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Busway plans will fill up too quickly; Views of Wales.

SIR - Rhodri Clark tells us that the manager of Newport Transport (a bus company) proposes a guided busway like that in Cambridge (124,000 population) to link Newport (146,000), Cardiff (346,000) and Swansea (240,000). But Cardiff and Newport added together are four times the size of Cambridge. The three cities are six times as big.

Nantes, France (population 285,000 and a Cardiff twin city), is similar in size to Swansea and just over half the size of Cardiff plus Newport. Since 1985 Nantes has built three tram lines, totalling 42km, and (since 2006) one 7km busway. The tram lines have proved, says this January's Today's Railways, "a massive success", but on the busway, the 17 metres buses), after only seven years of use, are now "saturated".

New longer buses (24 metres) would ease congestion, but would probably suffice for only a further five years at present rate of passenger increase. Trams, we are told, can be extended to 32 metres (or even more if needed) because they do not have to be steered - the tram line does that safely. Trams also use clean, and quiet, and potentially green, electricity, not the polluting diesel that probably noisier buses would use.

So for how long would one diesel busway linking our three South Wales cities, together nearly three times the size of Nantes, and none having any tram lines, be able to cope with the likely passenger demand? Common sense suggests our cities urgently need big investments in up-to-date, clean, urban transport systems if they are to attract new businesses and jobs.

Jeremy Lowe Llandaff
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Title Annotation:Editorial; Opinion, Leading articles
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Jan 28, 2014
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