The short case for buses and trams combined

In conjunction with feeder buses,  trams are a great solution:

  • Even on narrow shared roads, trams can mover quickly due to Green Wave Traffic Light Preemption, which for various reasons cannot be readily applied to buses
  • Trams  can thus run reliably and economically every 6 minutes sometimes 2 minutes, much more frequently than buses,  making them attractive to cross town car users which would need two trams and on  the school run where they can afford to run from early to late whereas buses are infrequent outside main school hours. This is because they  have much lower running costs than buses and much faster boarding and de-boarding due to many large doors which buses can’t have ( for structural engineering reasons) and no stairs.

  • Due to their high running costs, buses have to cram people together in bench seats and have longer service intervals in order to concentrate enough passengers.
  • International experience shows that people will readily transfer from cars to trams, because trams are frequent and reliable, and seen as high status, smooth, not cramped and comfortable, whereas buses ( any rubber tyred vehicle ) are not seen as attractive being cramped in bench seats, infrequent, noisy and liable to be stuck in traffic. This is a result of buses and trams being fundamentally different types of engineering vehicles –  a bus has to be lightweight and flimsy, has large rubber wheels and together with structural issues cannot have multiple large doors.

Trams in the city:

  • Trams have a much higher carrying capacity ( passengers per hour) than buses, and they use road space around 30 times more efficiently than cars, 4-5 times more than buses.

  • Trams are electric and leave no pollution in the city, whereas buses are one of the main contributors to poor air quality – half of the pollution coming from tyre and road dust NOT the exhaust.
  • In the city centre trams can run on batteries removing the need for overheads cables.
  • Trams can negotiate the hills in Bath, as well as the narrow streets and  the bends on the proposed routes – just like in Lisbon.
  • Because tram are fixed and inflexible, the routes attract investors and developers and increase economic activity which buses do not

Trams are the long-term proven solution:

  • Electric trams are a proven solution that has been shown to have many benefits in over 60 European cities, some of which are smaller in size than Bath.
  • Because tram operators can borrow money at extremely low long term rates, private funding would provide a superior tram service at less cost than buses per passenger mile, and zero cost to council.

In most cases it will be quicker for users to take two tram for a cross town journey – which is most of Bath’s congestion, into the centre then out again – max wait 6 minutes, no problem with parking:

mapThe proposed routes are similar to the original routes in Bath and could include a loop around the city centre.

  • Bathford via Batheaston
  • Bath University
  • Combe Down via Wellsway
  • Southdown via Oldfield Park
  • Twerton
  • Bath Spa University via Newbridge and the
  • Weston Village
  • Lansdown

Trams work well in pedestrian areas – Kassel

notice how the people freely wander and walk near the tram tracks because they are quieter and they always take the same track.

From: TFGB – Transport Forum for Greater Bristol:, Campaigns, Rapid Transit plan.