Sir – Like many, I suspect, I was appalled to read Noelle Brown's letter proposing the abandonment of pedestrianisation in favour of “light, swift-running, traffic streams”, presumably including the buses she so dearly loves, which are far from light or swift.

First, blame Inspector Morse if you like, but many people place a very high value on the quality of the historic built environment in Oxford. Many businesses and livelihoods now depend upon it. Second, we should remember that buses depend upon large amounts of our money in subsidy. Unlike train operators, bus operators still pay only around a sixth of their “track costs”.

When The High was recently rebuilt, it was largely because of the damage done by frequent passage of what are the equivalent in all but name of heavy lorries.

Third, buses form by far the greatest deterrent to cycling — by far the most environmentally benign and energy-efficient mechanical mode of transport, and something with which Oxford was once identified.

What Oxford needs badly is a light electric tram system, running between park-and-ride depots, through the centre.

Electricity would replace diesel, removing noise and air pollution.

A smaller cross-section and coupled carriages would carry more people while using less road space.

Guiding rails along the centre of the carriageway, would remove the threat to cyclist and pedestrian alike, leaving them considerably more room.

But most of all, such a silent, clean, system would be far more becoming to the town, and would make the ideal platform from which to enjoy all it has to offer.

A light-rail system would probably be viable on a purely commercial basis, shared by multiple service providers.

However, as long as bus operators are granted, not just the licence to pollute, but massive subsidy in so doing, we are not likely to witness any such innovation.

Dr Ian East, Islip