25th June 2002

Last Updated:
17th Sept 2002

Environmental Scrutiny Committee


Cllr. Cubitt - LabourCounty Councillor Cubitt


Cllr. Aylwin - Lib Dem
Cllr. Brown - Labour
Cllr. Cook - Labour
Cllr. Cox - Labour
Cllr. Derbyshire - Labour
Cllr. James - Lib Dem
J. James
Cllr. Patel - Labour
Cllr. Wakefield - Lib Dem
Cllr. Walker - Conservative


County Councillors Robinson, Cabinet Member - Environment, and Smith


County Councillors Owens and Pantak


The Chairperson welcomed County Councillor Patel who was attending his first meeting of the Environmental Scrutiny Committee following his appointment by the annual meeting of Council on 30 May, 2002.


The minutes of the meeting held on 21 May, 2002 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairperson.


(County Councillor Brown declared an interest in accordance with Article 12 of the Member Code of Conduct, as a non-executive Director of Cardiff Bus. The Member remained at the meeting during consideration of this item).

Following the Committee’s site visit to the prototype testing track for the ULTra system in Cardiff Bay, the Chairperson welcomed Professor Martin Lowson, Professor of Advanced Transport at the University of Bristol, and Chief Executive of Advanced Transport Systems Limited; John Dacey, Corporate Manager, Chris Pike, Chief Traffic & Transportation Officer, and Paul Carter, Operational Manager, Transport Policy and Development, who had been invited to make detailed presentations on the project as part of the ongoing scrutiny of Public Transport.

