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Guided Bus Usage 'Hopelessly Over-Estimated'
Date Issued: Tuesday 24th May 2005
County Council's projections cause concern in Government-backed analysis
Cambridgeshire County Council's projections of 20,000 guided bus users per day have been based on unrealistic comparisons with other schemes, according to a report by the Transport Research Laboratory written in April 2003.
The council has consistently used projections based on multiplying the morning peak-hour usage by a simple factor of six. This method had been taken from studies on Park and Ride sites in Coventry, which were in turn converted to an annual basis using statistics from London Transport in the early 1990s.
At the Public Inquiry, objectors pointed out that such methods were not appropriate to rural south Cambridgeshire, with lower housing densities and higher second car ownership. The council rejected these objections, stating that Coventry was valid because of its Park and Ride sites.
The London analogy is based on a route from Reading to Stratford via the capital. The council said this was valid because it linked 'two medium-sized urban areas' and had 'a major catchment area en route'. Stunned objectors racked their brains to work out what they meant, and where the 'major catchment area' was between Cambridge and St Ives.
The Transport Research Laboratory's report states, 'The concern with the annualisation process lies with the use of the factor from London, as being representative of what is a small urban/rural service, but we may have no choice if there are no more suitable examples'.
"Using London as a comparison means that the council's figures are hopelessly over-estimated", said Tim Phillips, chairman of CAST.IRON. "The council have presented this flawed figure of 20,000 passengers per day as being a public benefit not available to other transport options".
"Worst of all, this is yet another case of the council denying what it already knew and claiming that their methods were robust and accurate. In reality they had already been brought into serious question by independent analysts but they chose to hide this fact.
"Once again, objectors have been shown to be right in the face of the council's propaganda machine."
For more information about CAST.IRON visit www.castiron.org.uk.
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