Links from the letter to Tom Bowles West of England Mayor
- Lectures and learned conferences
- More roads mean more traffic
- New roads create new traffic
- Plans for new roads threaten Bristol’s countryside
- British group receives funding to develop low-cost LRT track system
- Respond well to a coherent, over ground mass transit strategy
- Greater capacity than buses
- Operate more frequently
- Crucially create 14% traffic reduction whilst
- Trams also deliver 90% of the benefit of underground but at 10% of the cost
- And in fact trams in city centres are cheaper than buses
- Green Wave Traffic Light Pre-emption
- Bath trams website
- Rail Professional article
- Pollution nor deliver rapidity of transit nor encourage car users
This letter is a result of detailed consultation with other well-known Bristol transport groups and we continue to be disappointed by WECA’s lack of engagement. Despite being invited to several of our lectures and learned conferences[i] – attended by some of the country’s leading experts – you have not agreed to speak nor sent any of your staff.
We are therefore combining forces and resources with other transport groups to ensure there is a large representative interest group for the West of England’s residents with a strong media profile. This means we will be better able to help WECA, to engage with citizens to improve the quality of life by providing attractive public transport together with walking and cycling.
We believe that that the JTLP4, is a set of proposed alternatives to the car which are delivering nothing of any consequence. At the same time, WECA is pressing on rapidly with large and costly road building schemes, against the globally-agreed need to cut fossil fuel use, air pollution and the well-known fact that building more roads simply creates more traffic at a later date. For example, articles in New Civil Engineer More roads mean more traffic[ii] and the Campaign for Better Transport New roads create new traffic[iii] and in Bristol Dr Steve Melia of UWE’s article in The Bristol Cable Plans for new roads threaten Bristol’s countryside[iv]
In contrast, the West Midlands & Manchester Authorities, and others, have taken a leadership approach and are setting long-term, high level integrated public transport strategies and delivering them. In fact, the West Midlands WECA has just announced funding towards an ultra-light rail system for Coventry[v].
Given your stated aim of reducing car use, the clear evidence is that motorists would respond well to a coherent, over ground mass transit strategy[vi] using trams for the centres of both Bristol and Bath. This is because trams have far greater capacity than buses[vii]; are not cramped, run more smoothly, can operate more frequently[viii]; produce much lower levels of particulates than rubber tyres and crucially create 14% traffic reduction whilst[ix] at the same time increasing journeys, something never achieved anywhere with buses. Trams also deliver 90% of the benefit of underground but at 10% of the cost[x]. And in fact trams in city centres are cheaper than buses[xi] overall. In short, they offer the higher quality of service the car driver expects.
It is not true that traffic has to be removed before street trams can operate – the trams themselves remove cars by converting many of the previous drivers to tram passengers , and Green Wave Traffic Light Pre-emption[xii], which is not applicable to buses, ensures they are not held up by traffic –the front page of the Bath trams website[xiii] shows street trams leading traffic queues in Brussels, unimpeded.
We are, therefore dismayed, that you still propose to spend £3bn on road schemes and £0.83bn on Metrobus but only £2.6bn on all the mass transit options. We consider your comment in the Rail Professional article[xiv] by Dr Biggs, an article arranged by our Bath Trams Press Team, that your proposed road schemes will reallocate space to public transport, misleading. It is clear that the two proposed motorway junctions and three village bypasses simply cannot allocate road space away from the car.
We believe that the WECA “mode-agnostic” studies will simply result in more Metrobus plans, which the Bristol and other UK cities’ experience has shown neither avoid pollution nor deliver rapidity of transit nor encourage car users[xv] to take it nor address the air quality problems nor do they acknowledge WECA’s acceptance of the illegal air quality in both cities and the climate emergency.
We repeat our offer to be part of the consultation team in order to develop your mass transit solutions and to support their understanding and acceptance or otherwise by the electorate of the WECA area. We would therefore like to invite you to a video conference to discuss mass transit solutions. This is vital for the future, the environment and for your legacy; so please would you get your assistant to set up a mutually convenient time? Such a meeting will help to inform our forthcoming media campaign.
Chair, Bath Trams
Short links and references
These links can be used on our web site: https://bathtrams.uk/weca-letter-links/