Metro wants to spend £250 million to provide 20 trolleybuses on a single route. The same sum would buy 1,000 hybrid buses that could be used right across Leeds.
Not only are trolleybuses poor value for money, they’re also uneconomic to run. This is why a monopoly will be given to the company chosen to operate them. And because they draw electricity from overhead power lines, they can’t be used on any other routes. It’s because trolleybuses are so inflexible and uneconomic, that they were scrapped in the UK decades ago.
But there’s a big difference between the trolleybuses that were scrapped and the new ones that Metro wants to buy. The trolleybuses that were scrapped were double-deckers, ideally suited to the narrow streets of British towns. The ones that Metro wants to buy are single-decker bendybuses, which would add to congestion because of all the space they take up.
Metro claims its trolleybuses will create 4,000 jobs. If that was true, you’d expect trams to create even more. But according to the National Audit Office, Sheffield’s Supertram created just 1,600 jobs, even though it covers twice the distance that the trolleybus would cover.
Interviewed by BBC Look North in January, NGT’s project director Dave Haskins admitted that NGT might increase congestion.
Then, at a recent Leeds City Council area committee meeting, Mr Haskins accepted that at an average speed of 12mph, NGT is not rapid transit. Given these admissions, why has Leeds City Council agreed to give a further £19.2 million to the scheme instead of scrapping it?
Bob Jones, City Island, LS12