Leeds City Council urged to reconsider trolleybus scheme

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Earlier today, a deputation from the A660 Joint Council told councillors at a full meeting of Leeds City Council that there are serious errors in the city’s Draft Site Allocations Plan relating to open space, which mean that the council should reconsider its decision to proceed with the trolleybus scheme. Here is the text of the speech that was given to the council :

Good afternoon. My name is Dawn Carey Jones. I’m secretary to the A660 Joint Council. I’m accompanied by Joint Council member Claire Randall. We’re here to make you aware that a shortage of open space along the proposed trolleybus route, means the scheme contravenes national and local planning policies, and to ask you to act on this information.

The NGT Project Board minutes reveal that the Board recognized that running NGT across Woodhouse Moor contravened both local and national guidance. The Deputy Chief Planning Officer said “it will be difficult to designate the land on Woodhouse Moor as surplus.” The Acting Chief Executive of Metro said “it is difficult to argue the case for the land being classed as surplus.” The policies that would be contravened are N1 of the UDP and Policy 74 of the National Planning Policy Framework which states that open space should not be developed unless it’s surplus to requirements, or replaced.

Despite this, at the public inquiry, Metro claimed that Hyde Park and Woodhouse has surplus open space, and can therefore spare land on Monument Moor for NGT. When it was pointed out to the Deputy Chief Planning Officer that the previous week, one of his planning officer’s reports on the St Michael’s College re-development had stated, “The ward of Hyde Park and Woodhouse records one of the highest levels of greenspace deficiency across the city,” he claimed that this was an error, and that the true position was one of surplus, as shown in the Draft Site Allocation Plan, which he waved in the air.

But just how much reliance can be placed on the Draft Site Allocations Plan? The truth is that this is a document containing many major errors.

Error 1. It designates 1.312 hectares at “Cliff Mount Fields” as ‘Parks and Gardens.” Although the area was classified as N1 in the UDP, it was used by City of Leeds School for formal sports and given to the school and fenced off when the school became an academy.

Error 2. It designates 19.799 hectares at “Woodhouse Moor Park” as “Parks and Gardens.” But the council’s Woodhouse Moor Management Plan 2004 reveals that the area is actually 19.07 hectares, 0.73 hectares less than claimed.

Error 3. It designates 0.536 hectares at “Mount Preston Street (Leeds Uni)” as “Amenity Green Space” even though this area has been entirely built on.

Error 4. It designates 1.208 hectares at “Woodsley Road (Leeds Uni)” as “Amenity Green Space” even though most of this area has been built on and just 0.12 hectares remain.

Error 5. It designates 0.854 hectares at “Willow Road – Rising Sun Public Open Space” as “Amenity Green Space” even though it’s a fenced off, locked up sports pitch. Furthermore, it double counts this site by also including it as “Outdoor Sports.”

Error 6 –It states there are three tennis courts on Woodhouse Moor when there are actually six. They occupy 0.12 hectares and not 0.223 as claimed.

Error 7 – It states that the three bowling greens on Woodhouse Moor cover 4.11 hectares when they actually cover 0.44 hectares. And since two are decommissioned, the true figure is 0.15 hectares.

Error 8 – It double counts 1.312 hectares at Cliff Mount Fields by including the area as both ‘Parks and Gardens” and “Outdoor Sports.” This area should not have been included as ‘Outdoor Sports” since the Draft Site Allocations Plan states it excludes educational outdoor sports provision.

Error 9 – It states that the area of Woodhouse Ridge inside Hyde Park and Woodhouse ward is 5.024 hectares. A glance at a map shows this to be incorrect. If it were true, the area would be bigger than Cinder Moor and Monument Moor combined, which clearly it’s not.

Error 10 – It states that dividing 5.024 hectares of Natural Greenspace by the 2011 population figure of 25,914 gives a provision of 1.93 hectares per 1,000 population., when it actually gives a provision of 0.193 hectares per 1,000, much less than the required minimum of 0.7.

When all the errors are corrected, and up to date population estimates used, Hyde Park and Woodhouse is shown to have deficits in all categories of open space. This means no part of Woodhouse Moor can be spared for the trolleybus. There are serious implications too for the housing target for the ward. Please can the above Draft Site Allocations Plan errors be corrected, and the document checked for other similar errors. Similar errors do exist.

On the false understanding that Hyde Park and Woodhouse has surplus open space, the council appropriated three sections of Woodhouse Moor for the trolleybus scheme. Now that you’re aware that the ward had a deficit in open space, please reverse this decision, and please also reconsider your decisions of the 1st July and 13th November 2013 to support an application for a Transport and Works Act Order to enable the trolleybus project to proceed.

