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Affordable rail is the answer


Mark Hansford's article about new interest in guided buses (NCE 2 September) misses several points.

Firstly kerb guided buses (kgb) have been operating in England for many years in Ipswich and Leeds. A guideway in Bradford is also several years old.

Prior to that, kgb were introduced in Essen in 1988 and Adelaide in 1995. The CERT scheme in Edinburgh was abandoned in 1999 as uneconomical.

The second point to note is that people with cars will not ride buses. Nearly half of UK bus trips are made in London.

Runcorn New Town was built in the 1960s around a busway network. Now it carries the same trips (12%) as other similar sized towns without busways.

Imagining that cheap busways are the way forward is to repeat the mistake of the 1960s in building cheap high rise flats.

The evidence worldwide is that car commuters will make some journeys by rail but rarely by bus. Given the UK government's challenge, ingenious engineers need to find ways to deliver affordable rail schemes.

Busways, as Runcorn proves, will not get people out of cars and end up being abandoned or converted to roads. Once the industry recovers from being subsidy dependent, might we see some British inventiveness.

Professor Lewis Lesley, Transit Promotion, 26 Hope Street, Liverpool L1 9BX

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