Archive for August 31st, 2010

£76m Leigh Guided Busway on hold over cost fears – From the Manchester Evening News

August 31, 2010

Postings in other blogs have been painting an all too rosy a picture of BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) and this post should level the playing field somewhat. Just as a note, the Cambridge “Misguided Busway” is built on a former railway formation which greatly reduced initial cost estimates and as the guided bus project now stands, it would have been cheaper to reinstate the railway instead! Imagine, a modern LRT line with lawned rights-of-ways, rather than this start concrete guide way needed for the BRT.

The yet to be used Cambridge Guided Busway

£76m Leigh Guided Busway on hold over cost fears

Alan Salter – August 31, 2010Manchester Evening News

A controversial £76m busway plan in Greater Manchester has been put on hold.

A review has been ordered into the Leigh Guided Busway project – which has been on the drawing board since 1996 – even though contracts for vital preparatory work worth £1.3m have already been awarded.

The move comes after Richard Knowles – an Oldham councillor and Salford University professor of transport geography – was sent to Cambridge to see a similar scheme.

The Cambridge busway is infamous in the transport world for spiralling costs and delays. The bill for the 25-mile busway, between Huntingdon and Cambridge, has risen from £54m to £116m and could even reach £160m by the time it opens.

Now, the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition which controls the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority has voted to review the Leigh busway – despite Labour opposition.

The project – linking Wigan, Leigh, Salford and Manchester – would see a special lane built for buses on the East Lancs Road. Four miles of the route – between Leigh and Ellenbrook – would see specially-adapted buses using ‘guided’ concrete tracks along the path of an old railway line.

Keith Whitmore, vice-chairman of the authority, said: “We are talking about a review which will take weeks rather than months. It would look at the costings and the way it operates in the light of what has happened in Cambridge.

“I visited Utrecht where they rejected the building of a second busway and decided to build a tram line instead. There is also the question of how the Leigh busway would operate – who exactly will use it has never really been tackled.

“If the review shows that everything is fine, then it can go ahead. But there has never been unanimous support for it.”

Dubbed the ‘misguided busway’ by opponents, the project has been seen in some quarters as a sop to Wigan and Leigh – which are not included in plans to expand the Metrolink.

For more on Cambridge’s ‘Misguided‘ busway:



A letter from Oslo

August 31, 2010

Oslo Tram

This has been forwarded to Rail for the Valley from the Eurotrams e-group.

Now where have you heard similar arguments?

Read Roy’s last two paragraphs, a certain resonance with the situation in the Fraser Valley & Metro Vancouver?

The infrastructure in Trondheim suffers from lack of interest from the city council. The tramway has been threatened with closure for the last half century.

After a kind of compromise back in 1984, when rolling stock was renewed and the network reduced to half the size, costs escalated – which was a cunningly calculated plan to prepare for a total closure, “reduced costs may give you twice as many buses”. But “may give” is not the same as “will give”. After the tramway closure in 1988 the level of bus services was cut back because people were no longer using public transport.

However, what the city council did not know was that there were no potential buyers to the 11 almost new 2.6 metre wide metre gauge trams. Luckily, an attempt to sell them to Cairo was not successful. Meanwhile, the bus substitution service along the still almost intact Gråkallbanen suburban tram line was not working well, so a group of enthusiasts were granted permission to borrow some of the trams and work the line. This proved to be a success, and for some years the reopened tramway was run
without subsidies.

The tracks in the city centre had been torn up only a few days after closure in 1988, a phenomenon well known from cities run by people fearing public demand to reopen. For the past twenty years a plan to extend the line through the city centre to the railway station has been promoted – and stalled – and rejected, over and over again.

The city council has over the last years unwillingly been made to take over the responsibility for the surviving tramway line, and the service is now run by private contractor Veolia. However the city council will still have to pay for maintenance and rehabilitation of the now run down infrastructure. So the city council will once again collect all the arguments they can find to close the tramway again. But of course, many people are fighting the city council on this issue.

After the light rail success in Bergen a proposal to either expand the metre gauge tramway or to build a complete new light rail system was launched. The city council ordered a feasibility study, which concluded that a bus rapid transit system would be fully adequate……and so very much less expensive than light rail (allegedly 90% less). So you have heard that one before? Of course, idiots are equally spread all over the world, we’ve got them too.

Why is public transport on rails so much better? The answer is simple, because people want quality, not cheap buses. By 1960 people in Trondheim made an average of 249 rides by public transport annually, Bergen 266 rides and Oslo 223 rides. By the year 2000 public transport rides had fallen to a 100 rides per citizen in almost tram-less Trondheim, a 105 rides in tram-less Bergen, and risen to a 315 rides in tram and metro city Oslo. Bergen has just turned the trend.

Roy Budmiger, Oslo