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Last week’s letters appeared luke warm towards trams reducing Bath’s chronic traffic congestion and toxic pollution. In the absence of any practical alternative the correspondents presumably favour more of the same; polluting buses and congesting cars ? Bath station is already at capacity and does not cater for trips within the city, where over 50% are under 3miles and most are made by car. People need to travel to get to work, education, shopping and personal business. Without an alternative acceptable to car users, they will continue to drive. If Bath was flat like Holland, a network of cycleways would attract short trips. Not everyone can cycle, so how else to attract trips from cars ?
Many cities have Underground Metros. Crossrail in London shows these are expensive and take a long time to complete. 90% of the benefits of a Metro can be got at 10% of the cost with trams. A new tram system is being opened somewhere in the world every two weeks. Until 1939 Bath had a profitable tramway, that also carried parcels and other freight. More importantly trams get people out of cars. On average 25% of passengers on UK tramways have left a car at home. In Croydon traffic has reduced by a fifth, while it has grown in the rest of London.
This is why Bath Trams is promoting integrated bus links from rural areas to the City’s tramway. Trams with co-ordinated traffic management will run the trunk routes, and provide the equivalent capacity of a 6 lane road. Every line will have an edge of city park and ride stop. Those driving from outside will benefit from a tram ride, and need not worry about the cost or difficulty of finding a parking space in the City centre.
A bus-only solution with top of the range Bendybuses was tried in Swansea but abandoned after 6 years, as too few car trips transferred. It will be interesting to see how well the Bristol busway does. Over the last 50 years there have been repeated tries at getting people to switch to buses, all like Swansea have failed. In Bath only about 6% of trips are by bus with over 60% by car. Those who have doubts about a tramway in Bath, if unable to accept the that trams attract car trips, might propose an equally effective alternative at the Conference organized by Wera Hobhouse MP on 24th Nov in the Widcombe Social Centre ?
Prof. LJS Lesley BSc, AKC, PhD, CEng, FRSA, MICE, FCIT, MTPS.
30 Moss Lane,
Liverpool L9 8AJ
Tel 0151 521 5509