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National Transit Database: Trolleybus Accident Statistics

Since 2008, the National Transit Database of the Federal Transit Administration has included extremely detailed urban passenger transport accident statistics.1

The table below has been produced using data extracted from the National Transit Database: Safety and Security Time Series Data. 2

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National Transit Database: Safety & Security Time Series Data

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YEAR

VEHICLE MILES
TRAVELLED
CYCLISTS
INJURED
PEDESTRIANS
INJURED
Motor BusTrolleybus Motor BusTrolleybus Motor BusTrolleybus
20081,956,308,85511,237,8669322373
20091,969,250,05812,695,6168512676
20101,917,075,37111,675,4359712833
20111,886,876,88811,188,43912302335
20121,891,921,94011,314,7809922656
20131,891,921,940e11,314,780e101218110
Total11,513,355,05269,426,91659881,46633
%99.400.6098.681.3297.802.20
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The table shows that whereas on average between 2008 and 2013, trolleybuses travelled 0.60% of the urban vehicle miles travelled by all buses, they accounted for 1.32% of the injuries to cyclists, and 2.20% of the injuries to pedestrians.

This means that a trolleybus is twice as likely as a motor bus to injure a cyclist, and three and a half times as likely as a motor bus to injure a pedestrian.

The following graph illustrates the much higher trolleybus injury rate.

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Of the 571 trolleybuses currently operating in the United States (APTA 2012),3 just 119 or 20% are articulated vehicles, which suggests that some factor other than the length of the vehicle is responsible for the significantly higher injury rate of trolleybuses. A possible explanation for the higher injury rate is supplied by Barry J Simpson in Urban Public Transport Today (1994)4

“They are also much quieter than buses, which may be a blessing environmentally but can be a hazard to pedestrians, especially the blind, cyclists and others who may detect a bus coming from behind by sound rather than sight, hence their unfortunate nickname, ‘whispering death’.”

As well as being known as ‘Whispering Death’ in Australia, trolleybuses were known as ‘Silent Death’ and ‘Granny Killers’ in the UK.

References


Transport and Works Act Order

An application was submitted today to the Department for Transport for a Transport and Works Act Order for the NGT Trolleybus Scheme.

The documents submitted are available to view online at:

http://www.ngtmetro.com/TWAO_Documents/

We have 42 days until the 31st October to make our individual objections.

The Secretary of State for Transport will decide whether or not to hold a public inquiry based both on the quality and quantity of our objections.

Objections can be sent either by post or by email. If you send an email, please remember to add your postal address.

The address to send written objections to is:

Secretary of State for Transport
c/o Transport and Works Act Orders Unit
General Counsel’s Office
Department for Transport
Zone 1/18, Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
London SW1P 4DR

The address to send email objections to is: transportandworksact@dft.gsi.gov.uk

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Read More


Planning Applications

Leeds City Council has submitted 37 planning applications to support the Transport and Works Act Order to be submitted on the 19th September.

These will be decided separately from the TWAO application, by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, although they will be considered at the same public inquiry.

So far there are 34 of these applications by Metro relating to NGT!  (Please see the links below)

Please send letters or emails of objection about these planning applications to:

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
c/o National Planning Casework Unit
5 St Philips Place
Colmore Row
Birmingham
B3 2PW

npcu@communities.gov.uk

Please remember to include your postal address if you send your objection by email.

To read more and view the applications


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Deputation to Leeds City Council

Pictured from left to right : Tony Green, Paula Liptrot, Ian Liptrot, Doug Kemp and Martyn Thomas

Pictured from left to right : Tony Green, Paula Liptrot, Ian Liptrot, Doug Kemp and Martyn Thomas

A660 Joint Council chairman Doug Kemp led a deputation to Leeds Civic Hall on Wednesday afternoon to ask the gathered councillors to scrap the trolleybus scheme. After he finished an excellent speech, he was given an enthusiastic and long round of applause from supporters in the packed public gallery, many of whom had given up their lunch hours to attend.

My Lord Mayor and fellow councillors. My name is Doug Kemp from West Park. My colleagues are Martyn Thomas from Weetwood, Tony Green from North Hyde Park, Paula and Ian Liptrot from Belle Isle.

This deputation is speaking on behalf of the A660 Joint Council, which draws it membership from over 12 organisations representing residents, businesses groups, and individuals from South and North Leeds all of whom share a common interest and grave misgivings over the proposed NGT trolley bus scheme.

Fundamentally, the Council is being drawn into spending money on a transport scheme which is conceptually flawed. The trolley bus is the wrong transport medium on the wrong route. Sadly NGT owes most of its concept and planning to the original 1992 SuperTram scheme. However in the Last 20 years much has changed: changes in thinking about environmental and transport strategies; in transport technology; not to mention the development needs and plans of Leeds itself.

Indeed NGT does not address planned regeneration schemes in the South and East of the city, nor does it address inner city traffic movements. In essence the scheme is not fit for purpose.

Leeds has been starved of government funding for its transport infrastructure, and yes it would benefit from a modern transport network, but it has to be one which is both appropriate and sensitive to the needs of the city, both now and in the future. Spending money on the wrong system is wrong.

For instance, why does NGT focus on the A660, Yes, it is congested, BUT.

