die belebende Bedenkung

Trolleybuses in West Yorkshire

with 2 comments

When government funding for a Supertram light rail network in Leeds was rejected for a second time in 2005, the city council decided to pursue a trolleybus system – ‘New Generation Transport‘ (NGT) – instead.

The West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive‘s September 2011 NGT Best and Final Funding Bid gave the following details.

• 14.3km network serving North and South Leeds;
• South route (4.5km): city centre to Stourton Park & Ride;
• North Route (9.1km): city centre to Bodington Park & Ride and on to Holt Park; and
• North-South city centre link (0.7km).
• Operated by electrically powered trolleybuses operating at a six minute headway during core hours of operation.

• Approximately 56% segregation from general traffic;
• 6.1km of which is new NGT-only route where NGT is 100% segregated; and
• Priority and traffic management measures planned where NGT is mixed with general traffic to ensure adequate levels of reliability

Unfortunately, NGT has the same ‘gold plating’ issues that have afflicted other British transport schemes. However one looks at it, 14 kilometres of trolleybus route is not worth £250 million.

The NGT scheme would leave the vast majority of services operated by diesel buses. To provide environmental benefits, the trolleybus system should have been designed to maximise on-wire coverage of main routes in the city. So NGT is the nearest British equivalent of Nancy‘s tramway sur pneus.

Written by beleben

December 5, 2011 at 6:00 pm

2 Responses

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  1. 22 years ago I visited Seattle, and used the bi-mode buses that seamlessly transferred from diesel to electric and back to use the trolley wires that ran through the city centre, and then fan-out to serve outer suburbs. The intensive use of the wired infrastructure in the city, by both regular trolleybuses (on inner local routes) and the bi-mode buses on outer services provides a suitably intensive use of the infrastructure.

    The other detail that still seems to miss the mindset of many planning bus based systems is that most are not capable of running as BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) as they use single entrance conventional buses and do not provide a reserved track for the service. Look at Street Films videos for BRT in Curitiba and Bogota respectively, and watch how these vehicles run like trams, and travel at around 3 times the typical speed for bus services, carry metro-scale numbers (35,000 passengers/hour) with metro-style headways. The tramway sur pneus comes at a lower cost, and faster delivery than the full blown tram, but has to be delivered with the pseudo trams at tram-like frequencies. The aspirations seem a bit tame with a 6-minute headway.

    Dave H

    December 5, 2011 at 11:23 pm

  2. I think the important point here is that Leeds didn’t want trolleybuses- they wanted trams. Leeds had a long history of operating trams and was one of the last cities in the UK to operate them. Leeds had begun operating trolleybuses in 1911, but they had all gone by 1928. For Leeds the use of trolleybuses is a second class option, but their thinking is still tramway based.

    Unlike the neighbouring city of Bradford, some 9 miles to the west of Leeds. Bradford was the last operator of trolleybuses in the UK and it is arguable that Bradford might have continued to operate them had the energy crisis arrived a year or two earlier. Bradford has been promised a return of trolleybuses on and off since the late 1970s by the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, the organisation responsible for the NGT trolleybus scheme in Leeds. Back in the late seventies, the plan had been to operate conventional trolleybuses on a small number of heavily trafficed routes but the understanding seemed to be that if they proved successful, other routes would follow.

    I will be happy to see trolleybuses on the streets of Leeds, but I would be far happier to see their return in Bradford, a very hilly city where they are ideally suited.

    kevin morris

    December 6, 2011 at 1:11 pm

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