Theres been quite a bit of drama in the city i live in recently around plans to convert an old railway line which has since become a shared cycle / pedestrian path into a 'Bus Rapid Transit' corridor. The whole thing has not been that well managed form a PR perspective and seems to have divided residents.
A few years ago a massive multi modal transport study on the whole Bristol urban area, which includes the city of Bath and a number of smaller but significant towns, with a total population of about 1 million took place.The current national political climate has moved away from LRT and urban rail (based on cost) and towards Bus. In the UK, busses are a private affair, they are ran by private companies for a profit. Bus patronage outside of London has reduced year on year as a result, as fares have risen dramatically and there is a perception that quality has reduced. Our local bus monopoly is First Group (who have just bought Greyhound US out of interest, so watch out for what happens...). Co-ordination between bus companies and local authorities is a bit anarchic. But we're told from the national level that any major mass transit infrastructure must be bus based.
So out of this study comes a proposal for a network of BRT lines. One of which uses the Bristol to Bath Railway path (http://www.paulspages.co.uk/bbcycle/ - the photo tour is worth taking). This path is not just your standard leisure trail affair, its the busiest in the country, it travels from the surrounding countryside right into the heart of the CDB using bridges and embankments and so its entirely free of traffic. The organisation Sustrans (http://www.sustrans.org.uk/default.a...=1202462564608), who helped to build the route, estimate that there are 2.4 million trips a year along its total lenght. The council suggests 1,000 cyclists a day across its automatic counter on one of the busiest bits and in fact traffic is lower at the weekends as it seems to mainly function as a commuter route.
Bristol already has the slowest traffic speeds in the UK outside of London, so most are in agreement something needs to be done. The proposals went semi public last year, but using a piece of legislation a cycling pressure group got hold of the full proposals complete with diagrams and maps (http://people.apache.org/~stevel/bikepath/). To say its caused a stir is understatement, and the elected councillors, imho unfairly, are getting the brunt of it. The local blogger has a day-to-day run down of the soap opera its turned into (http://thebristolblogger.wordpress.c...ath-spinwatch/ go back from there).
I'm in two minds. To outline the main objections,
If your trying to reduce car trips, why re-allocated a cycling and walking route to busses, why not reallocate road space?
The planned capacity is barely above the estimated daily use by walkers and cyclists.
As it does not run up the arterial routes the catchment area is too small.
The cuttings and embankments require engineering which replaces treed slopes with bare concrete walls, destroying the paths function as a linear park.
Existing crossings will be rationalised, cutting communities off from each other
The money (about 100m) would be better spent on building and enforcing strict Bus priority on existing roads.
The local, unpopular bus monopoly First is likely to be the operator.
Its still, just, a bus.
In support... well something needs to be done.
No questions really... just thought it was interesting, and maybe cyburbians have examples of BRT and where its been done well or badly.