  1. Presentation by Professor Martin Lowson on “Sustainable Personal Transport”.
The ULTra (Urban Light Transport) is an innovative form of Personal Rapid Transit (PRT), which is being developed to meet the need for sustainable and effective transport in the future.
Professor Lowson detailed the business case for the ULTra project, outlining:
  1. partnership arrangements between industry-based partners, experts in the field, government and local government bodies;
  2. historical innovation transport development, dating back from the high-pressure steam engine to the internal combustion engine and the car-based transport system of today;
  3. current transport needs and problems;
  4. the proposed project development for Cardiff;
  5. technical issues.
Professor Lowson advised that from recent evaluations undertaken by the Department of Transport, it was suggested that a comprehensive ULTra system could attract between 25% and 30% of the present car-drivers.
The ULTra concept builds upon well-developed tried and tested automobile component technologies, and is based on a systematic analysis of the needs of modern transport. The concept aims to provide transport which
  1. is available on demand;
  2. goes non-stop from start to destination;
  3. is easily accessible and offers a full choice of destinations;
  4. is strongly environmentally-friendly;
  5. is low-cost;
  6. has demonstrably high safety together with personal security;
  7. integrates well with other forms of transport.
This new approach is to provide an automatically controlled, personal taxi system to run on its own dedicated network. The units are available on demand at a series of stations situated around the city. All stations are off-line, therefore there is no need for vehicles to stop during their journey time. The maximum speed has been limited to 40 kph (25 mph) for safety reasons, but it is recognised that trip times are reduced by a factor of between 2 and 3 compared to cars or buses in congested city centres. Simulation of the application of the system to Cardiff at peak periods, has shown that nearly all passengers (more than 90%) would obtain immediate service from a waiting vehicle. One of the key factors for this concept is the importance of an Integrated Transport Strategy. ULTra would need to complement existing forms of transport. By providing a network link with, on-demand access, to major bus and rail stations or to park and ride sites, it will improve the attractiveness of these modes of transport. ULTra can contribute to the improved transportation, both directly, and by enhancing the appeal of other modes.
Professor Lowson detailed the key infrastructure features of the concept. The ULTra runs on its own guideway network with offline stations. Typically, the network is arranged in a series of loops serving key transport locations around the city. These loops are combined by merge/diverge sections. In combination with offline stations this provides non-stop travel. The track itself is passive and switching is achieved by in-vehicle steering using an electronic guidance system. The network form allows the guideway to be one-way, providing important benefits in cost and visual intrusion. Design testing has shown that infrastructure construction costs for the overhead guideway would be less than that for an equivalent footbridge, and for at-grade track less than the equivalent footpath. This is because the system loadings are less than the pedestrian crush loads required for footway design. This also means that the system can be run into buildings designed to existing floor-loading codes with no structural change. In addition, to provide a u-shape form guideway it would only require a 2-metre width. The guideway itself is 45cm deep in order to minimise visual intrusion. Estimates have shown that the mature headway for ULTra is one second, and assuming 65% utilisation, would carry over 2,000 vehicles per hour in each lane. This capacity is equal to that of a single lane of motorway. The ULTra however, occupies one third of the ground space required by a conventional road.
The key features of the vehicle are:
  1. 800kg gross weight;
  2. four-passenger capacity;
  3. 40kph speed;
  4. 2kW continuous power;
  5. 8% of the gross weight is battery pack.
Professor Lowson advised on the current project position following one year of testing. He stated that the prototype pod had been tested on a track with all city application features. Further testing would be undertaken so that the programme reaches maturity before Stage 0 of the project was put into operation. In addition to testing the vehicle consideration had been given to accessibility.
A feature of the design approach from the outset had been that the ULTra would provide significant increased accessibility for those with a wide range of disabilities. Advice had been taken from the DfT Mobility and Inclusion Unit and consultation and evaluation had been made with Cardiff Disability Groups. Further detailed design work would now be undertaken. However, it should be noted that it is designed so that there is no change in the level between the platform and the vehicle floor; the vehicle door has been designed to facilitate entry; the vehicle design can accommodate a wheelchair and a companion; and wheelchairs can be turned around inside the vehicle.
Safety and security within the vehicle is a prime requirement for any transport system. The target for the ULTra was a safety higher than 2009 targets for rail. Consultations had been undertaken with the HM Rail Inspectorate from the early stages of the project, supported by independent safety experts. The Inspectorate, having considered the initial concept safety paper, issued a ‘letter of no-objection’. The ULTra design and operational concept had therefore been accepted as feasible and reasonable by the HMRI. Discussions are ongoing with the HMRI.
Much consideration had been given to the design, structure and method of operation of the vehicle to avoid vandalism. It had been agreed that the vehicles would be covered by CCTV, the details of which were to be finalised, and that the operation of the vehicle would be by smart card, which would identify the user to the operator. The introduction of both of these methods would give the option to the operator of increasing staffing in other areas, for example at station locations.
ULTra offers significant benefits in personal security. All trips are only undertaken either individually or with companions chosen by the traveller. During peak periods, 90% of the trips would be available immediately on demand with no waiting time at the stations. Off-peak these figures rise to 100% since vehicles can be assured to be available at all stations. All stations would be well lit and would be under continuous coverage by CCTV. Direct links to the controller would be available from all vehicles and from all stations. As part of the implementation of the concept in Cardiff the Council undertook a survey. Members of the public completed questionnaires. Although the results should be treated with caution as there is no operational experience on which to base answers. Some of the key points of the survey were that:
  1. no respondents felt that the vehicle appearance was poor;
  2. the interior arrangements were also very positive, although not as strongly positive as to the external appearance;
  3. the visual appearance of the elevated structure was generally regarded as good.
In Response to the Question regarding the use of the system it was noted that this mode of transport was acceptable, and that if introduced, would increase the current usage of public transport.
It appears that the ULTra does offer a significantly more attractive form of public transport. The questionnaire result closely matches results of the modal shift analysis previously undertaken for the Council, which suggests that between 25% and 30% of current car users could be attracted from the car on to an ULTra system. The Committee was advised that other questions covered fares, and it had been found that people were willing to pay a higher fare than the bus to used the ULTra. Professor Lowson advised that the EDIT (Evaluation and Demonstration of Innovative concepts in Transport) was a project funded by the European Commission. Cardiff was now taking a lead in this Group as they were utilising the ULTra system as a model of innovative transport.
The EDIT programme had also supported in-depth studies on potential applications in four European cities including Cardiff, and these were Eindhoven, Stockholm and Rome. The Commission very much supports the objective of Cardiff County Council to have 50% of all passenger trips being delivered by public transport in the medium term. The Commission believes that the ULTra system is the right way to achieve this objective.
In conclusion, Professor Lowson stated that the successful development of the ULTra system would offer:
  1. a new alternative to the car;
  2. improvement of the quality and attractiveness of public transport;
  3. major reductions in energy emissions and resource usage;
  4. sustainable personal transport;
  5. better quality of life in urban areas.

