Monday, 29 September 2014

Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 52

Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry

Day 52

Friday 26th September 2014 

Audio recordings of today's sessions are linked here, and below I am pleased to present a document I have been given permission to publish.

In the first morning session of Day 52 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Friday 26th September 2014, Neil Cameron QC continues his cross examination of Mr David Alexander, Regional Managing Director for First Bus on behalf of the Applicant for the TWO, NGT.

In the late morning session of Day 52 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Friday 26th September 2014, Neil Cameron QC concludes his cross examination of Mr David Alexander, Regional Managing Director for First Bus on behalf of the Applicant for the TWO, NGT.  The Inspector then has some questions of his own.

In the afternoon session of Day 52 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Friday 26th September 2014, Gregory Jones QC re-examines Mr David Alexander, Regional Managing Director for First Bus.


The following document has come into my view and I have been given permission to quote in full here on my blog.  It is a formal reply put to Leeds City Councillors in response to the report given by Dave Haskins, Project Director of NGT, to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (formerly Metro) a few days ago.  In that document Mr Haskins seems to suggest to the WYCA that all is going smoothly with the trolleybus at the Public Enquiry.

This is definitely not the case, as anyone who has spent any time at the enquiry or listening to the examinations on the audio recordings should know.

A group of professionals amongst the objectors and residents associations along the northern route has entered the following statement as a rebuttal of Mr Haskins attempt to soft soap Leeds CC into continuing to give it their support.  Since almost no Councillors except Barry Anderson (and hopefully John Illingworth in due course) have actually attended the enquiry one may guess that either they are listening to the recordings privately and cringeing with embarrassment, or else they remain ignorant of what they have got us into.  The likes of the Councillors Lewis, Keith Wakefield or Tom Riordan have not dared to show their faces on the fifth floor of the Regus Building off Wellington Street, and if one is up to date with the evidence, one might understand why, although such cowardice is shameful.
 So, without further ado I will quote this document in its entirety so that what has been put to the Council can be in the public domain and no-one can pretend that they are not aware of the state of the evidence as it has been presented to the Inspector.

Comments on paper by Dave Haskins on NGT

To be presented at the West Yorkshire Transport Authority meeting on 26th September 2014.

Clause 2.8 refers to "previous consultations having shown support for NGT" but this "consultation" was for a very different scheme at a very different time. The current plans have minimal support from residents and small businesses along both the northern and southern sectors of the route. In fact several surveys have revealed overwhelming opposition to the current proposals.

Clause 2.13 indicates that the Promoters’ witnesses have claimed that the scheme meets its objectives and that there is a strong Policy fit. It does not mention that these claims have been very strongly disputed by objectorswho have pointed out that the proposers’ own analysis indicates that introduction of NGT would bring increases in greenhouse gas emissions, road casualties, average waiting times, car miles driven and car journey times, together with reductions in use of active modes and of rail.

Clause 2.13 also states that the Proposers’ witnesses have claimed that the business case is strong. However, it does not alert you to the fact that the revenue forecasts have been shown to be dependent on an assumption that people will be willing to pay more to travel on a trolleybus than to travel on a conventional bus or on a train. This assumption has been made despite the fact that surveys in Leeds in 2009 showed that there was no willingness to pay more to travel on a trolleybus.

If the revenue forecasts do not materialise, there is likely to be an ongoing call on funds from Leeds and/or the Combined Authority.

Appendix 1 states that typical journey times will be faster by NGT but does not point out that this relates only to the in-vehicle part of the journey; given the expected increases in average walking and waiting times, many journeys will take longer (door-to-door) if NGT is introduced.

Appendix 1 states that improved ride comfort will result from the scheme for its users. However during the Public Inquiry it has become clear that of the 160 passenger capacity being planned only 48 passengers will be seated and 110 passengers will be standing. Lack of seating has been found to be a major concern of public transport passengers.

Appendix 1 states that up to 4000 new jobs may be created if NGT is introduced but does not point out that this forecast was based on a model which took no regard of the increased car journey times caused by NGT and treated the supposed willingness to pay to travel on trolleybus vehicles as a fact.

Appendix 1 states that property and land prices will increase in value along the corridor. However, a very recent report by a leading Estate Agent in north west Leeds , issued into public domain, states totally the opposite impact -- a reduction in property values is to be expected.

It is no secret that DfT encouraged Metro to develop a high quality state of the art bus alternative after the demise of Supertram.  The choice of a trolley bus was Metro's decision not DfT's. The Inquiry has heard very strong criticism of the decision to choose an inflexible system which, given the speed of technological innovation in the bus industry, is likely to become obsolete within a few years.


These are all very serious matters of which Mr Haskins seems almost oblivious.  The enquiry has been a litany of disasterous revelations for NGT, but neither they nor the Council seem willing to admit the truth that has been elicited over the last few months, and they persist in their delusionary attempt to impose this catastrophe upon Leeds.

When this is all buried, the people of Leeds need to be able to examine in close detail who has been responsible, over the last two decades and more, for the profligate expenditure of some £40m on both the failed 'Super' tram and its sequel, the even less viable trolleybus.

I think we shall see that certain people feature prominently and we shall all want to know why they have played so loose with the financial resources of our city.  If I know one or two of them as well as I think I do, I think we can probably expect a condescending lecture on how trolleybus was the answer to all our problems and they were doing the best for us, despite ignoring our wishes, even when it has been finally seen off as a nightmare scenario and a financial disaster waiting to happen.   

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