No further maintenance to this web site will be made and simply remains as a historical piece of work for reference purposes.
In some cases hyperlinking to now defunct web sites was made but no attempt will be made to correct these issues.
However in July 2011 this web site was moved onto a new server making it necessary to make some very minor changes.
This site was re-visited in June 2013 to make it suitable for viewing with IE10 and to correct some minor errors. Unfortunately
our Feedback pages were being abused and therefore the facility was turned off. The continuance
of the site until the end of 2013 has been made possible through a single donation being made a few years ago.
This site remains to advocate for the best public transport solution along the Uxbridge Road
corridor which logic indicates to be trolleybuses. Presented on this web site is detailed information for the reader to make
an informed judgment.
Despite conjuring up thoughts about the back-end of the proverbial, buses are still crucial to public transport.
And despite falling passenger numbers they still carry far more people than any other public transport mode.
Without them, traffic congestion would be even more intolerable than it is today in many a city. Buses are
much more efficient users of road space and energy per passenger than cars. Only one vehicle in twenty driving
round Parliament Square in London is a bus and yet they carry half of all the passengers. They do, however,
emit large amounts of Sox, Nox and worst of all, micro-particles of contaminated carbon.
Thus, while buses are so essential and relatively efficient, they still contribute to pollution - if perhaps
less so than cars. What can be done to make them cleaner and more attractive to car users?
It's a subject that's been exercising the minds of transport planners for the last decade and they have come up
with some surprising answers. Without going into the wilder flights of fancy by looking at monorails, people
movers and car replacements, this web page keeps to the pragmatic solutions currently being tried around the
world that have some chance of widespread implementation.
The Tram Revival
Trams, until 15 years ago, were considered ancient relics that protagonists felt they had to rename to avoid negative
connotations. Terms like rapid transit and light rail tried to hide the fact that trams were being re-invented to
save city centres from car congestion. In France, where commitment to public spending for the public good always had
a strong political will to ensure prestige plans happened, there started a trend. In Germany too, and to some extent
in Britain, trams were extensively modernised, even reintroduced. In Strasbourg, futuristic vehicles started to cruise
the streets in deceptive quietness, quality smoothness and airy comfort. The home of Europe's Parliament could afford
the sort of money-no-object installation of the very best that public transport engineering and planning could provide.
And those cities of Europe that have sufficient size and commitment followed suit.
The last decade has seen a profusion of stylish trams sweeping into view. With the advantage of zero emissions at street
level, electrically powered rail cars
running either in their own reservation or together with other traffic have
very significant efficiency and environmental merits. They can be powered by any, and preferably renewable, electrical
generating source, they are reliable and long-lived, and they offer an attractive ride, a not inconsiderable point when
trying to get car drivers out of their favourite mode. But trams can only be justified where
passenger numbers are significant - many thousands of people per hour. Trams are very good at shifting large numbers,
but there are only so many places where their return will justify the expense.
An expense that has to include virtually rebuilding
and realigning, not only the roadway to accommodate tramway operations, but all the underground services that make up
the infrastructure of a 21st century city. These civil engineering tasks come with a price tag that is staggering -
as much as £20 million per kilometre.
Afterwards there is a legacy that does not meet with universal approval from another environmentally friendly mode
of travel, that of cycling; the tram tracks are acknowledged as being hazardous to bike riders as witnessed by this
road sign seen in Radford Road, Nottingham. The risk must have been considered sufficient to justify the
cost, of around £1,000, for the provision of this non-standard sign.
But electric street traction doesn't absolutely need steel wheels running on rails to make it attractive. Electric
traction is very environmentally appealing because it is the only way to deliver zero emissions where it counts - on
the streets at the point of use. Californian legislation, despite car manufacturers interference,
insisted on battery-electric powered cars forming a percentage of all new car that were delivered after 2003. Despite
a century and a half of trying though, battery technology for road vehicles hasn't progressed very far. Flywheels,
super capacitors and fuel cells are all attempts to provide alternative forms of autonomous electrically powered
transport, spurred on by the battery impasse. They are all problematic in terms of weight, space or required infrastructure.
But for public transport vehicles this really isn't a problem. By far the most technically efficient bus in energy
terms is the trolleybus.
Trolleybuses have been around for almost as long as trams. Around the world there are as many trolley systems as
tramways, and yet they seem to have been largely forgotten especially in Britain. Now, with new-found political
commitment to public transport, there is a very real chance that they may return, at least to the streets of London.
Most of Britain struggles to maintain bus services in the deregulated regime that sees competition and not public
service as the overriding ethic. In London, bus services are formally regulated to ensure widespread availability
of services. We believe that the best option for most places is trolleybuses running on
'high quality' routes with segregated, priority roadways wherever possible. They are a cost effective,
environmentally benign and efficient way of solving the problems of congestion and traffic related pollutants in the
Today's trolleybuses use hub motors to give very low floors that pull up level with dedicated stops, they're guided by
special kerbs and are smoothly quiet - passenger friendly, in fact. If this sort of public transport offers a faster and
more reliable alternative to private motoring, then car drivers will give up their anti-social habits. Congestion charging
is the stick, but the carrot is superbly designed street electric transit.
Electricity is the 'fuel' of the future because of its flexibility, its efficiency and its cleanliness. It can be, and
will have to be, sourced from a wide variety of alternatives that are mostly impractical for direct use in vehicles.
Power stations are the best place for fuel cells, the electricity grid the best place for electricity supply and overhead
wiring the best place for delivery. Not having a fuel source or generation equipment on board the vehicle saves weight,
provides more space for passengers and reduces reliability problems. Whilst exotic solutions always attract attention in
the quest for the holy grail of autonomous electric traction, the reality is that a trolleybus solution already provides
the backbone of urban street transport in many capitals of the world like Athens, Sao Paulo and Moscow and
are being reintroduced in Rome. There, and in 360
other cities around the world, trolleybuses, quietly, almost unnoticed, carry millions every day. And in the city, the
trolleybus is the only proven cost effective and environmentally superior alternative to the diesel bus.
Where there's a need to do something drastic about the general environment
in our cities, then electric public transport is the answer. Except for the densest of passenger numbers where trams are
most suitable, then trolleybuses are the answer and that includes the Uxbridge Road corridor.
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