Friday 12 December 2008

BRT Bendy-bus in the Balance

The people of Manchester have voted overwhelmingly against proposals for the introduction of a Congestion Charge. According to commentators this throws into disarray the Governments hopes of getting Congestion Charging accepted on the back of major investment in public transport, as is also proposed for Bristol.

Bristol's proposals, fronted by the West of England Partnership, revolve around a number of 'BRT' bus routes with bendy-buses made to look like trams. The Council were hoping that the public would accept this 'sham-tram' as symbolic of the substantial improvement in public transport promised as a precursor to the introduction of Congestion Charging.

But Government money was to be provided through Transport Innovation Funding (TIF) which relied on congestion Charging to deliver the 'modal shift' from car to public transport. Without the Congestion Charge the public transport improvements would be largely ineffectual and the economic justification for the investment invalid.

It seems likely that most of the money earmarked for TIF will now be diverted towards road building to try to accommodate some of the excess road traffic. Under normal circumstances this might be expected to generate even more traffic, but during a recession traffic levels may decline anyway so road building might appear for a while to offer some relief.


Glenn Vowles said...

These lyrics seem apprpriate:

And the public gets what the public wants

But I want nothing this societys got...

What you see is what you get

Youve made your bed, you better lie in it

Forest Pines said...

I'd have thought that a depression could paradoxically increase commuting - when jobs are in short supply, people who need work will travel further for it. The number of commuters might fall, but the average commute length will rise; plus, as the length rises, a smaller proportion of commuters will be able to use their feet, their bikes, or public transport.

Chris Hutt said...

There's a certain logic to what you say but I think any such effect will be swamped by effects leading to less travel - fewer people in employment, less economic activity, less profitability, lower incomes, etc.

Experts are expecting the railway companies to face serious problems with falling patronage yet with largely fixed costs. Some may go out of business, although I suppose big operators like First Group will be able to use bus revenues to keep going.