Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Metro-Type System Expansion Criticised

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Metro-Type System Expansion Criticised

Article excerpt

Nexus (the Tyne and Wear PTE) has submitted a plan for an unprecedented expansion of the Metro-type system, more than tripling its size.

There are a lot of good reasons why this shouldn't happen and why it probably won't succeed.

Firstly, after the Metro extension to Sunderland has failed to attract sufficient passengers to break even, incurring huge financial losses as a result, why would anyone want to embark on more of the same?

There is an urgent case for reviewing the passenger demand predictions. It seems that the PTE don't know what the public want, where and how they want to travel.

More importantly, the "Orpheus" expansion project is supposed to be about bringing people back on to public transport, yet it is clear that they don't seem to understand the real reasons why people are leaving public transport.

Secondly, it will create a huge financial burden - it will cost pounds 1bn to build, but the loan repayments will total over pounds 4bn - and all of this money will leave the local economy to go to national banks.

Thirdly, the experience with the Sunderland extension is that its overall effect on public transport provision has been negative.

Although the Metro has attracted too few passengers to make the extension economic, by taking perhaps 15pc of the passengers from neighbouring bus services, it has proved enough to tip the balance and cause services to be withdrawn.

If this scheme is so unrealistic that it will not come to fruition anyway, why does it matter?

It matters because it means realistic options are being neglected at a time of unprecedented pressure on the public transport system.

The vast majority of public transport users in Tyne and Wear are bus users.

Nexus should be giving the greatest part of their attention to these, but instead imply we should accept and be resigned to bus services withering and dying.

They say that buses cannot provide a competitive, attractive service acceptable to modern users and that instead we should plan to replace buses with new Metro-type services.

The job of the PTE is supposed to be to promote public transport as a whole, not just the part of it (the Metro) that they run themselves. …

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