Large audience attends Civic Hall trolleybus meeting

by Bill

Public Meeting
Councillor James Lewis and Councillor Richard Lewis

The meeting was chaired by the Reverend Joanne Pearson, assistant rector at St George’s Church, and priest in charge at St Augustine’s, Wrangthorn and the speakers were Councillor James Lewis, head of the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority, and Councillor Richard Lewis, head of Development at Leeds City Council.


After an introduction by Tony Green, deputy chairman of the A660 Joint Council, there were short talks from the councillors, followed by questions from the audience. Here are some of the exchanges that took place during the meeting:


Councillor Richard Lewis I think people need to get real about how long journeys take on the A660. Headingley is the area that concerns me most. What is going to happen to this community if we do nothing about Headingley Lane? What you see in other areas where rapid transit schemes go ahead is that house prices go up and I’m sure that this will happen along Headingley Lane.

Chris Foren of the Green Party Why do proponents of the trolleybus persist in calling it rapid transit when 12mph is not rapid in anyone’s book. Call a spade a spade. I doubt you can sort out the traffic on Headingley Hill. You’ll just attract more traffic. You’ve been given money on condition you won’t restrict cars. Increasing highway provision is like digging a ditch in a swamp. Why not build a cycle lane along this road. Lots of students say they’d love to use a bike but don’t dare to. Would you want your son or daughter to cycle along that route? If we had a modal shift to active transport it would improve our air quality. We should also re-open Otley station.

Andrew Parker of West Park Residents Association The stops are further apart or less frequent. Half the buses will disappear. How is this an improvement?

Councillor Richard Lewis Trolleybuses and ordinary buses don’t do the same thing. I believe the statement that half the bus services will be cut comes from an A660 Joint Council leaflet. It’s certainly not come from anything that we’ve produced. Trolley does something different. It makes me quite frustrated that people don’t pick up on this.

Paul Marchant If people don’t see this, maybe it’s your problem.

Calls from the Audience Tell us the difference.

Reverend Joanne Pearson What is the difference?

Councillor Richard Lewis It doesn’t stop frequently and has a third the number of stops.

Audience Why not have some of the other buses do that then?

Audience You’re just saying a bus that stops less will get there faster.

Councillor Richard Lewis James is clearer than I am about the technology. I struggle to understand it. If bus companies want to stop less, they can do that.

Malcolm Bell Why bendybuses? Heaven knows. They’ve been taken out in London. It’s crazy. Have double deckers if you must. Forget bendybuses and overhead cables. Have segregated bus and bike lanes.

Don Townsley Trolleybuses are obsolete equipment. There’s no doubt about that. Metro say that trolleybuses are the crest of a wave. They’re not. There are more hybrid buses in use here than there are trolleybuses in North America and Western Europe. If we go down this road, we’ll be putting poles up when every other city is using battery buses. In Rome, the trolleybuses cost a million euros each and cost the mayor the election.

Christine Perry I have an elderly relative whose property will be devastated when you compulsorily purchase her garden. Many other people will be affected too. You decided you would purchase my relative’s previous home to make way for Supertram so she sold her previous home at a loss and moved to West Park. Our roads are too narrow. We are not a European city with wide streets. What can justify the expense and irreversible destruction?

Bill McKinnon The information that the number 1 and number 6 bus service is likely to halved if the scheme goes ahead came from Metro at a slide presentation given at Holt Park The information was on one of the slides. About jobs. Its claimed the scheme will create 4,000. The trolleybuses will have 20 drivers and 20 conductors. That’s 40 jobs. The National Audit Office calculated that Sheffield Supertram, at twice the length of the proposed trolleybus route, created 1,600 jobs. On what basis have you calculated that the trolleybus will create 4,000 jobs?

Councillor James Lewis Regarding projections about jobs. It’s not like getting out a measuring tape. It’s not like we’ve smelt the seaweed or turned to astrology. It gives a wider labour market. It opens up sites for new development. I don’t want to get too stuck on that.


The meeting was attended by over 100 people from right across Leeds, and there was standing room only.