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.
- 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.
- It already has the highest bus frequency and the highest usage of bus services
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:
- A “quality transport experience” whereby the majority of passengers have to stand
- 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.
- The decimation of existing bus services, with the prospect of the total loss of some outer bus services.
- Changes to the road architecture which disadvantage cyclists and pedestrians.
- The same or worse congestion, with traffic hold-ups leaving pollution levels unaffected.
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.