Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Is the Guided Busway a good model for others to follow?

The Institute of Economic Affairs, a free-market think tank, has today published a report with the provocative title Paving over the tracks: a better use of Britain’s railways? According to the report: "There is strong evidence that allowing some commuter railways to be converted into busways would provide higher capacity at lower cost, reduce fares for passengers and cut subsidies from taxpayers." Of course, there are many different "busway" models, and readers of this blog will doubtless be most interested to know what the report has to say about the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway. In slightly fewer than 500 words, it makes clear that "a conventional toll road, priced and managed to avoid congestion, would almost certainly have delivered far greater economic benefits from converting the old rail beds". One of the report's main objections is to the "restrictive, bespoke infrastructure". What I can't find is an explanation as to why a toll road is used for comparison here when the remainder of the report seems to be making a case for other forms of dedicated busways (i.e. excluding other forms of road transport). In any case, it's surely better if you read the report for yourselves, rather than rely on me to summarise it accurately and fairly.

The report has received a degree of press coverage already - here, for example, are links to articles in the Independent (including fairly dismissive comments from the DoT and the Campaign for Better Transport) and the Cambridge News. A quick web search will throw up others.

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