Letter: Expensive trolleybus won’t solve congestion

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In his recent letter Mr Jack Brown makes a number of criticisms of the Green Party’s position on the proposed trolleybus.

He accuses the Greens of overstating the obtrusiveness of the overhead cables and gantries. Mr Brown mentions Rome as a city with “more important historic buildings”. He fails to mention that in Rome the trolleybuses don’t rely on overhead cables in areas with important architecture. On those roads they use onboard batteries.

It is incorrect to state that trolleybuses “have no emissions”. In our original article (which can be read in full on the Leeds Green Party website) we acknowledged that trolleybuses have no local emissions. At present, only 9.4% of British electricity comes from renewables, the rest comes from burning coal and gas.

It’s not just the Green Party who claim success for hybrid buses. Transport for London state that “hybrid buses reduce emissions of local pollutants and C02 by at least 30% compared to conventional diesel buses.” Mr Brown fails to mention emerging electric bus technology. Experimental all-electric buses will be running in Milton Keynes this summer.

On the issue of cycling Mr Brown states “there is already difficulty segregating cyclists from buses”. This ignores the big problem: we need to make our cities more cycle-friendly. But the proposed Leeds trolleybus would actually reduce provision for bikes. The current plan will remove the existing (inadequate) cycle lanes. But the planners recently admitted that they have not yet decided whether cyclists will be able to use the dedicated NGT lane. And the trolleybus lane will not exist along the whole of the route. With the existing cycle lanes removed cyclists will have to mix with motor traffic. It should also be noted that ordinary buses will lose their bus lanes and thus their journey times will be significantly longer in the rush hour.

This expensive scheme will not solve the problem of congestion in Headingley. And we are not alone in making these criticisms – the A660 Joint Council has been re-formed to allow local people to voice their legitimate concerns about a deeply flawed project.

Chris Foren, secretary, Leeds Green Party