Trolleybuses could be running from a Park & Ride facility in Stourton, through Hunslet to the city centre and beyond in five year’s time.
Two consultation events were held in Hunslet last week by project organisers West Yorkshire Metro. Residents had the opportunity find out more about the scheme, details of the route and air their concerns. Organisers stressed that funding was now in place and that NGT (New Generation Transport) is not just a concept – it’s going to happen.
As with the HS2 rail link, the proposed route through South Leeds appears to be mostly uncontentious. A new Park and Ride facility will be built at Stourton next to Junction 7 of the M621 catering for 1500 cars. The route then uses part of the existing rail corridor (as does HS2) through Hunslet rejoining the road network at Balm Road. Trolleybuses will cross Church Street and run past the Penny Hill Centre (Morrisons) along Waterloo Road, which is currently pedestrianised, before joining Hunslet Road and running via the Royal Armouries on it’s way into town.
Not everyone is happy with the scheme. Some Hunslet residents are concerned about Trolleybuses coming past their houses and are worried for the safety of children playing in the street not hearing the electric vehicles.
Residents from North Leeds were also present lobbying against the scheme. They are concerned about the scheme’s impact through Headingley and Hyde Park and especially its encroachment onto Woodhouse Moor. They have challenged the scheme claiming that it is expensive, uses old technology and will have minimum reduction in journey times compared to the existing bus service.
Metro say the new service has many of the advantages of the proposed tram system that was scrapped when Government funding was withdrawn. For two thirds of the route (north and south) the trolleybuses will be segregated from other road users and this will lead to greater reliability and guaranteed journey times regardless of other traffic.
Metro also stress other benefits. NGT Trolleybuses are electric, so they will cause no pollution en route. The scheme is also expected to boost the Leeds economy by £160m a year and create 4,000 new jobs.
If the scheme is successful in taking 1,500 cars off the roads in South Leeds every morning, this should have a serious impact on traffic levels, rush hour congestion and air pollution.
Metro’s NGT website has more information about the project including 51 “frequently asked questions”.
Metro are still collecting views on the scheme. You can email your views to email@example.com or write to NGT, Wellington House, Leeds, LS1 2DE.