THE demand from bus companies and others to restore some through bus routes along Cornmarket (August 28) is understandable, but it poses a painful dilemma for transport planners who can claim substantial environmental and aesthetic benefits from removing all motor traffic from this street.
There must be more creative ways of serving the needs of those who cannot walk through the city centre than simply restoring two-way diesel bus through routes.
One possibility would be to run a tram service along a circular route running north along Cornmarket, west along George Street, and east along New Road and Queen Street, linking up the termini of conventional bus services from the east, north, west and south. Given the short distance involved, running in only one direction would serve all interconnection needs, leaving most of Cornmarket and Queen Street free to pedestrians. All the turns would be leftward, causing minimal impact on traffic at junctions. The service would be electrically powered, and since none of the streets involved has much architectural merit there would be little opposition to the gantries and power cabling required. Modern trams are very quiet (though it would of course require some means of alerting pedestrians) and there would be less impact on air quality than with a two-way diesel bus service.
Uptake would depend critically on location of stops and imaginative cross-ticketing arrangements. It would be simple to trial the viability of such a scheme using a conventional bus before a significant capital commitment had to be made.
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