John Eddison ( letters 18th Oct raises some interesting questions about the claims made for and the supposed benefits of trams. First of all Bath Trams is not in anyway opposed to buses. Our position is that trams must form the backbone of any decent transport system on the proven basis that motorists simply do not find buses acceptable for a variety of reasons; low prestige, noisy, jerky, bumpy, cramped and the inability to operate throughout the day reliably and at a high frequency. Buses are ideally placed to service low traffic rural routes and as tram feeders.
Nowhere have buses alone produced a significant swing away from cars, whereas trams regularly get 30% of the passengers from previous car drivers. This fact alone means the tram can more easily keep on schedule as there is less traffic. All the eight or so UK re-trammings have achieved as a result significant reduction in traffic, congestion, pollution and achieved high economic growth rates and increased prosperity.
If buses are merely offered as an alternative, car drivers will not use them but simply stop visiting Bath and go elsewhere or shop on-line. The documented evidence for all these claims can be found on the Bath Trams website – eg google search “Independent study – What Light Rail Can Do for Cities Bath Trams.
Mr Eddison, letters 20/10/2020, appears to think that advocating trams means writing off buses. The fact is that an integrated transport system involves several modes: buses, trams as well as walking and cycling. Even cars have their part to play for isolated users needing access to park and ride schemes.
The great advantages of trams include: getting drivers out of their cars and onto public transport; a way for part-time/older cyclists to keep using their bikes despite the hills; a predictable route and one that gets infrastructure investment – the permanent way is more than just a metaphor – and, most importantly, a massive reduction in the pollutants of exhaust fumes and rubber-tyre particulates.
The original trams were shut down because of market manipulation by the Bristol Bus company at the time not because of any inherent fault. Much is made of the problem of overhead wires yet not only do they happily exist in many historic cities they can be avoided by using batteries and hybrid energy. Tram power sources is a topic that deserves its own article there are many possibilities to suit the situation.