|Uncorrected factual errors|
Trams for Bath welcomes the Hyder
Report and feels that it represents a step forward in planning
the future for effective public transport in Bath. Although erring
on the side of extreme caution, it nevertheless takes a very positive
view of the benefits a tramway would offer to this city. We appreciate
that this report was prepared on a limited budget and under great
pressure in a very short time scale. The difficulty was increased
by the need to embrace two novel concepts, neither of which had
been a major issue in any previous assessment:
1) The concept of viewing a public transport system for Bath as a network, rather than as a series of corridors.
2) The concept of lightweight lower-cost tramway vehicles, some still under development, the use of which could considerably reduce the cost of track and other works in future.
The Consultants' Brief, drawn up by B&NES asks for:
'SCOPE OF THE PROPOSED STUDY - 4.1'
"a broad assessment of the potential patronage of a city-wide tram system based on the Trams for Bath proposals...."
"a broad assessment of the potential capital costs of implementing such a city-wide system..."
"a broad assessment of the potential gross and net revenue costs of operating such a system..."
We feel that the biggest disappointment of
this report is that its conclusions fail to recognise the impact
of the two major novel features of the proposed tram network.
As a consequence, it does not meet the stated requirements of its brief.
Notwithstanding the above criticism, we would
like to see the main recommendations of the report followed-up.
Much more work is required to fully assess the potential of the proposals.
We would like to see further studies undertaken.
The report clearly identifies the unique potential
of an electric tramway for meeting B&NES sustainable transport
requirements and for maximising regeneration of the Western Riverside.
The Local Transport Plan should now contain an unequivocal statement that an Electric Tramway system is one of the modes of public transport under consideration by B&NES Council.
Criticisms of the Hyder Report
Select Committee Report
The Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Eighth Report has not been fully taken into account.
Key points include:
a) Government attitude toward Light Rail is becoming more
b) Light rail is the most attractive public transport
alternative to the car.
c) Light Rail schemes can be justified because of their
regeneration potential even when there is insufficient
d) The large 'quality gap' between tram and bus can, at
best, be only partly overcome by improving buses.
e) Long-term operating costs of tramway are much lower
than guided busway, construction costs can be lower too.
f) Benefit-to-cost ratio of tramway is substantially
higher than any other mode of public transport.
This report is available at:
Effects of a Network
The report discounted some of the proposed routes at an early stage. Lack of segregation from traffic was cited as a prime reason although several means of segregation from traffic queues in advance major junctions were included in the TfB proposals.
With these routes removed from consideration, the conclusions of the report then took no proper account of the effects which a complete network would have:
a) Reduced car dependence in areas served.
b) Increased patronage of major routes resulting from
integration with minor 'feeder' routes.
c) Regeneration and increased value of Western Riverside
with access to all of Bath, not just a corridor to P+R
d) Reduced misuse of P+R facilities by local residents.
e) Increased interchange with other public transport,
particularly heavy rail, promoted by reliable access.
Analysis of Primary Route Integration
The route which was identified as the primary route of any potential new system has been analysed without regard for the sources and ultimate destinations of passengers. The Western Riverside, two P+R sites, part of the city centre and the railway and bus stations are linked but there is no analysis of access for the majority of Bath residents nor any connection to other major employment areas.
The importance of having a first-class transport infrastructure in place at an early stage in the development of the Western Riverside, so as to promote regeneration, has not been recognised.
The substantial burden of legal costs attendant on the early stages of a tramway or guided busway scheme has not been identified in the estimates.
Advantages of Preferred Vehicle Type
The possible use of double-decked trams was discounted by the report for reasons which appear to have no relevance to Bath. Nothing substantial has been gained by altering the proposals in this way, but the particular advantages which double decked trams would offer in Bath have been lost:
a) Lower first cost
b) Lower weight
c) Reduced depôt space and cost
d) Reduced tram stop size and cost
e) Full traction on hills without extra motor costs
f) Ease of operation in narrow winding streets
g) Less obstruction in traffic.
The report omits to mention that most pre-war British tram systems used double-decked vehicles as part of their economic strategy and that the tram fleets of Hong-Kong, Alexandria and Blackpool have substantial numbers of these vehicles in public service without any significant problems. New double-decked trams are manufactured for these systems as required.
Not all modern tram designs are suitable for double-decked construction but there are a number which would adapt without undue difficulty.
No mention of integration through timing. With a sufficiently frequent service, either buses or trams can be made to integrate with rail services at an adequate level. However, the reliability and extended operating hours of a tramway give it a big advantage for encouraging increased use of public transport as a means of access to rail services
Feeder bus services using vehicles displaced from tram routes could considerably extend the catchment area, no account has been taken of this form of integration.
Many of the tram stops serve more than one route, all the city centre stops serve all routes. It is not clear whether the number of bus stops was counted in the same way as tram stops.
A segregated route west from Windsor Bridge Road would duplicate part of the Weston route and cut the tramway off from the potential patronage of the surrounding residential area. The balance between lost patronage and any possible improvement in service speed needs to be assessed in any future study.
The environmental impact of a tramway near residential properties on the Linear Park would be negligible by comparison with the impact of any other form of public transport.
The off-highway route suggested by previous studies would give a very poor diurnal loading pattern and would need duplication by on-street routes to serve residential areas. This needs to be assessed in a future study.
The novelty of the proposal for a City Centre Circle has been overtaken by events. A similar layout was independently devised by Croydon Tramlink and now forms the core of an extremely successful tram system.
The possible vehicle configurations are limited by a combination of several factors peculiar to Bath. The use of an inappropriate configuration could have major cost and operational implications. It is essential that the basic vehicle type is settled at an early planning stage if meaningful assessments are to be made of system costs.
The Pullman TRAM vehicle has completed more than a year of successful trials in Blackpool. In double-decked format it would be slightly cheaper than the articulated prototype and would appear to fully meet the requirements of the proposals.
a) Current Government thinking is turning towards opening whole networks at a time rather than piecemeal. This takes advantage of economies of scale and the benefits of an integrated network.
b) The use of combustion-engined vehicles would
increase city-centre pollution and noise, increase running costs,
limit the choice of manufacturer. For a tracked vehicle, these
power sources would offer no advantage over an electrically powered
overhead wire system which can be relatively unobtrusive (3.56).
UNCORRECTED FACTUAL ERRORS
Somerset Street - Avon Street is the proposed route. (The St. James's Parade route would only be used if the coach station were located away from the area in future).
The approach to the University via The Avenue is now the preferred route.
The preferred Pullman TPL double-decked tram has a design weight of 17 tonnes.
The Pullman TPL double-decked vehicle, on which TfB cost is based, does have all axles motored. (It is the single-decked prototype which does not)
The £1m wheel lathe would not be required unless certain non-preferred makes of vehicle were to be used. A vertical borer (costing less than £100,000 new or £15,000 second-hand) is recommended by the manufacturers of the preferred vehicle. Depôt costs can also be reduced by specifying double-decked vehicles.
The assumed operating speed of 20 km/hr was the speed averaged over all routes for calculation purposes, not the average speed of every route.
We feel that the Hyder Report places too much reliance on previous reports which were not addressing the present brief. Much information has been included without comment as to its validity or relevance to the concepts under consideration and the conclusions sometimes fail to reflect reasoned analysis from the main body of the report. We believe this may be partly the result of the of time and budget constraints under which this report was compiled.
We are confident that if the compilers had had the opportunity to exercise more fully their true level of expertise and independence of thought by considering how the light tramway concept might be developed for the future, a much more positive report would have emerged.
Secretary:Trams for Bath
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