BABATA / Bath Trams Success with West of England Combined Authority comitting to the tram lines in 10 years one going to Bath

From Chronicle 28th October. NOW LETS GET TRAM SYSTEMS ON TRACK Dan Norris the Metropolitan Mayor for the West of England has pub- licly stated twice his ambition (West of England Combined Authority Public Scrutiny meeting 11th October – available online) to build two tram routes in the next 10 years. Under the previous West of Eng- land Combined Authority (Weca) mayor, who favored more roads, trams warranted only a vague men- tion at some time in the future with no definite commitment. (Even this mention came only after pres- sure from Bath and Bristol Area Trams Association – BABATA). This change follows seven years of relentless pressure from the association promoting the benefits of trams, after the total failure of the Bristol metro bus scheme in terms of tackling congestion, pollution, mobility and urban regeneration. The previous Weca mayor was in favour of more metro bus type schemes. The Mayor of Bristol also reiter- ated this, specifically mentioning trams and light rail in his State of the City Address, Wednesday 20th at Bristol University. (And note the Bristol Mayor is NOT promoting a citywide underground system as he is widely misreported to be. He is in favour of a light rail/tram system with one or two short underground sections to avoid obstructions.) Whilst it is encouraging to note that the government has recently announced money specifically for large light rail tram schemes in eg Liverpool and the West Midlands, due to the failure of the previous Weca mayor, Bristol and the South West has achieved no such fund- ing. But we hope this will now change with Mr Norris and Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees. We promote trams as the back- bone of an effective public trans- port system linking with buses for less dense areas for a number of reasons: Trams have five times the passen- ger carrying capacity of a compet- ing bus route; Trams have a proven ability to attract previous car drivers (which are after all the congestion) due to trams offering greater comfort, prestige, punctuality and reliability – much more so than buses; proven ability to regenerate cit- ies; Highly efficient use of energy, 1/5 that of a bus, and can run directly on renewable electricity; 1/3 the total lifetime energy con- sumption of an equivalent bus ser- vice; Much greater service frequency and reliability – every six minutes – “turn-up and go”; All seven British recently installed tram systems (Notting- ham, Croydon, Docklands, Edin- burgh, Manchester, Sheffield, New- castle, Birmingham) have been a success in cutting congestion, pol- lution and reversing urban decline. The reported new routes will be from south of Bristol to the airport and from Bristol through Keyn- sham to Bath. (Some moneys have recently been announced to upgrade these bus services which BABATA supports, but this does not prejudice the later installation of trams/light rail. Bath or Bristol does not want a bus-based guided bus rapid transit system which has been under con- sideration as these have always proved a failure in the UK and else- where, due to their low capacity and necessity of cramming people together and other intrinsic prob- lems. Bath and Bristol need a proper light rail/tram system, not a repeat of the failed Bristol metro bus fiasco. This would also serve the new housing proposed near Keyn- sham and reduce the need for car usage there. Such a line could con- tinue through Bath to Bathford and be the first of many lines in Bath. BABATA wants to see ultimately a full tram system re-installed in Bath and a link to Radstock, with all future housing to be located near a suitable tram line as is the norm in many continental cities such as Freiburg, Germany, where this approach has drastically reduced car usage and increased walking and cycling. BABATA says it is time to stop dropping new housing estates on green field sites, and then building new ‘infrastructure’ i.e. roads mak- ing it then necessary to drive to a city for work and services. Dave Andrews Chair of BABATA

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