Letter: Leeds needs rapid transit

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I CONCUR with the sentiments of James Bovington and Bob Jones (Your views, June 5) regarding the lack of a metro/rapid transit light rail system in Leeds and the reductive effect of this on the reputation and status of a city this size.

As Mr Bovinton says, modern trolleybuses of the sort proposed for Leeds can have their place – secondary – in a large city’s transport network but for them to be touted on the Headingley route as congestion-busting is risible.

Granted, owing to their projected design, use of pre-ticketing and the permanent visible infrastructure of overhead wires (not to my mind unsightly) they will be slightly more prominent, attractive and quick – but that’s all. It’s only one line, for heaven’s sake, and it won’t now be projected to operate until 2020! That is 15 years after the infinitely more superior Supertram was axed by that New Labour anti-public transport secretary – Alistair Darling.

Why on earth, incidentally, does it take so long for a project that is only an electric bus route with wires to be implemented?

The population of Leeds is fast approaching 800,000 – comparable to Lyon, France, yet a huge segment of well over a third of the city comprising a good part of the north-west and the entire north-east alone – also containing some of the most densely populated districts – has no access at all to any rail transport, let alone rapid transit.

The congestion-hampered bus is the non-car users only recourse.

It is worth noting that Nottingham, a city quite smaller than Leeds, opened a two-branch Supertram line eight years ago, since, proving so successful and popular that two new ambitious, lengthy extensions to the suburbs are being constructed. How is it that they can do it but we cannot?

So Messrs Bovington and Jones are right – Leeds needs leadership with chutzpah and audacity (as is also apparently the case in Metrolink Manchester) who can deliver something better than just a trolleybus route after 15 years – or should it be 45 years, in the long term.

Dan Laythorpe, Kendal Bank, Little Woodhouse, Leeds 3