionable assertions about the benefit of trams.

Some thoughts. Public transport, which of course includes trams, will never replace motor vehicles
entirely, unless these are banned altogether, because of comfort, convenience and reliability, as Mr Andrews acknowledges. Cycling will not fill many gaps, as it is unlikely to be more than a minority
interest, not least in a hilly place like Bath.

It would be interesting to see the supposed evidence for the benefits of trams, as opposed to more buses, as buses in principle are more flexible in terms of timing, availability and routes than trams. And like trams, they can carry large numbers of passengers.

So it is difficult to understand why trams are said to offer a quality of service that buses supposedly do not. Mr Andrews asserts this is the case, but provides no evidence.

It is true that bus routes can be converted to trams, which then provide the alternative to cars, and can indeed be given priority over other traffic, as could buses with the right investment. It is worth pointing out though that installing tram routes, where geography allows, is very expensive and disruptive, as shown in Edinburgh.

If an authority invests such large amounts of capital, there is a natural tendency to arrange for it to fulfil the promised benefits and reluctance to abandon it subsequently. It is worth pointing out that trams were a common sight earlier in the last century, but were all withdrawn by about the 1960s. Although they have been reintroduced in some places, in Sheffield for example, this has been helped by the local geography
The other interesting point offered about trams is the ability to run without overhead wires, but no
mention of how they pick up their renewable electricity, and no evidence for the claim of one fifth the energy of a bus (the electricity has to be generated somewhere). Do they run on batteries, which need recharging, or fuel cells or some other source of electricity? We are not told. If an aim is to reduce diesel emissions, then buses (and cars) powered in the same way as the proposed trams would achieve this, but without the trouble of digging up roads to lay tracks, which would then be unnecessary. Trams have attractions, but the value for money argument appears
John Eddison

Dear Editor,

I write in full support of the arguments and evidence to invest in a modern tram system for Bath as in the letter last week from Bath area trams Association.

One argument I will refer to in supporting tram routes over bus routes is the fact that tram routes stay the same and are not subjected to constant change as bus services are.

In a city such as Bath it is frustrating and confusing to experience constant tampering with bus routes. This can lead to using a car because it is too much effort to check if the bus route is viable. This applies to residents and visitors.

Trams routes do not pose this problem. Trams inspire confidence in the user.

Also, visitors to Bath know they cannot get lost because if they just stay on the tram it will end up back where they started and I often use this method to explore continental cities. I would never do that with a bus.

Having permanent tram routes would also encourage enterprise along its route and around particular destination sites. This would open up appropriate opportunities for development on the outskirts of the city.

That tram routes encourage the proliferation of shops and commerce all over the city can be observed by noting all the faded shop and business advertisements painted on walls and the old shops that have been converted to dwellings These are almost exclusively along the old tram routes.

Kind regards,

Sheila  Hillman