HERE’s my take on the report into the “rapid transport system” planned for the north Essex garden communities.

The evidence starts with lots of ambitious claims made about a modal shift (that’s consultant “speak” for motorists leaving their cars at home voluntarily to take a bus).

Instead of getting in our cars for 70per cent of journeys (as we now do) we will only rely on them 30per cent of the time - even though this hasn’t happened anywhere else in the UK (even in towns with far better public transport systems than us).

Because that doesn’t mean it can’t happen here – right?

And the super-speed bus will help that happen because it will start from year one of the development and will run every eight minutes.

I’m not sure who will operate this system yet, but clearly someone with a lot of spare cash as it will be the biggest money pit known to any operator ever in the history of buses.

Here in Wivenhoe, our bus service runs from Brightlingsea, (population 8,000) through Wivenhoe (population 7,500) to Colchester, but there isn’t demand for any more than four buses an hour.

The proposed garden community site will have 7.5 buses an hour to serve (in the first year a community with only 300 homes), a population of less than 1,000.

There is lots of talk about traffic segregation and bus priority, but the number of alternative routes speaks volumes.

There isn’t a credible solution. Could there ever be without tearing down houses and shops to make way for wider roads?

This report is, in areas, even vaguer on detail than the last three produced by the same consultant. (All paid for by us, by the way)

They do at least admit “there are other constraints beyond just reallocation of road space, such as listed buildings, environmental and design considerations and impact on residences”.

The claims about segregation and traffic prioritising are left without detail.

On a cost basis, all the previous operating options have been ruled out.

Remember the picture of the tram in the last consultation document?

That’s out. So is rail, light rail and guided buses. They are all too expensive.

Trackless trams are mentioned as an option. That sounds sexy, doesn’t it?

And compared to a bus, it most certainly is. It does have one clear advantage over a bus in that it can carry more passengers.

But that won’t be relevant for 50 to 100 years. That’s a serious guess based on the build rates and therefore the demand.

But we can’t afford the trackless trams either. Not entirely sure why they are even mentioned.

Perhaps to sweeten the pill with a bit of undeliverable spin.

The report then goes on about cycling and walking and quality of life and health issues.

All great stuff, but I fear it is only there to pad it out with good intentions.

Then there is this little gem: “The development will seek to discourage car use by limiting provision of car parking”. Oh fab!

And then: “There will need to be constraints on car park charging”, meaning they will hike the prices up to try and discourage people using them.

So who will go into Colchester town centre, rather than drive to Ipswich or Clacton?

Let us cut to the chase. There is a map that shows all the alternative routes, the best of which still has less than half its route as a new segregated lane

But it does involve carving up the central reservation of Clingoe Hill and putting in five or six lanes for a large section of its length.

Whatever route they chose you still have to get through the magic roundabout or the one at Tesco.

So, the bottlenecks that chokes the road all day long and can’t be changed is still there.

It’s worth making the point that the funding bids, that will hopefully pay for the rapid transport scheme, were done by Essex County Council - the same people that have redesigned the Harwich Road, Ipswich Road and St Botolph’s roundabouts recently without dedicated bus or cycle lanes.

If they gave a monkey’s about sustainable transport, wouldn’t they have done something more sustainable with these routes?

But of course, the best way to stop car usage is via a congestion charge.

Fear not as that’s not being proposed. Not even considered

Because the public won’t like it and that may mean those that impose it won’t get re-elected.

There are lots of references to the park and ride scheme, except hasn’t Essex County Council confirmed its scheme is failing and is costing it a bomb to subsidize?

I don’t want to pour water on what are noble aspirations, but what I do resent is being offered something totally undeliverable and being expected to believe it might just happen.

Experience tells me that promises get diluted, not improved.

Statements like “the rapid transport scheme will be operable with electric vehicles” annoy me, because they don’t say they will be electric vehicles and therefore reduce all pollution. Just they could be.

On to the cost. It could be anywhere between £38.4million and £65.1million on the eastern route, (there are two others costed in the report).

We have a Housing Infrastructure Fund bid in for £65million.

However, that also has to pay for the link road. And there are no guarantees we will get the whole, (or even any), of that sum. I would suggest it would be best to only hope for the rapid transport light version for now.

It’s also worth noting “the capital costs shown do not include the provision of park and ride sites, and do not explicitly include costings for specific structures or the land acquisition costs”.

Now I conceded that finance isn’t my gift to the world, but isn’t that a bit dodgy?

I forgot to mention the fourth route, for peak times only.

It’s unsegregated and goes all round the houses on the A120 to get to the park and ride somewhere near Brook House Farm by the A12.

I imagine it is quicker in the rush hour than through the centre of town to use this route and so is included.

The end to end of the route, from the garden community to the park and ride site in the north, varies from 27 to 37 mins depending on the investment in the scheme.

Google seems to think it is still quicker to drive.

It doesn’t matter that we haven’t got the money, because the phasing of the work means we can pay as we go.

And the end date for delivery is 2051. Flipping heck, that certainly isn’t rapid.

If you add all three garden community schemes together, the overall cost for transport is between £229.8million and £323.1million.

I’m not sure where all that money is all coming from, but they do say loan arrangements can be considered.

Next up is the forecasts for revenue and operational costs. In the beginning it runs at a loss and then by the end (2051), they reckon it will make a profit of £14.5milllion a year.

But be reassured by this quote: “Cost estimates presented in this report are based on modelling work in which it has been necessary to make a number of assumptions”. No kidding!

It is worth winding back a bit in time and asking – what did the inspector ask for after the last hearing?

He said: “Both a realistic range of costs for the rapid transport scheme, and the sources from which those costs will be met, need to be identified.”

We have sort of done that. But can it have “a directness, journey time and convenience benefit over the private car from the very beginning to realise this potential”, as the inspector asked for. I very much doubt it.

He also said to provide “a feasibility study which investigates whether such a network could actually be delivered”.

We quite simply haven’t got the money to, so we can’t.

You can always go and read the summary of the document yourself to get the other side of the story. It’s at and the sassy title is: EB/079 Rapid Transport System for North Essex - From Vision to Plan - July 2019.