  1. It is the least important route in terms of traffic in and out of the city. Compared with other radial routes it carries only about 30% of the traffic, which they on average carry.
  2. It already has the highest bus frequency and the highest usage of bus services
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Whilst for South Leeds NGT plans to take the trolley bus route through a pedestrian precinct, the grounds of a primary school and across Belle Isle Circus.

Does this sound like a scheme likely to attract over-whelming public support? No wonder increasing numbers of residents across the whole of Leeds think that NGT is madness.

So what does NGT offer:

  1. A “quality transport experience” whereby the majority of passengers have to stand
  2. Luxury stops to enjoy while waiting for a less frequent service than currently available, having walked further because of fewer trolley bus stops – not good for the elderly or disabled.
  3. The decimation of existing bus services, with the prospect of the total loss of some outer bus services.
  4. Changes to the road architecture which disadvantage cyclists and pedestrians.
  5. The same or worse congestion, with traffic hold-ups leaving pollution levels unaffected.
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NGT does not even transfer significant car users onto the trolley bus (only 15%), it merely moves bus users onto another type of bus

Are you as councillors certain this is the right system? Just look at the guided bus systems on the Scott Hall and York roads – Ugly, outdated and less and less used.

There is a real dangers that Leeds in 2020 could be saddled with an inflexible overhead cable-based single transport line, installed at great expense, and incredibly expensive to extend into any meaningful network.

It does not have to be a trolley bus system – there are other options, options which are better, cheaper, more effective and future-proof.

NGT is a system that the people of Leeds do not want. They see it being based on obsolete technology, a transport system which will be out-of-date before it begins to operate.

The Leeds Vision talks of “spending money wisely”so remember that In addition to the £173.5million of government funding, the remainder of at least £76.5 million has to come from local authority sources.

These are significant amounts of money, does it make sense to blindly charge forward without taking stock of the fundamental issues.

Does NGT really offer the city of Leeds value for money? I suggest it does not.

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Public Meeting

The meeting will take place in the Civic Hall, Rooms 6/7, from 10.00am – 12.00pm, Saturday May 11th. It will be chaired by the Rev. Joanna Pearson, Associate Rector, St George’s, and Priest in Charge, St Augustine’s Wrangthorn. After a brief introduction from Cllrs James & Richard Lewis, there will be a Q & A session for members of the public to ask anything they like. There will be no officers present, unless they so wish as private citizens.

Civic Hall poster


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Report of the North West (Outer) Area Committee (NOWAC), March 26 2013

12 councillors vote 11:1 criticising NGT

This committee consists of 12 Leeds City councillors representing the wards of Otley and Yeadon, Horsforth, Adel and Wharfedale, Guiseley and Rawdon. It includes Ryk Downes, an Otley and Yeadon councillor. He is a former chairman of Metro and Liberal Democrats leader on the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority. The Committee agreed to hold a debate on NGT on the above date. Members of Metro were there to answer questions and matters arisng from the discussion from questions.

Members of the public were invited to give representations. Residents from Holt Park stated they were against the NGT trolleybus. John Dickinson of Weetwood Residents Association gave a very good presentation. In addition a laminated sheet was given out to each of the sitting members as is shown below.

  1. The impact of “traffic stacking” on the X84 times. How much will the journey time be extended?
  2. Is the NGT scheme being subsidised by cutbacks of subsidies of the early/late bus services in communities of NWOAC?
  3. How will the £19.2 million from LCC + overrun costs impact on service cuts and council tax in the communities covered by NWOAC?
  4. The Park and Ride – Will electors use it after driving their cars there and then get on a trolley bus for 21 minutes in the rush hour? Will there be charges on the car park? What would be the aesthetic & environmental impact of an 800-space car park on Bodington fields?
  5. Why can’t hopper buses and better park and ride facilities be improved for Horsforth, Guiseley, and Menston (Otley) rail stations?
  6. When will the plans be released in an accessible form for the public to see, so an informed opinion can be made? Why is the consultation period after their release only 42 days?
  7. How do the councillors feel about the proposed 50% reduction in the number 1 and 6 bus services?
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The response of the councillors was very interesting. They were sceptical and challenged the Metro report in many details with tenacity. They even challenged the business case, costs, consultation effectiveness, loss of bus service etc, predicted journey time and environmental impact.

Dave Haskins, NGT Project Director with another member of NGT tried to answer each point raised in detail. I was impressed by the questioning of Dave Haskins replies. The group of councillors was well-informed. The councillors were even more critical and eventually passed the motion (the wording might be different a little):

“This Committee remains to be convinced that the NGT scheme represents any substantive improvement on present transport arrangements in Leeds”

The vote was 11 for and 1 against. The councillors requested that this decision and the minutes be readied for the full council meeting in April and called the NGT team to return in September with clear answers to their questions.

Two important points from Dave Haskins (who was calm & professional throughout)

  1. He stated categorically that the NGT team had never labeled the scheme rapid transport and said it averaged 12mph.
  2. The consultation period with a web-based view of the layout will open in May through to September (perhaps longer)

Trevor Bavage