The Chairman thanked Professor Lowson for his informative presentation and invited questions on technical issues from Members of the Committee.

  1. Question – The concept is good, however, in order to utilise it, users would need to get to a pick-up point and this is usually achieved by car.
Response – The National Assembly for Wales has approved a bid by Cardiff County Council to support the first stage of the implementation of the ULTra. The first stage (Stage 0) will enable the system to be operated between Bute Street Railway Station, County Hall, National Assembly for Wales, and the Inner Harbour. It is anticipated that Stage 1 to link the Bay with the City Centre will progress in parallel subject to a public/private partnership project. The ULTra will be developed to complement existing forms of transport, by providing a network link to bus and rail stations with an on-demand service. The stated preference survey showed that 5% additional people would transfer to the ULTra/Bus combination.
  1. Question – How does the vehicle avoid collision?
Response – Operation of the network is based on a synchronised system with fixed slots for each vehicle at prescribed headways. It requires the route to be identified from start to destination through all merges before the launch of the trip from the station. Each vehicle has a radar system, which keeps it a prescribed distance away from any other vehicle.
  1. Question – How many people will the project employ?
Response – About 100.
  1. Question – I note that this concept relies on proven robust technology. What sort of operating hours can it achieve, how will the batteries be recharged, and how much maintenance would be required on the track?
Response – Robustness is the important factor of the ULTra system. It can operate for 24 hours without having to recharge. To maintain the vehicles it would be necessary to take one off. The batteries are lead acid batteries and there would be opportunities for recharging at berth, i.e. at the station or the depot. These are all engineering details, which are currently being considered.
  1. Question – Has solar energy been considered?
Response – There is not enough area on the vehicle to take the power panels to drive the vehicle, however, solar power could be introduced at stations to supply a source for energy, particularly in the summer months.
  1. Question – The materials used within the pod are like bus fitments, taxis utilise vinyl seats for easy cleaning. Will you be looking at new vandal-resistant materials for use in these pods?
Response – The material choice is critical and we are currently looking at this. The aim is to keep it simple.
  1. Question – The idea of smart technology is good and to know who is utilising the system, however, I am worried about the element of social exclusion for those who do not utilise financial systems.
Response – I understand the point, however, we do not want to see misuse of the system and by ensuring that payment is done by smart card/credit card it gives us the opportunity to know who is utilising the system. One of the solutions in Cardiff would be to utilise a wider benefit card system.
  1. Question – How far do the batteries go between charges?
Response – The batteries can be charged at berth or at the depot. The system has been designed for peak usage – that is rush-hour period in Cardiff, and the stations can handle 500 people an hour with 90% of all passengers waiting only one minute for a service.
  1. Question – What other transport plans not outlined can provide an alternative solution in Cardiff?
Response – This is the only PRT system around although since the 1970’s some have been ideas on paper but have not reached development stage. We are 2-3 years ahead of everyone else. There are other systems such as Austrans, a high-speed system based on modified rail technology, which carries up to 9 passengers, and other systems, which carry larger capacities. There are no other personal systems like this one.
  1. Question – There is no other system that could be developed with 40m?
Response – No. The LRT system proposed for Lloyd George Avenue was to be three times the price. The National Assembly had evaluated the project at 150m. Private finance for the LRT system was very patchy and the figures did not stack up financially. The ULTra scheme is the only PRT system of advantage to the system. There is a list of other systems under test in the document published in the copy of the Municipal Engineer Journal circulated to Members prior to the meeting.
  1. Question – The aspiration to go anywhere is the only negative against the ULTra, but this versatility is the greatest advantage of the car.
Response – The evaluation undertaken by the DTR has suggested that up to 30% of current car users would be prepared to transfer to the ULTra system. The system is an automated personal taxi system with unique features and retains many of the qualities of the car-based transport including privacy, immediate access, and non-stop travel. It is not to replace the car but to be integrated as a complimentary network of public transport. The City has high-speed bus and train networks and this provides the opportunity for that part of the journey that is never well catered for.
  1. Question – The projected target of 50% of all passengers trips being delivered by public transport in the medium term is this a County Council objective and what is medium term and is this not over optimistic?
Response – This is a target aspiration. If the target is set lower, it is never achieved. It is a good target to go for in particular for the Cardiff Bay area.
