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Transfer Car Passengers to Buses

16th September 1955
Page 48
Page 49
Page 48, 16th September 1955 — Transfer Car Passengers to Buses
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Congestion Increases Staff Problems and Demands Many Extra Buses : Fear of Restricting Liberty AFTER quoting the London Transport Executive's definition of congestion as a situation in which vehicles have to wait for more than one traffic cycle before proceeding,. Mr. Nielsen suggested that a preferable description was a condition that caused any slowing down of traffic speed.

Drawing attention to the large number of passengers conveyed by a relatively small number of buses and trams, compared with other forms of transport, Mr. Nielsen stated that the capacity of a bus with 70 passengers equalled that of 40 private cars with an average of 1.7 to 1.8 passengers.

In London, private cars represented more than 77 per cent. of the total number of vehicles providing transport into the centre, but they carried only 21 per cent. of the passengers; 13 per cent, of the vehicles were buses, but they conveyed 76 per cent. of the total. The argument that the higher speed of cars offset to some extent the larger amount of space occupied was true only when the drivers had the opportunity of using their greater speed.

An increase in the average speed of public transport since pre-war years itt 4

might lead to the erroneous conclusion, claimed Mr. Nielsen, that traffic conditions had improved. Factors which had created this improvement might have included technical advances in vehicle design, an increase in the average distance between stops and the opening of new routes on the outskirts of towns. A more realistic picture of the influence of traffic congestion was obtained by comparing present figures for rush-hour and off-peak speeds. In Rome, the average was reduced from 10.13 m.p.h. to 8.824 m.p.h. during rush hours and in Barcelona from 9.94 m.p.h. to 7.47 m.p.h.

Delays caused by congestion had been ascertained between journey times at peak hours and during periods when the traffic was at a minimum. These showed large variations. In London, delays up to 2 min. per km. were recorded, and in Rome, on two short street sections, 8-9 mm. had.-been lost. The low figure for London was ascribed to the high average traffic congestion throughout the day.

Basing his estimates on the results of investigations published by the British Road Research Laboratory, Mr.

Nielsen outlined the effect of parked vehicles on the rate of traffic flow. If the total vehicular traffic in both directions on a road 39.4 ft. wide .(the average in London) was 500 vehicles an hour, speed would be reduced by 17 per cent, with compact parking on one side and by 45 per cent. with parking on both sides.

The most serious result of a reduction in average speed was the necessity of adding to the number of .vehicles in service and the employment of more staff. Extra fuel or current was used, and accidents might increase.

On the assumption that the removal of congestion in London would increase the average speed of vehicles from 7.47 rn:p.h. to 9.94 m.p.h., the annual cost of delays was about £bn., the number of extra buses required was 300 and the number of additional stiff was approximately 1,800.

Paris Congestion Costs £1m.

In Paris, a comparison had been made between the average traffic density on Fridays and on Sundays, when there were few parked cars and no lorries in the streets, and it had been estimated that congestion resulted in a loss of 1,000m. francs (£1m.) and necessitated the use of 175 additional vehicles and 800 staff.

Based on the reduction of traffic speed since 1939, it had been computed that the extra cost of operating public service vehicles in Stockholm was 6m. Swedish kroner (£400,000). About 100 additional vehicles and 270 additional staff were required.

Checks of traffic delays with stopwatches in various congested street sections and comparisons with conditions in other streets had been the basis of cost calculations in Copenhagen. These had shown that congestion accounted for about 2m. Danish kroner and necessitated 42 additional vehicles and 655 staff.

Of the seven transport undertakings providing annual percentage figures showing cost increases, the figure for Istanbul was the highest (12 Der cent.) and the Lille figure was the lowest (0.5 per cent.). The estimate for Copenhagen was 42 per cent., whilst Rome gave L5 per cent. and Rouen 3 per cent.

Liberty Before Order The attitude of the authorities to the difficulty of finding adequate off-thestreet parking space for the increasing number of cars was typified, said .Mr. Nielsen, by a statement from Mulhouse that for the fear of the interests that might be hurt, it is decided not to put restrictions on the individual liberty, but rather to accept the difficulties arid the inconvenience of a constantly denser and more complicated stream of traffic."

Statistics from 13 centres indicated that the number of cars for which parking space was available as a percentage of the number registered in the built-up area varied from 2 per cent. (London and Nice) to 6 per cent. (Utrecht). In Metz it was 26 per cent. and in Dortmund, 14 per cent.

In answers to the question, " what parking restrictions do you consider most expedient?" Paris had advocated a ban on street parking in the central zone and Bremen a total ban in the main traffic arteries in the centre. Lille replied that total prohibition was required, but this was against business interests and nothing would be done.

Mr. Nielsen doubted whether " limited waiting" was of any benefit to public transport, because of the difficulty of enforcing the regulation. The obvious way to improve traffic condi tions was to transfer a large proportion of private-car passengers to public service vehicles. Cars must be considered unfit for urban traffic in central parts.

Apart from parking restrictions, other methods of aiding traffic flow that could be put into effect immediately included the extension of one-way systems and forms of traffic control

that. were easily adapted to changing traffic conditions. Paris had mentioned signals controlled by photo-electric cells; manually operated systems could be used to give public transport vehicles a certain preference.

Although the staggering of working hours was an obvious measure to relieve congestion, the replies from the majority of towns indicated that it could be generally introduced only under war-time conditions. In Manchester, factories outside the town had spread the hours of working, and some staggering had been practised in Basle and Zurich. In Dijon, lunch-hour variations had been unsuccessful, but .traffic had become much easier to control since the hours at which different factories ceased work were changed.

Large parking places for cars could relieve traffic congestion only if they were located outside the main traffic area. This would reduce the number of cars travelling and parked by the kerb. As a reply from Tunis had pointed out, however, the parks would be used only if waiting prohibitions were enforced in the central area.

Dealing at length with the parking problem in America, with observations based on personal experience, Mr. Nielsen said that the American people were of the opinion that only a ruthless dictator would deal with the traffic emergency, Mr. Harley L. Swift, president of the American Transit Association, had stated that the average speed of traffic in city streets had not increased in the past 40 years.

A total parking ban during rush hours in some of the streets in the central business districts of Philadelphia since 1952 had reduced congestion and the number of accidents, and had increased sales in the central stores by up to 8 per cent. Parking difficulties had, however, been aggravated outside the area Mr. Nielsen believed that the extension of parking and stopping restrictions was the most effective measure to reduce congestion. The use of cars threatened to paralyse traffic in cities.

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