Monday, 16 June 2014

Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 24

Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 24

June 13  2014

On Friday 13th June we saw three full sessions of cross examination by Gregory Jones QC of Mr Paul Hanson on the subject of his modelling of traffic and demand for the proposed NGT Trolleybus scheme.

Links for the audio recordings of all sessions available online can be found at the links included here and I give some commentary following below.

In the first morning session of day 24 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, June 13 2014, Gregory Jones QC commences his cross examination of Mr Paul Henson who is responsible for the traffic modelling used by NGT in their business case and application for a Transport and Works Act Order.
In the late morning session of day 24 of the Enquiry, June 13 2014, Gregory Jones QC continues the cross examination of Mr Paul Hanson who is responsible for the traffic and passenger demand modelling of the NGT trolleybus proposals.

In the final session of day 24 of the Enquiry, June 13 2014, Gregory Jones continues to examine Mr Paul Hanson with regard to his modelling of the traffic and demand for the NGT scheme.

It is important not to view each examination in isolation since importantly on a day such as this Mr Jones develops several points which were established by Professor Bonsall on the previous days.

The issue of proportionality was one which came up early.  What this means is the importance given to development of models in detail compared to the cost.  The Professor had already established that a great deal more could have been done to develop the models, and that this would not have cost a massive amount.  Mr Jones examined the issue of the proportionality of this to the potential loss which would be incurred if as he so nicely put the scheme went ‘down the plughole’ in the manner of the Supertram of a decade past and established that this would be in the region of 10% of the total cost of the scheme, which in this case would be some £25 million.  So he asked whether with the risk of expenditure of this kind of sum of money, would it be proportional to spend this little extra to find out if it might be viable or not?

He then went on to examine the assumptions on which the modelling was based, which involved a presumed response from the bus company.  There was some reminding of the fact that Mr Henkel had introduced these assumptions, since Mr Chadwick for the business case (who will be on in the coming week) does not explain where his assumptions originate from.  Mr Henkel had signally failed to consult with the bus company and this was some issue in the earlier weeks.

Having established that the assumptions on which the model rested had come from a source of dubious provenance, he then worked on the question of the adherence to the WebTAG guidance, an issue which again had been raised by Professor Bonsall in some detail.  The point of this development seemed to be that not only had he not followed the guidance throughout in all cases but that he had stated explicitly that he had done so in his summary.  Nowhere did he explain where he departed from WebTAG when he did so.  The questioning went on very hard on this but Mr Hanson was resistant, saying it was only a matter of semantics.  Mr Jones suggested that it was a lot more than mere semantics, but rather a serious flaw in his evidence that was misleading in that he didn’t acknowledge where he departed from the guidance.  Mr Hanson seemed to be quite evasive on this even though his credibility as a witness was explicitly being called into question.

Long silences ensued as Mr Jones put this to him again and again.  Although Mr Hanson admitted that it ‘would be a serious flaw’ he didn’t appear to admit that he had actually done it, claiming that it was clear to the reasonable reader what he had done, although no express acknowledgement was made.

It would appear to a layperson such as myself that a huge mass of shortcomings have been exposed in this argument which evolved throughout the day.  I thought I might use a short piece sent to me by one of the attending objectors who managed to collate a number of points raised over the course of the two and a half days when the chief examiners on this crucial topic took place. 

Over to Christopher Todd.


  Just a few reactions to part of the brilliant cross-examining of Paul Hanson by Peter Bonsall and Geoffrey Jones (leaving aside the many errors they pointed to in the figures)
  • It is now clear that the business case needs to have at least 160 people on a single-articulated trolleybus. This implies more standing and crowding than currently found in Switzerland , and of course, goes against what Aecom itself repeats in G4-13 p.18 (“Seat availability has the highest value in every study”). And if the park-and-ride were successful, the trolleybus would fill up at Bodington, and then how would anybody else get on further down the route? Clearly also the temptation to try and get on at Holt Park would also become all the stronger (there is no allowance for capacity or growth, and clearly the proposed system would be working near the limit of feasibility). I presume Neil Chadwick will be quizzed over seating capacity and space.
  • No clear view of walking and cycling as those are not covered by the Leeds Transport Model! How do you plan for cycle lanes? This is particularly important in the context of the A660.
  • Still using a lot of data from 2008, with the argument that it was within the 6-year limit when he devised his model (this is no longer the case, and this is particularly unfortunate as far as the A660 is concerned, since there have been major changes here since 2008) In addition, in 2008 the effects of the economic downturn only started to be felt at the very end of the year. Neil Chadwick will need to be grilled on this (especially as Aecom seems to have taken what SDG says as Gospel truth)
  • How can he presume no changes to ticketing?
  • Another question: will the stacking on Woodhouse Moor cause problems in Headingley Lane ?
  • His very scanty knowledge of side roads reflects his obsessive over-simplified view of the A660 as a ‘corridor’ (no allowance for effects on buses such as the no.38 (which crosses the corridor from Shaw Lane to North Lane ). I fail to see how the scheme will discourage the Moor Road , Monkbridge Road , etc., rat run.
  • The lack of modelling for transversal flows is a very basic omission, which almost completely undermines his case. Is John Griffiths going to intervene here?
  • Another question: has he allowed for the suppression of the pocket lanes?
  • Note: no mention of the school run (a lot of which contains transversal traffic)
  • In what way can rail park-and-ride (as at Guiseley and New Pudsey) – with one train stop before the centre of town – , be used to shore up arguments for the trolleybus schemes at Bodington and Stourton (to me this seems a dishonest comparison).
  • Says that 50% of those using the Bodington park-and-ride will come off the ring road. Is Bodington well-placed? The lack of success of the King Lane park-and-ride is largely due to the fact that it is not on the A61.
  • Discusses town-centre parking, but not a word about the unofficial park-and-ride which clogs up many streets along the route. Why should people use Bodington, when they can either take a cheaper ride from nearer the centre of town or simply walk there?
  • Says the basis of his case is anticipated growth in population and economic activity. One of the major faults of NGT’s Statement of Case is that it tends to look at these factors globally, not allowing for detailed differences, such as what is going to happen in different parts of the city. Unless more detail is given, such talk is meaningless. He admits anyway that his model is not suitable for judging the effects on the economy.
  • Interesting : the sleight of hand by which the lack of a study of the effects of overcrowding of buses is used by omission to imply that the trolleybus is just as flexible in meeting peaks of demand.
  • On Friday the quote of the morning was Mr Hanson’s admission that there was “'Something peculiar about the original objectives of the model”.
  • The fact that he sees Headingley Hill as a more important place for an NGT stop rather than, say, the Arndale Centre would suggest a divorce from reality (the whole thing becomes just too abstract)
  • Talks about the highest linear usage being between the university  and the station. Do you need a trolleybus for this?  Many people walk (at least as far as the centre of town)

Perhaps I am just a naïve and suspicious layperson who doesn’t really understand the way these things have to work, but as there seem to have been serious questions raised about many of the assumptions for many aspects of this scheme, I am really looking forward to the cross examination of Mr Chadwick by Mr Jones this coming week on the business.  When so many shortcomings are apparent one must begin at least to question the competence of the initiators.  I should probably not say more at this stage, but I would urge readers who want to understand what is going on to spend an hour or two actually following the arguments on the Mixcloud player.  I have found that listening back to a session again by Mr Jones I get deeper into the understanding than I did the first time around as there is such depth and development that to grasp it all first time is quite a feat.  These are really important matters and people need to understand the detail and depth.  Get listening folks!

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