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This Discussion Document is published by the LRTA Development Forum to stimulate discussion and does not necessarily represent the views of the LRTA

THE KERB GUIDED BUS - HOW REAL ARE ITS ADVANTAGES?
Comments and Responses

COMMENT : The paper was not as stated, a balanced view of the Pros and Cons; it was really a sustained rubbishing of the guided bus concept.

ANSWER : Included in the title of DD No 001 was : HOW REAL ARE ITS ADVANTAGES ?. Being a discussion document it was looking at some of the claims made by the bus operators themselves and questioning their accuracy. Evidence was presented in the document to demonstrate that many of their claims were somewhat exaggerated. The source of all examples given in the paper were included in the REFERENCES.

EXAMPLE LOCAL TRANSPORT TODAY (14th June 2001) reported the claim that Leeds guided busway is now carrying 75% more passengers than when it opened in 1995, according to transport operator FIRST GROUP. This compares rather oddly with the figure of 6% given by the TRANSPORT RESEARCH LABORATORY, reported in LOCAL TRANSPORT TODAY - 2nd December 1999. The 75% increase did imply that it was due to the guided bus but various press reports have suggested that the patronage increases have been mainly due to such things as lifestyle changes such as moving house, reorganising bus routes and taking over some services from private operators. It should be pointed out though that the discussion document only published what was in the public domain.

COMMENT : Guided bus routes in Leeds were not intended as an alternative tramway.

ANSWER : At no point has any DD or Fast Sheet found fault with patronage levels for the justification for a tramway along Scott Hall Road. This though would not apply to the later guided bus corridor along York Road which, during tram days, was very busy with a group of tram routes. About 15 years ago WYPTA investigated a possibility of reinstating a tram service along York Road. Mainly because of NIMBYism the move failed.

Whether or not the decision to permanently drop the tramway proposals along York Road was a direct result of the two major bus operators along that corridor contributing relatively large sums of money towards the project is open to conjecture but, relying on the British concept of bus operation, the project should be a success as a busway. People who are more familiar though with modern tramway practice in Europe will no doubt concur that the extra benefits for passengers from tramway operation would more than outweigh the additional costs in providing it.

COMMENT : WHAT GAIN FOR PASSENGERS ? Catching a guided bus presents passengers with problems in deciding which one to catch. This is in fact a criticism not of guided buses, but of buses in general.

ANSWER : This reader's comment is not strictly correct because those buses not equipped with that small horizontal wheel simply cannot use the guideway. This problem was highlighted in Birmingham nearly 20 years ago when it was realised that ordinary buses could compete against guided bus following deregulation.

COMMENT : BUS - TRAM, THE DIFFERENCE IS QUITE STARK. 4 or 8 times as many vehicles to carry the same load as a fully-loaded tram. If the demand is not there you might get by with 3,2,or even 1 buses.

ANSWER : Many bus corridors, have a multitude of bus routes that provide a common service over most of that corridor. This combined bus load can often equate to commercial justification for a tram service because it can be made up of 7 or 8 bus routes. Bus operators often stress the disadvantage of changing to a Continental style feeder bus connection but conveniently overlook the overwhelming advantages of a tram service.

COMMENT : Unless trams have conductors they suffer revenue collection problems.

ANSWER : Although conductors do help to speed up passenger loadings, their very presence gives passengers a more comfortable feeling of security. A recent report suggested that Liverpool's citizens were supportive of a decision to put conductors on that city's proposed tram system.

COMMENT : Castleford as mentioned in the paper would never justify a tramway.

ANSWER : Two bus routes provide a very frequent service between Castleford and Leeds via a very short length of guideway into Leeds via either York or Selby Roads. Although the journey time is about one hour, the time on the guideway would normally be less than one minute. The bus operator exploited this by specifically naming the service as "ELITE". It would be doubtful if any time saving could actually be measured.

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Discussion Document 001 C&R: top of page

Response by F A Andrews 17th June 2003