  1. Question – How can vandalism be combated and users protected from people throwing things at the pod or onto the track?
Response – The problem of vandalism is one of the principal issues facing the system. Vehicles, infrastructure and control systems all include major features to combat this. Small items on the track will be moved out of the way by a “cow-catcher” arrangement, and CCTV will pick up any large objects that need to be removed.
  1. Question – How does the Smart Card System work and how can users be protected once inside?
Response – The pods when waiting on Stations the doors are shut. The risk period is very limited at a Station as pods will be freely available particularly at off-peak times and there will be CCTV coverage at Stations. We are also looking into inserting CCTV within the pod to ensure personal safety. The Smart Card will be able to identify users.
  1. Question – What will the charging policy be?
Response – As part of the questionnaire people were asked on what they would pay and this ranged from 1.50 to 2.00 currently projections are based on a charging policy of 1.00, however if the charge was to be more it would allow for more staff and more security. The ULTra is not aiming to compete against other forms of public transport and therefore the charges will have to be complementary.
  1. Question – The pods I understand are designed for peak periods of 500 people per hour how many vehicles is this?
Response – 160 vehicles should carry 5 million passengers per year, which would do the job of 40 cars.
  1. Question – It appears that the track will be a trough in the ground, how will people on ground level cross the track?
Response – The track way would be separate from any other thoroughfare and within the City Centre some of the pathways will be overhead. In other areas, investigations are being made to have a corridor alongside the LRT railway line.
  1. Question – Is there potential for some of the routes to be dual-use i.e., to run alongside a cycle route?
Response – A significant part of Stage 0 will be elevated and therefore could not incorporate a cycle route. There will be no mix of modes on the same track. There could be segregation of routes and discussions have taken place with Sustrans. Parallel routes on ground level could be considered but we would need to look at routes as there is a need for a network of routes and crossings.
  1. Presentation by John Dacey – "ULTra in Cardiff the Council's Prospective"
John Dacey detailed the key aims and objectives, problems and overall concept of the ULTra Project in Cardiff.
He stated that there had been a need to review as part of the Local Transport Strategy for Cardiff the supply and demand of transport options. In reviewing future strategies it had been concluded that:
  • the supply of road space no longer matched demand;
  • a modal shift public transport must be achieved;
  • vehicle emissions needed to be reduced;
  • economic and social regeneration of the area must promote integrated and sustainable transport frameworks;
  • there was a vital need for a plan of action and a funding mechanism.
In view of these difficulties the County Council, with the support of funding from the National Assembly for Wales, had worked with partners on a system that would offer a new approach to public transport in Cardiff. The aims and objectives of the development of the ULTra Project were to:
  • support Cardiff's development as a thriving and attractive European Capital City;
  • improve the quality of life and opportunities for people who live in, work in and visit the City;
  • address the needs of those people who are most disadvantaged;
  • protect, and where possible, enhance the new environment;
  • minimise harmful effects on the environment;
  • reduce air pollution from traffic;
  • provide services focussing on user safety.
Mr Dacey outlined the overall transportation concept for Cardiff, which included:
  1. The key highway corridors, including Eastern Bay link, and Wentloog St. Mellons link road; and proposals for an Ely Spur and re-assessment of the Thornhill M4 Interchange, which are currently being reviewed as part of the UDP process;
  2. Proposals for railway development including the link between the Coryton and Radyr with possible investigations into extensions to west and east Cardiff linking them with the City Centre;
  3. Investigating the old rail link to the west of the City to Creigiau and Pentyrch;
  4. Bus and Park & Ride Facility;
The Council is considering possible locations for park and ride sites as identified in consultants reports’ particularly in the north and east of the City;
  1. Cycle and Walking;
The Council has a published Cycling Strategy, which is currently being revised to take account of recent partner studies, to determine the Strategic Cycle network. A draft Walking Strategy has been prepared;
  1. ULTra concept would provide coverage within three distinct areas of the city, the Cardiff Bay area, the City Centre and the Civic Centre
These proposals had been brought forward following the lack of prospect of the introduction of the LRT system on Bute Avenue and had been considered to complement other forms of bus and rail travel. A phased implementation was proposed:
  1. Stage 0 – Cardiff Bay Railway Station link to County Hall, National Assembly for Wales and the Inner Harbour;
  2. Stage 1 – link between Cardiff Bay and City Centre;
  3. Stage 2 – extension to the City Centre (provision to be included in St. David’s Centre Phase 2 Project);
  4. Stage 3 – extension to the Inner Harbour Barrage;
  5. Stage 4 – future extension to the Civic Centre.

