Case for £250m trolleybus in Leeds is ‘weak & flawed’ says university transport expert

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A FORMER professor of transport planning at the University of Leeds has told a public inquiry the business case for a proposed £250m trolleybus scheme in the city is “weak, flawed and misleading.”

Peter Bonsall, who has 40 years experience in transport planning and analysis, also said the benefits of the New Generation Transport (NGT) Project have been “grossly exaggerated.”

Mr Bonsall gave evidence today at the long-running inquiry, which stated in April and is due to end on October 30.

Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority are spearheading the scheme to get trolleybuses powered by overhead wires running between Holt Park in the north of the city and Stourton in the south.

Trolleybus supporters say it would ease traffic congestion and create up to 4,000 new jobs.

Mr Bonsall said that based on Leeds Transport Model forecasts, the scheme would result in increased congestion, noise, emissions and the number of people killed or seriously injured in road traffic accidents.

He also said the usage of and revenue from NGT services had been “seriously over-estimated.”

Mr Bonsall said: “Overall, I can only conclude the business case for NGT is weak, flawed and misleading and that the supposed benefits have been greatly exaggerated.

“The corridor does not have the space to accommodate a new, separate and distinct mode of public transport which is prioritised over all other models but, in attempting to do so, the scheme causes significant damage to the existing public transport offer as well as to the area’s ambience and community assets.”

He added: “The decision to introduce a trolleybus scheme was ill-considered and precipitous in the wake of the refusal of funding for Supertram.

“I believe decision makers were blinded by the prospect of DfT (Department for Transport) funding for something similar to Supertram and of being able to adapt much of the modelling and design work which had been conducted for that scheme.”