Response to critics of “Guided buses – on the wrong track?”
8 August 2008
Aside from my prophecy, my article on Guided Buses (July 2008) presents facts from named sources, and indisputable problems, not my views. In contrast, critics express their views, refer to freight and pray in aid schemes, within which they lump guided systems, as if they were without problems in that environment. A document downloaded from the Internet and kindly supplied by the German Embassy states that the ‘British government has made it a criminal offence for an untrained driver to drive guide-wheel-equipped buses’. If ‘criminal’ is disputed, it is, unarguably, an offence for an untrained driver to drive such a vehicle. Dr. Tebb’s reference to Construction & Use Regulations – with which I became acquainted 50 years ago – is a red herring. The legality of the vehicle is not disputed, only that of an untrained driver. I advanced no personal views comparing rail with guided buses. My book on Closures clearly shows that I carried no torch for branch lines.
If I dropped a cluster bomb, they have created a smokescreen around the facts:
· the rest of the world is disinterested.
· broken guide wheels are a problem.
· guided systems include free park-and-ride, which should first serve conventional buses, before calculating incremental financial benefits (if any) from installing guided systems.
· some operators will not convert to guided systems.
· the inventor of guided buses criticised the Cambridgeshire scheme.
· the most congested areas cannot be equipped with guide systems
· being part of a ‘package’ does not eliminate disadvantages
It is significant that critics do not dispute:
· there are few advantages, as no more are identified.
· cost escalation.
· construction delays.
· disused railways have to be widened.
· railway bridges had to be rebuilt.
· some passengers may stand.
· some operators, who promised support, have withdrawn.
airily dismissed ‘because railways are affected by snow’. Unlike
guided busways, which rely on men with spades or costly under surface heating,
trains attach snow ploughs; hence it is a problem for guided-bus systems. The
point that I was making about accidents in
Tebb’s railway strike jibe is not backed by comparative road transport
statistics – because they aren’t any. Railway strikes have no
bearing on the undeniable prospect of strike-bound guided-busways paralleled by
car-congested roads. Railway managers replaced key staff during disputes to
keep services running, as media reports revealed. No other industry dare do
likewise; they would face a walk-out. I did not ‘witness’ strikes
– implying passivity – but to maintain services, personally
directed pre-emptive measures – which did not concede a penny - the basis
of which non-railway people would not comprehend. If UK industry had made,
without dispute, labour saving economies analogous to those for BR track and
signalling staff from the earliest years of nationalisation, there would still
be a UK industry worthy of the name. I refer him to
& Richardson have misread my article. I neither said it is a complete
system, nor ignored off-system operations, which are clearly mentioned. Johnnie
I do not
dispute that ‘rare events’ affect other road transport. Those
events will not merely affect guided systems, but will block them. No evidence
is advanced by Nick Richardson that they can be easily ‘mitigated
against’. When debris falls into guided systems, buses will stop until it
is removed – by whom remains to be seen, but it is unlikely to be a
driver who would not be ‘covered by insurance’, and may contravene
‘H&SE rules’. Conventional buses bypass debris or turn and use
another route – options not available on guided systems. He claims that the
article presented only negatives. Advantages claimed by advocates are listed,
although some apply to alternative systems (e.g. access for mobility impaired).
He claims that the listed disadvantages are not exclusive to one mode –
but they are exclusive to guided systems, since they present no problems on bus
lanes or elsewhere. It cannot be claimed that disadvantages are superficial -
why else is there disinterest from so many
There is no
need for an editorial apology for a factually based, source-identified article.
If submissions had to be considered by a ‘committee’, a lack of
consensus, together with the delay making everything out-of-date, would reduce
Focus to an annual stapled A4 Newsletter. It would certainly slash irrelevant
content from critics’ letters! Methinks the
lady lobby doth
protest too much.
This letter answered every single point made by the three critical letters
published in Focus in August 2008. The only changes in ‘Focus’ from
my original are to replace ‘Johnnie’ with ‘John’, and
to leave out the word ‘