Mr Dacey advised that Stage 0 and 1 would cost in the region of 45m, part of which would be supported by a funding commitment from the National Assembly for Wales of 20m, the remainder would need to be found from private partnerships. It was proposed that although the National Assembly for Wales’s funding only covered Stage 0, that a tender would be prepared for the two projects, and the successful operator would operate at Stage 0 & Stage 1.

The Council would need to find a mechanism, which would deliver the necessary funding for this package, and this would include investigating the options for a possible public and private partnership between the Council and private organisations, which would create a Special Purpose Company (SPC) to deliver a Transport Partnership Approach (TPA). Partners could include construction companies, transport operators and funding bodies or enabling bodies. The SPC would need to raise for the whole project, between 300m and 400m to complete the infrastructure as proposed. It is likely to require a 25-30 year operated period for funding purposes. The Council in partnership with relevant stakeholders including the National Assembly for Wales, would need to agree ways to fund the necessary annual revenue payments (Unitary Charge) in return for the provision of the infrastructure and services.

To date, the Council had consulted with stakeholders and had appointed Consultants, and had received its report recommendations, which suggested the following ways of funding the project:

  1. using own assets;
  2. PFI credits for partnership projects;
  3. EU funding from innovative projects;
  4. modified Transport Grant funding;
  5. planning gain;
  6. workplace parking/congestion charges and road tolls;
  7. bond mechanism;
  8. cross-cutting revenue sharing options;
  9. private sector options.
Mr Dacey advised that the next stage was to prepare an OJEC Notice, which would request information, and from this, a timetable could be prepared for the procurement of partnership. This would take between 12 and 18 months to achieve.
  1. Statement by Councillor Robinson.
As part of my new portfolio responsibilities, I have considered the ULTra concept, and am impressed with the technology involved. The concept is built on sound industrial and environmental technologies, which have produced a sustainable concept, which will be with us for years. The project can work.
I have been disappointed with some of the debate on the project, particularly by those who do not fully understand the concept, or the issues. Cardiff’s problems are different from other areas in Wales, for example, Powys has 24 people per square kilometre, but Cardiff has 2,300 people per square kilometre. Newport is one third of the size of Cardiff. Cardiff is not unique, other cities in Europe have similar problems, and a number of these cities are watching what Cardiff is doing.
The ULTra proposal will not replace public transport. It is to offer an alternative convenient service for car users. Cardiff has done a lot to improve train and bus services, which are now more frequent and at a reasonable cost. This is beginning to influence choices made by the public on transport issues.
For me, the ULTra offers exactly what the car can offer me, I can now catch a train into the city centre and would use the ULTra to reach other areas of the city. There are issues to be addressed at the developmental stage, in particular, accessibility, safety and security and the issue of smart cards, but I remain a supporter of the project.

The Chairperson thanked County Councillor Robinson, Cabinet Member, Environment for this statement, and John Dacey, Corporate Manager for his informative presentation and then invited questions from Members of the Committee.

