Rapid transit in Brighton
- From the Brighton Argus:
Possible routes for fast city bus link revealed
by Andy Tate
This map shows the major destinations that could be served by a new
high-speed bus service.
It is one of two possible routes under consideration by Brighton and
Hove City Council for its planned rapid transport scheme.
The service would be designed to carry passengers across the city in
minutes by stopping only at such destinations and population centres.
Its low-emission hybrid electric vehicles would be styled to look and
feel different from existing buses and would use their own lanes and
They would be given priority at traffic lights, helping them avoiding
the jams endured by motorists. Stops would be limited and passengers
would buy tickets before boarding, cutting down waiting time.
Because the scheme uses regular highways, it would be less expensive
and risky than tram systems, which require permanent tracks to be
Since the council agreed to carry out detailed work on rapid
transport in January, two possible routes have emerged for the service.
Both options would link key points between the park-and-ride site in
the north, King Alfred Centre in the west and Brighton Marina in the
east. But only one would provide a direct service to Brighton station.
In the long term, the system could be expanded to serve Shoreham
Harbour or Hove station.
It forms part of a plan to tackle the growing problem of traffic
congestion, which the council fears could leave the city gridlocked
The problem is likely to be made worse as major new developments,
from Brighton Marina to the King Alfred Centre and the New England
Quarter by Brighton station, bring hundreds more people into the city.
The council has already made moves to reduce car use. These include
building bus lanes and raising parking prices so it is cheaper to
take a bus than to drive into the city centre.
Last week the council was named transport authority of the year by
researchers at the Centre for Transport Policy for increasing the
number of bus and bicycle journeys and reducing car use since 2000.
But it has also drawn criticism from traders and motorists for being
over-zealous in clamping down, sometimes literally, on car use.
The expansion of residents' permit zones has restricted the ability
of drivers to choose where they park and the news that managers of
Brighton Marina are considering imposing charges at its multi-storey
car park to prevent shoppers using it as a park-and-ride suggests
things could get tougher yet for motorists.
The growth of pay-as-you-go car clubs like the one launched in
Brighton and Hove on Monday are a sign the council's policies have
begun to change people's driving habits.
But leading councillors are convinced the only way to get a grip on
congestion in the long term is to go for major projects like park-and-
ride, which would encourage motorists to leave their cars in a big
out-of-town car park and take a bus into the city centre, and rapid
Reducing air pollution in the city is also a long-term challenge.
Last month Brighton and Hove was named one of most polluted places in
the UK. A report by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy said the
levels of traffic fumes in the city were already dangerously high and
the Government ordered the council to draw up a plan to put a lid on
By 2010 it is predicted there will be 14 million car trips into the
city every year. The council believes park-and- ride and rapid
transport could reduce this growth by 17 per cent - 7,700 fewer car
journeys a day.
It has proposed two possible locations for a 900-space park-and-ride
scheme in Patcham.
One, which would require six homes to be demolished, is Patcham Court
Farm, immediately south-east of the A27 and A23 junction. The other
is near the RSPCA animal shelter at Braypool, north-east of the
junction. Councillors will be asked to decide in December which site
to opt for.
Next Wednesday the policy and resources committee will decide whether
to push ahead with a major scheme bid for rapid transport and park-
and-ride. Officers have stressed supporting the bid would not mean
the council was committed to going ahead with either scheme.
If given the go-ahead, officers would apply to the Government for
half of the £18.4 million cost of the rapid transport scheme. The
rest would come from loans taken out at a cost of £1 million to the
The bid would also include £2.6 million for the park-and-ride - the
estimated cost of providing the facility at either of the two sites
currently being investigated.
Labour environment councillor Gill Mitchell said each scheme was
vital for the other to work.
She said: "Rapid transport needs park-and-ride because we need to get
those vehicles left at the edge of the city and we need to link the
park-and- ride to the rapid transport system to bring people to the
city without their cars and give people living in those developments
a proper alternative to the car."
Luke Bosdet, a spokesman for the AA Motoring Trust, an offshoot of
the AA, said it was vital passengers were persuaded the schemes were
a viable alternatives to the car.
He said: "A lot of it comes down to how they are presented. The
council has to persuade drivers the alternatives are viable for their
journeys. If they don't, they won't use them.
"If car drivers would prefer to leave their cars outside the city and
get a bus in it's got to be a good thing. It all comes down to giving
motorists choice and if people take to a park-and-ride it helps ease
congestion and parking problems in the city itself. If 15 per cent of
travellers use those alternatives it will ease congestion
It was also crucial the schemes were fully functional from the
beginning, he said. Schemes which had suffered teething problems in
other parts of the country had found it hard to regain public trust.
Park- and-ride was much more preferable than congestion charging,
which would be controversial.
A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: "Congestion is a
problem everywhere and West Sussex is certainly no exception."
Measures taken by the council to combat the problem include the
Fastway bus scheme linking Crawley to Gatwick, which removed 1,000
cars from urban areas during peak periods, a computer-controlled
traffic light system and the park-and-ride scheme which kept hundreds
of cars outside Horsham centre.
A spokeswoman for Sussex Enterprise said: "Problems with the
transport infrastructure have cost Sussex businesses an average of
£29,000 each over the last 12 months. Cumulatively, that is a cost of
£2 billion to the Sussex economy in the last year alone. This figure
is confirmation of what our members tell us day in day out - Sussex
businesses are being drastically held back by Government inactivity
over investment in transport."
Tony Bosworth, the transport campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said
congestion was a national problem.
He said: "When John Prescott became Deputy Prime Minister in 1997 he
said he would have failed if traffic levels had not fallen in five
years. Since then traffic levels have increased by ten per cent.
"Train and bus use has gone up but car use has gone up faster. We
need more affordable public transport to make streets safer for
cycling and walking.
"We are not asking people to give up their cars completely but people
are using them far too much and they should cut down their use."
Last month Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announced plans to
investigate pay-as-you-go road charging.
A nationwide scheme, which would replace road tax and fuel duty,
could be in place as early as 2015.
Satellite tracking would be used with charges varying from 2p a mile
on rural roads to £1.30 in congested areas.