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Posts Tagged ‘transit

Bikes and metropolitan public transport

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Although local authorities in Britain purport to encourage travel by bicycle, cyclists and would-be cyclists continue to be marginalised in town planning and transport policy. In Birmingham, the level of municipal antipathy was such that it took three years to install a single ‘Cyclists crossing’ road sign. (Earlier this month, control of the council changed hands.)

Bicycle-enabled public transport can offer advantages to travellers (including motorists) and wider society, so it’s disappointing that aspiration, policy, and action are so badly attuned. In the West Midlands, millions of pounds have been spent on park and ride by transport authority Centro, but almost nothing on bicycle-enabled transit.

Front-mounted bike rack on public transit bus in USA - pic by Buchanan-Hermit, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-2.0Outside of London, Britain’s local public transport is dominated by buses, on which the facility to transport bikes is effectively non-existent. Some cities in the United States allow pushbikes to be transported on local buses, generally by means of a rack mounted externally on the vehicle front. For various reasons, this arrangement is not well suited to the British environment. However, enablement of combined bicycle-and-public-transport journeys should be a priority in urban planning. For city neighbourhoods not served by rail transit, consideration should be given to using large capacity buses, similar to TfL’s New Bus for London, to allow 1 – 2 bikes to be taken onboard.

Objections to carrying bikes on transit are usually about capacity or safety. Even nominally ‘high capacity’ rail transit systems can have total or near-total prohibition of cycle carriage. Sometimes, folding bikes are allowed, but these are less affordable for many people.

On Manchester’s Metrolink tramway, concern about bikes becoming projectiles in an accident led to transport authority GMITA (now TfGM) turning down requests for onboard cycle carriage. And in the West Midlands, Centro has stated that new supposedly ‘high capacity’ CAF trams will not be carrying bikes.

Conversion of railway to tramway has actually reduced green transport options, as can be seen with Metrolink in Oldham. In future British urban rail systems, the facility to carry accompanied bicycles should be designed-in (as with wheelchairs and pushchairs).

Many prospective mixed journeys only require bicycle use at one end, and for these, cycle stowage at the transit boarding point should be ideal. However, where bicycle parking has been provided, it has tended not to be very good. The ‘facility’ at Stechford railway station is an example. It consists of two Sheffield stands, in the open air, at the foot of a flight of steps, insecurely si(gh)ted, with no closed circuit tv coverage. Why public authorities choose to have infrastructure designed by non-cycling non-public-transport users, is unfathomable.

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May 29, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Trolleybuses in West Yorkshire

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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).
Vehicles:
• 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

Centro station staffing muddle

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Councillors from the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority have written to local train operator London Midland about proposed cuts in staffing at some stations. The changes would leave more stations without a staff presence, at more times. On 2 March 2011, the Birmingham Mail reported

Bosses at London Midland plan to shut five ticket offices in the city and three more elsewhere in the West Midlands.

In Birmingham, booths at Witton, Small Heath, Jewellery Quarter, Adderley Park and Duddeston stations are set to be axed for good.

Others threatened in the region include Wythall, Lye and the Bescot Stadium.

Centro stated that it

“is urging rail passengers to oppose London Midland proposals to slash the numbers of staff at stations across the region.”

and announced that its chairman, Councillor Angus Adams, vice chairman Councillor Jon Hunt, and Opposition Group Leader Councillor John McNicholas had a written a joint letter to transport minister Theresa Villiers, saying

“the proposals would be totally unacceptable to passengers.

[…]

Councillor Adams said: ‘Their rationale for deciding changes fails to take into account the wider benefits of staff presence at stations, including the critically important role in reassuring passengers.

“We have made it clear to London Midland that were we a co-signatory to the franchise agreement the Integrated Transport Authority would not approve these changes.'”

The press release didn’t link to London Midland’s announcement on changes and consultation – which stated

“We understand that staffed stations can make people feel safer, but our ticket office staff are not best placed to combat crime. Many of our stations have CCTV and we will have help points in place at all stations, directly linked to someone who can provide reassurance or contact the emergency services. We will continue to work closely with the British Trasport Police (BTP) and monitor any changes in crime or anti-social behaviour following any changes.”(sic)

The Midland Metro tramway has no staff at any stop, but several stops have known security issues, for example, Lodge Road, Soho (Benson Road), and Winson Green (Outer Circle). Why there is a disparity in Centro’s attitude towards tram stop staffing, and railway station staffing, is unclear. Equally unclear is how the presence of a staff member would help, when many stations have longstanding design, equipment, and layout issues which prevent him or her even being able to surveil from the ticket office.

Spring Road railway station ticket officeSpring Road station, showing ‘portacabin’ ticket office which affords the stationmaster no view of the station platforms (there is no closed circuit television coverage)

Written by beleben

March 11, 2011 at 8:12 pm