Friday, 15 June 2012

Bendy buses

I'm an opponent of the current Bus Rapid Transit plans but as a keen advocate of communal, public transport I'd like to see investment in BOTH the Bristol bus and rail system (in addition to walking and cycling) and in combining all of these smoothly (see story and comments here).

Light rail is just about the most energy efficient form of motorised transport and it is likely to be more successful in getting car drivers to switch modes. However, it should not be a matter of rail vs bus, though I acknowledge that there is only so much money being made available.

FOSBR are right to oppose BRT, not least because of unsuitable routes and new roads,  but I'm not so sure about all their reasoning. The case I'd make against bendy buses is that they have potential problems with: insufficient effective motive power; slower speed and acceleration due to the extra weight; overheating leading to stalling, or even a fire if diesel fuelled; in crowded areas with narrow streets and tight turns the accident rate may exceed than conventional buses. Bendy buses are supposed to be highly fuel efficient but this must be dependent on the city and the system they are running on and so in practice I have doubts that they will be more efficient in operation than double deckers here in Bristol. Mind you some parts of FOSBRs rail alternative are non-starters - a tunnel under St Mary Redcliffe is both impractical and likely to be far too costly.

There is a problem with money availability if we are to invest in both buses and rail. Yet we need to invest several times what is available for BRT if we are to make a serious dent in Bristol’s traffic and traffic-related problems. It will be interesting to see how the Mayor elected in November approaches this. There is a problem with our congested roads because we need to make the existing bus system more effective and efficient and extensive, if we are genuinely trying to meet targets such as absolute traffic reduction and significant lowering of pollution - so are we willing to make a decent number of existing roads car and lorry free?? And would a Mayor be willing to bite this bullet?

More thoughts on sustainable transport here:

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