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Posts Tagged ‘public transport

The miss the bus experience

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Lloyd Northover is a company that uses creative communications to help its clients move their organisations forward, fulfilling their dreams as well as their goals. Great, if those dreams involve having passengers miss their bus, using a massive ad hoarding to obstruct their view.

Imagine missing the bus

Written by beleben

December 30, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Malos aires

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Stationary diesel buses in central Birmingham

In January 2011, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority retired its last diesel bus.

In an urban area where diesel buses began operating in 1940, the MTA now has 2,221 buses powered by compressed natural gas, as well as one electric bus and six gasoline-electric hybrids.

Transit officials estimate that the elimination of diesel engines has reduced the release of cancer-causing particulates from the bus fleet by 80% and greenhouse gases by about 300,000 pounds a day in one of the smoggiest areas of the country.

MTA officials say that compressed natural gas buses cost more to buy and maintain than those powered by diesel but that the increased expenses are offset somewhat over the long run by lower fuel costs.

“Not only is this an important step for air quality, it sets the bar for other transportation agencies to follow,” said Joe Lyou, president of the Coalition for Clean Air, a statewide organization based in Los Angeles. “Now when an MTA bus pulls up, you don’t run away anymore from the huge cloud of exhaust.”
Though the MTA has converted its fleet, the agency still contracts with private bus lines that rely on diesel fuel. Of the 187 private buses, 82 have diesel engines, but transit officials say those should be phased out in the next several years.

In Great Britain, road public transport in the big cities is dependent on diesel powered vehicles. Many of the 2,000-plus buses in the West Midlands Urban Area spend a lot of time stationary (or moving very slowly in traffic) with engines on, and the consequence is very bad local air quality.

Eighteen diesel/battery hybrid buses are to be introduced to NXWM service in early 2012, and as part of the council’s ‘Vision for Movement‘, the most polluting buses would be effectively excluded from Birmingham city centre. But these measures in themselves are not going to make a difference overall.

Centro's car and bus comparison diagramIn its ‘Transforming Bus Travel‘ document, Centro included a diagram purporting to show that a single decker bus is ‘equivalent to 78 cars’.

The reality is that the average bus carries about 9 passengers, so emissions per passenger kilometre are not something to be especially proud of. So long as high frequency bus services (e.g., Birmingham – Kings Heath – Maypole) remain operated by diesel buses, there is going to be bad air.

What’s needed is fewer silly diagrams, and more rational thinking. There is a strong case for converting most of Birmingham’s trunk bus routes to trolleybus operation, but this would require the support and involvement of the local authority. Whether the civic leadership has the necessary perspicuity, remains to be seen.

Written by beleben

December 24, 2011 at 2:08 pm

West Midlands transport disparity

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When reading Centro’s GoHS2 article ‘Transport spend is three times higher per head in London than in the West Midlands‘ (dated 14 July 2011), it’s worth bearing in mind that

  • local public transport use, per capita, is also about three times higher in London than in the West Midlands
  • HS2 construction expenditure would be very highly concentrated in Greater London, due to the need to rebuild Euston station, and build miles of tunnels.

Here’s an extract from the GoHS2 article.

New analysis of Treasury public spending figures reveals that spending per head on transport in London is now triple the amount being spent in the West Midlands.

The figures show that spending in London has risen to £802 per head compared with just £257 in the West Midlands.

Other regions of the country are also lagging behind with the North West getting £333 per head, Yorkshire and Humberside £272 and the North East £248.

The gap has widened considerably since the previous years’ figures with spend in London rising from £634 to £802 per head compared to a modest increase from £262 to £286 in the West Midlands and North of England as a whole.

The disparity in public spending on transport between London and the regions is not matched for public spending as a whole, or for spending on education or health. It is also a relatively recent phenomenon rather than the historic norm.

Geoff Inskip, chief executive of Centro, the transport authority for the West Midlands region, said: “London needs and deserves high quality public transport. However, it’s not just London’s transport system that needs a shot in the arm.

“Our cities are economic powerhouses but a greater level of transport investment in the West Midlands and Britain’s other major urban centres is needed to help bridge the North South divide and ensure that we can boost our economic performance and reach our potential.”

The article doesn’t give a source for the claim, but it’s from the Pteg 2011 Funding Gap Report. It seems quite odd for Centro to use ‘spending disparity’ as support for HS2, because high speed rail isn’t “transport investment in the West Midlands and Britain’s other major urban centres“. HS2 is an intercity, not intracity, project, and as such, has little to do with local transport in Birmingham, London, or anywhere else.

Greater Birmingham’s poor public transport infrastructure is largely due to years of misspending by Centro on dud projects, such as Midland Metro. Although it was established in 1969, and has spent hundreds of millions of pounds, Centro didn’t even get around to posting timetables at bus stops until 2006. Annual bus patronage is about 200 million journeys lower than 1987 and all seven West Midlands boroughs are Air Quality Management Areas (afflicted by bad air).

Written by beleben

August 17, 2011 at 12:58 pm

PTEG and Centro hypocrisy on carbon

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The Passenger Transport Executive Group (‘pteg’) is an organisation which

“brings together and promotes the interests of the six Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs) in England. Leicester City Council, Nottingham City Council, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and Transport for London are associate members.”

Its main tasks are

“promoting efficiencies and the exchange of knowledge and good practice within the PTE network, and raising awareness nationally about the key transport challenges which face the city regions, and the public transport solutions which PTEs are implementing.”

On its weblog, pteg opined that

The fact remains, however, that electric cars and the like may make driving kinder to the environment but they don’t require people to make the fundamental lifestyle adjustments that are required if we are serious about tackling climate change (living more locally, for example).

PTEG - Centro hypocrisy on carbon

In that case, why is Centro – pteg’s biggest member – backing a massive increase in long distance commuting, in the form of the Birmingham to London High Speed Two rail project?
Centro HS2: 54000 daily commuters

Written by beleben

February 24, 2011 at 4:00 pm