  1. Observation – I am concerned about the limits of the Smart Card. It does not allow for the casual user, i.e. the visitor, shopper to Cardiff, and I am concerned about the social exclusion issues, which could cause resentment and vandalism.
Response – I agree that the issue of social exclusion needs to be resolved and that the ULTra needs to be accessible. Consideration has been given to the use of cash and cards for payment for a fare. From a risk analysis technical assessment, it has been suggested that some form of recognition of the passenger would give some added security for both the user and the operator.
It is envisaged that the ULTra will be a tourist attraction in itself and will generate both jobs in construction and in maintenance. Negotiations are ongoing in finding a partner for Stage 0 and 1 of the project, and to ensure that Cardiff has the royalty rights for other system that is developed in the world.
  1. Question – The LRT proposals are of great priority to the UDP areas in resolving transportation pressures. Is there competition for funding, and can any funding be achieved from planning gain. Has any work been undertaken on the LRT route?
Response– Discussions on the LRT links have been undertaken with rail operators, in particular completion of the Circle Route. There are corridor opportunities on existing rail routes, which could be extended to the development areas.
  1. Question– Is it suggested that Lisvane and Pontprennau be linked to the Heath Valley Line system?
Response – Currently we are unsure where it will join. There are difficult engineering problems at the Heath Halt because of the height of the station. It is envisaged however, that the Lisvane/Thornhill route would go to the city centre parallel to the Valley Lines service.
  1. Question – What is the OJEC Notice for?
Response – The OJEC Notice is to be used to investigate opportunities of obtaining funding of approximately 400m of Transport Infrastructure. This will formally allow the private sector to comment and influence the actual partnership that we take forward.
  1. Question – What is the bond mechanism option?
Response – Raising bond funds is an option available to the Council for funding of the public private partnership.
  1. Question – Will advertising be allowed on the system and will this have a significant impact on the visual environment?
Response– No decision has been made on this.
  1. Observation – I am concerned that if its just Stage 0 that is developed, it will have a toy town image. The system needs to be professional.
Response – Our bid to the National Assembly for Wales was for Stages 0 and 1. However, funding has only been agreed for Stage 0 and it is on this that testing has been started. The Council, however, is working on a parallel public private partnership to develop Stages 0 and 1. It is important to develop an affective system, which is able to be integrated into other systems, not a Disney type tourist attraction. If this is not achieved it will be a waste of 20 million.
  1. Question – Where would the city centre terminuses be, and what is their footprint?
Response – It depends on the destination but it will be similar to what you saw on the test track, a small area of approximately 0-9 in vehicles, about the size of the bus lay-by outside the Castle.
  1. Question – Are there any other options of public transport being considered for the Bay, particularly in view of your target to increased demand for public transport by 50%? Does the fact that we are spending money on the ULTra mean that no other initiatives will be undertaken in the Bay area?
Response – The funding for ULTra is hypothecated a capital grant. Other services such as bus services are dependant upon revenue contribution, and if a bus operator wishes to run a service to the Bay, it needs to be commercially viable, or subsidised.
We have recently undertaken a survey of all County Hall staff on their transport arrangements, which is being analysed. The survey has been extended through the Cardiff Bay Business Forum to all businesses in the Bay. This will enable us to get a profile of journeys, as we are aware that not all people coming to the Bay wish to go via the city centre.
In Manchester they have a tram system, which connects, between the two main stations, this involved a 2-3 year plan to introduce this network because roads had to be dug up. The ULTra would have a separate ground level route and elevated track. The Transport Plan aims to have a train service providing five-minute headway routes into Cardiff, with Park & Ride at the railheads. This will provide access to the city and other connected services like the ULTra. The ULTra provides a huge chance to change the culture/patterns of transport. It will be an incremental change, and not a quick turnaround. We need to raise the profile of public transport and keep moving forward.
  1. Question– Can you clarify where the ULTra fits in as we have a lot of unfulfilled promises, for example the Eastern Bay Link, LRT on Lloyd George Avenue, which was never feasible. We don’t want the ULTra just ending up with Stage 0 and not getting as far as Stage 3 because its run out of money half way through. How can we avoid this?
Response– We have been pressing for the Eastern Bay Link for the last 10 years. We have prepared 40 different route options for the highway but the funding has still not become available. The road is vital and innovative ways need to be looked at for securing the funding. We are working on this. We are working on the public/private partnership and the OJEC notice will go out very shortly.
  1. Question – What about the other side of the river and the Sports Village? Is this Stage 5?
Response – The ULTra can be extended anywhere. There will be a large number of people entering the Sports Village complex and the ULTra could be used in collaboration with other public transport modes, such as Park & Ride. More houses are planned on the Sports Village site than originally. This makes the Sports Village an "origin" rather than a "destination", and it could therefore be more feasible to have a Stage.
The Committee was advised that Councillors from Penarth Town Council had attended the presentation made to the National Assembly and would be interested in an extension of the system to Penarth.
  1. Question - As Cardiff is involved in the development of the ULTra it should have a share of the royalties if expanded to other cities. Have you done any projections on the likely income and the likely employment opportunities?
Response - It is early days and some of this information is private information as part of the negotiation. It is anticipated that there could be up to 800 manufacturing and maintenance opportunities, and it is hoped that these jobs will come to Cardiff, however, this will not be our decision.
  1. Question – How will we obtain between 300m and 400m from the private sector?
Response – A lot of different facets will make up the 400m and they could involve all of those suggested partnership opportunities listed previously. It is proposed that a Special Partnership Project Company will be set up to move the proposals forward.
  1. Question – Am I correct in understanding that it will take 30 years to break even?
Response – No. The infrastructure will be in within 10 years and the revenue payback will be 20-25 years.
  1. Question – How will the ULTra help the worsening problems of inner city areas such as Plasnewydd, Cathays and Canton?
Response – In the first instance, we need to persuade people that they do not need their cars, particularly students who live in houses of multiple occupation and have between them four to five cars. The ULTra then provides a viable opportunity in overall journey planning.
  1. Question – It won’t cover these areas?
  1. Response – No, but radial bus systems and timetabling improvements will link up with the ULTra and provide a reliable and efficient transport option at a reasonable cost. One way of tackling problems with vehicles at houses in multiple occupation is to issue parking permits. We have discussed with the University ways of encouraging students not to bring their cars.
  1. Question – For Stages 0 and 1, you mention that there would be up to 160 units. How many units would be involved by the time we get to Stage 4 and what will the power requirement be?
Response – Each unit requires 2kw of power, which is fairly low consumption. For Stage 0 and 1, there would only be about 130 units on the system at any one time.
  1. Question – How will the system manage the power requirement?
Response – I can’t comment on this at the moment as we need to do some more detailed analysis.

