The Hyder Report
5.1 The tramway network proposed for Bath by TfB is very different in character from other light rail systems built or proposed in the UK. It is essentially a street running tramway based on a historic model but using modern technology including low floor accessible vehicles.
5.2 The tramway network proposed for Bath by TfB would potentially meet many of the policy objectives of national and local government for transport and the environment.
5.3 The route serving Western Riverside and Newbridge Park and Ride has the greatest potential because: -
5.4 A route to Lambridge Park and Ride would also be attractive but only if a satisfactory segregated alignment could be defined. The proposed route via London Road is unlikely to be attractive because of the unavoidable effects of traffic delays.
5.5 In terms of the remainder of the network proposed by TfB, we conclude that it is most likely that a bus-based alternative will prove the most cost-effective public transport mode. It must be acknowledged, however, that further study, taking account of studies, and possibly implementation of the east-west corridor, may indicate that extension of the tram network as described in section 5.6 would be viable. TfB stress their view that a tram network is essential for the greatest value of individual routes are to be realised. It is our view that this is not proven, and poorly patronised individual routes may weaken the economies of the whole system.
5.6 The routes to Odd Down Park and Ride and Lansdown Park and Ride are unlikely to offer major benefits compared to a bus service unless it can be demonstrated that substantial segregation and priority can be given to trams which could not be provided for buses. Similar conclusions are drawn in respect of the tram routes to Twerton, Whiteway, University and Weston. However, the potential demand to the University and the Hospital at Weston may make these routes more viable.
5.7 The potential catchment areas along the routes serving Batheaston, Bathford and Bathampton are low density with high car ownership and unlikely to generate adequate levels of patronage.
5.8 Historic tram services have proved popular in a number of cities where they have been introduced. They could prove an added visitor attraction in Bath as well as providing environmentally friendly transport into and around the City Centre.
5.9 Many of the assumptions on which the capital cost estimates have been prepared are not proven. Actual costs for the total system are likely to be substantially higher. In particular, the LR55 track and the 'TRAM' vehicle are still in the early development stages and projected costs remain to be established.
5.10 The major potential benefits of a tramway or light rail system are speed and reliability compared to other competing transport modes. The extensive lengths of street running with little or no scope for segregation would make these benefits difficult to achieve with the proposed network. In particular the routes using the A4 , A36 and A367 would be subject to significant delays at many times of the day which would seriously disrupt services.
5.11 It may be feasible to create a City Centre circle which would have a high level of segregation and priority within the highway. This would require major changes to traffic management arrangements in the City Centre. However, such an approach would be consistent with the aims of reducing car dependency in the centre, and giving priority to public transport.
5.12 The assumptions made in determining the number of trams required for service and in calculating the estimated operating costs are flawed. Actual costs for the network and levels of service proposed would be significantly higher.
5.13 A number of proposed routes involve long lengths of steep gradient. In particular the University, Lansdown, Wells Road and Weston routes have gradients ranging between 8% and 12%, some extending for over 2 km. While not impossible for light rail, special engineering and operating measures would need to be taken to ensure safety.
5.14 An operating speed of 20 km/hr (12.5 mph) has been assumed by TfB for all routes. While this could be achieved on the relatively straight and level routes (e.g. Newbridge and Batheaston) it would be more difficult to achieve on the routes involving long gradients and frequent curves and junctions (e.g. Wells Road, Whiteway, University).
Summarised Response to Issues Raised In 4.1 of the Brief
A) Potential TfB Network Patronage
5.15 Patronage attracted by the network is likely to be towards the lower end of the range estimated by TfB.
B) Potential Effect on Alternative Modes of Travel
5.16 The TfB proposals would replace much of the bus network and would encourage mode shift away from car use.
C) Potential Capital Costs
5.17 The capital costs of the proposed network are likely to be significantly greater than previously predicted by TfB.
D) Potential Gross and Net Revenue Costs of the System
5.18 The gross revenue of the network is also likely to be towards the lower end of the range estimated by TfB. The net revenue of the system is dependent on the operational costs, which can only be determined once the system is more fully determined.
E) Initial Appraisal Results
5.19 In preliminary appraisal terms, the effect of the proposed network is predominantly positive, with the primary areas of concern being the financial viability of the system and the effect on road traffic.
F) Overall Conclusion on Feasibility
5.20 The TfB proposals are visionary and have considerable merit, although the network suggested is almost certainly too extensive for implementation within the foreseeable future.
5.21 From the TfB proposals and other relevant studies, it is possible to identify a network with the highest potential for public transport improvements, particularly for bus based travel (Figure 1).
5.22 It is also clear that the corridor with the highest potential for development as a high quality transit route is the Newbridge to Lambridge east to west cross-city route via Western Riverside. This should be assessed in detail and developed wherever possible on a segregated alignment (Figure 2).
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