|Light Rail Transit Association
Light Rail for better public transport
SUPERTRAM SYSTEM REPORT
The system has built up traffic very significantly since Stagecoach took over and changes will be described on a line by line basis.
The three city centre stops, at Fitzalan Square, Castle Square, and Cathedral, all handle substantial volumes of traffic of more or less equal amounts, and all routes feed into these three stations.
The Middlewood route is at last progressing very well indeed. The University, and Netherthorpe Road stops have been busy from the start and additional new housing within the catchment area of Netherthorpe Road has been built. The area that was a traffic desert because large numbers of blocks of flats had been demolished just as the tramway was opened, has now been revived. The old Infirmary now has a supermarket alongside it, and next to that are many new attractive houses. This is a much lower density of population compared with the old area, but useful traffic has been generated for the trams. Hillsborough stop has always handled good traffic but Hillsborough Park stop now also produces good traffic from the adjacent shops. Middlewood terminus has been transformed with a fine new Park and Ride facility complete with tarmaced space for about 180 cars (there were 86 parked on 15 May, at 1300.). A toilet block has been erected very recently and traffic is growing steadily. There is space for a 50% increase as soon as this is required.
This one stop short branch from Hillsborough has always seemed to be disappointing. It runs to nowhere in particular but should be the starting point for extensions into housing areas beyond. Traffic however has risen with many people parking cars in nearby streets and off peak trams seen during May all had double figures of passengers using the stop. The next Park and Ride facility like that at Middlewood is to be built at Malin Bridge and this will serve what has become an obvious need.
Traffic along the route along the Don Valley has developed most encouragingly. At the start the intermediate stops yielded little or no traffic and it was common to ride from Meadowhall all the way to Fitzallan Square without handling a single passenger at the intermediate stops. The provision of a medium sized car park at Cricket Inn Road stop changed this feature of the line and the car park has now been replaced by a much larger car park (about 300 spaces, and about half filled) at Nunnery Square (the stop initially served only the Depot). The technology park at Attercliffe now generates traffic all day long, the Don Valley Stadium/Arena stop produces heavy traffic at times, while Valley Centertainment - a new stop - has generated heavy traffic. A large car park is used by commuters during the day and fun-seekers in the evening. The stop has been a great success for the tramway. Tinsley is attracting passengers wishing to visit the Debenhams end of the Meadowhall Mall while the Meadowhall terminus itself is busy as always.
Initially this was the busiest of all the routes serving varied suburban communities by a route which is indirect as far as the outer part of the line is concerned. The areas served include the socially deprived section through Arbourthorne Road, typical suburbia through Manor Top to Gleadless Town End, and finally the newly built communities to Beighton and Mossboro in which car ownership might be significant. Fare levels were adjusted early on so that inner suburban traffic has grown steadily, and bus competition is less than it once was.Good use of the tram is made by College students at Granville Road, and Arbourthorne Road has become a busy stop. Gleadless Town End has always had good traffic and traffic along the outermost section is also now growing steadily. Further new house building is happening near Donetsk Way and Moss Way stops. It was good to see genuine golfers using the Birley lane stop, which adjoins the club house. The Crystal peaks Shopping Centre generates much traffic for the Crystal peaks stop, and a lesser amount for Beighton despite the rather long walk between the stops and the actually shopping areas. South of Beighton traffic is much thinner since the Mossboro housing areas all lie some way to the west of the tramway and bus routes are often more convenient. At Halfway a fine Park and Ride facility has been provided with about 180 spaces though only 50 - 60 cars are parked there daily. A free bike parking area - secure and supervised - is used by several cyclists daily. Beyond the Halfway stop, which has a bus interchange bay alongside the tram platform, several new housing areas and a supermarket have been built.
This two stop branch from Gleadless Town End is a problem. Traffic slumped soon after opening when three tower blocks at the terminus were emptied for refurbishment. Two refurbished blocks are now occupied and traffic has risen again but there is now only a half hourly service (20 mins in a.m. peak) on weekdays. Trams run to Cathedral supplementing the Halfway cars usefully, and then they double back to Meadowhall. Surprisingly both Herdings Park and Herdings Leighton Road stops produce significant traffic and trams on the branch usually carry double figures of passengers. The use of the route doubling back to Meadowhall performs patchily. The indirect route discourages Don Valley/station traffic which had been building up slowly when the route operated direct via the "rare" side of the triangle but the volume of traffic to the city centre is greater. Trips from Meadowhall are timetabled just 2 minutes after a Middle wood tram so get very little traffic at the intermediate stops.The best solution to how to serve this line remains elusive.
Stagecoach have performed well. The on-tram conductors are well groomed, are polite, and most efficient at gathering fares. The public like them. The staff at the Park and Ride facilities are similarly well trained and are a good first contact for the public. A girl was sick on a tram near Attercliffe on an outbound working - the driver contacted Control at Nunnery and a clean up squad was ready at Nunnery Square stop when the tram returned to undertake a quick and efficient clean-up exercise (15 May). When the tramway opened, there was considerable feeling against the newcomer in the local press and among the public at large. Today the trams are welcome, are providing an efficient service, and the company is to be congratulated for managing to perform such a good turnaround.
Iain D.O. Frew.
Stagecoach Supertram: Telephone - Passenger Enquires- 0114 272 8282
Main Office - 0114 275 9888
Internet - http://www.supertram.com
Transport Executive (SYPTE): Traveline - 01709 515151
Internet - http://www.sypte.co.uk
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