'Outdated figures used to back rapid bus case'
PROMOTERS of the proposed new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) link used outdated figures to trump alternative recommendations for a tram, according to a transport expert.
Appearing on behalf of the objectors at the public inquiry into the guided bus route, Keith Buchan exposed that many of the 'models' used to propose the scheme were flawed.
The 'models' were used to calculate the benefit-to-cost ratio, and compare the proposals.
But Mr Buchan said that the figures used to rebut the tram plan were later changed as the idea developed – with many additional costs added.
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He argued that the current figures used (from the fourth 'model') would no longer stand up against the alternative tram, casting the BRT proposals into disrepute.
At the inquiry at Armada House yesterday, Mr Buchan said: "In terms of the inquiry, we have – among the different tests that have been done – four different versions used.
"It was the March 2009 model that was used in comparison with all the alternatives."
He added: "This is not suitable for the inquiry."
Mr Buchan also attacked the BRT promoters' current statistics of cost, speed, frequency, passengers, car users and parking – suggesting that changes would bring the proposals below the cost-to-benefit standards required by the Department for Transport.
He argued that because the current scheme no longer met the necessary objectives, an alternative should be chosen.
He asked the inquiry: "If you assume the model is unreliable and your objective is to achieve a suitable change in public transport, shouldn't you be looking for a better scheme?"
In his conclusion, submitted to the inquiry as evidence, Mr Buchan added: "There is thus no firm evidence that these alternatives perform better or worse than BRT.
"It is likely they could serve demand additional to the existing service, rather than replace it.
"All of the BRT tests suggest a weak effect in terms of achieving the promoter's objective of encouraging sustainable forms of travel."
The objectors are set to continue their evidence at the inquiry which is due to finish in two weeks
The inspector will continue to hear evidence from both sides and his decision could decide the fate of the Government-backed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, which would see buses running on a guided route both on and off road from 2015.
It is still not clear whether bendy buses, double deckers, or other vehicles will be used.
The Government has pledged £30million towards the scheme, with the remainder coming from the four councils in the Bristol area.