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Rapid transit in Brighton

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  • Alex Farran
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 7, 2005
      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
      modified roads.

      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
      laid down.

      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
      by 2010.

      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.
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