The Chairperson thanked all of those present for their valuable contribution to this part of the Scrutiny process, and invited Members to comment on the issues and discuss a way forward.

The Committee raised the following issues in respect of:

  1. the ULTra
  1. the issuing of smart cards and possible social exclusion and difficulties for visitors;
  2. noted the aspiration as stated by the European Commissioner that 50% of trips would be undertaken on public transport in the medium term;
  3. that investigations be undertaken on parallel routes in certain parts of the city;
  4. concern about the rolling out of the project after Stage 0;
  1. Local Transport Plan
  1. concern about the unfinished schemes including Eastern Bay Link;
  2. the need to investigate further LRT, Park & Ride and dedicated bus routes to fit in with National Transportation Policies;
  1. Way Forward from the previous meetings;
  1. Invite Sue Essex AM Minister for Transport at the National Assembly for Wales;
  2. invite Alan Kreppel, Managing Director of Cardiff Bus to discuss alternative bus solutions;
  3. receive information from Bristol City Council on their scrutiny of public transport when completed;
  4. invite Tom Clift from the Valley Lines Railway to discuss future rail development;
  5. links with the UDP and Local Transport Plan, particularly in relation to developments in Pontprennau and Radyr.

In addition, Members discussed:

  1. whether there were any alternative schemes available, for example private taxi hire ‘go where you want’ schemes, such as UGO and ZINGO;
  2. the Committee noted that the Licensing & Public Protection Committee had recently considered a report on Taxi Hailing Points, and this had been forwarded to the Chief Traffic & Transportation Officer for further consideration;
  3. the need to consider the energy issues and the use of renewable resources.

AGREED – That at this stage the next steps of the scrutiny of this topic be as follows:

  1. as part of the ongoing scrutiny of this topic the Chief Scrutiny Services Officer undertake further investigation into alternative PRT projects or solutions;
  2. the Scrutiny Committee consider how the Unitary Development Plan links with the Local Transport Plan in relation to some of the issues raised;
  3. the following representatives be invited to future meetings of this Scrutiny Committee:
  1. Sue Essex, Minister for Transport at the National Assembly for Wales;
  2. Tom Clift of Valley Lines.


The Committee received a detailed report on its current work programme with a view to assisting them in discussing and agreeing agendas for forthcoming meetings of this Committee. The Committee noted items already agreed to be considered at its meeting on 16 July and discussed in detail items that were ongoing awaiting programming; issues previously selected to be scrutinised for future programming; and any other potential issues for Scrutiny.


  1. the current work programme be noted;
  2. the Chairperson in consultation with the Chief Scrutiny Services Officer discuss and agree agendas for the forthcoming meeting of this Committee;
  3. a further report on the Work Programme be submitted to the next meeting of this Committee.

paul cubitt.jpg (31092 bytes)

Cllr. P. Cubitt

Copyright Cardiff County Council 2002
Hit Counter