I have raised concerns about the viability NGT as I am worried about the sustainability of the Leeds Trolleybus project, given recent changes to the population make-up in theNorth Westof the city.
The financial case forNGT(New Generation Transport) was originally significantly influenced by estimates of the number of students who would use theNorth Westline of the network, but that part of the city continues to lose large numbers of students as they gravitate towards the city centre. This follows the increasing number of student accommodation blocks being built closer to the universities as well as the planned closures of long standing student accommodation further out of the city, such as Bodington Hall at Lawnswood.
I am also concerned about the impact and viability on existing bus services.
Clearly this project has the potential to bring benefits to the city, but I have real concerns, at this stage, about the sustainability ofNGT. The initial planning for the project made a number of assumptions about usage on theNorth Westroute. These were based on the sizeable student population in the area. But this has changed dramatically in recent years, and I’m not at all convinced there will be the anticipated levels of footfall that were initially envisaged.
There is also the issue of whether we can really generate a shift in people’s behaviour to get significant numbers of people to switch from using their cars to using the Trolleybus. One of the major factors, at the planning stage, was the price point per journey. This has to be appealing enough to attract travellers – yet so far no figures have been mentioned. I fear that if we don’t get answers on these issues quickly, we’ll lose much of the momentum that major projects like this need in order to be successful.