Myth Busting!

It seems that the same tall tales about modern LRT are being told is Sydney Australia, that are being told in Vancouver and Surrey. Like always. a lie often repeated soon becomes truth, well the following sets the record straight, but will the public remain deaf to the truth all depends on the amount of money spent by the SkyTrain Lobby on printing rumours, half-truths and lies.

Myth Busting

Trams in the City will cause more traffic congestion.

lightrail-fasttramThis is a scare story. The Truth is Light Rail will operate in one lane only, and that lane will be the current bus lane, while moving four times the number of people as a bus.  In comparison, buses will be constrained to operate in all the road lanes.

Trams will always stay in their lane unlike buses which are constantly frog-hopping around each other and taking up 2, 3 or even 4 traffic lanes in the City.

The streets are too narrow.

No they’re not. The space require to operate a tram is less than a bus, not more.

Witness other cities in Europe that have really narrow streets, and still manage to operate trams eg Lisbon or Amsterdam.

Trams are stuck on one route.

With a carefully planned transport system this is not a problem. Trams are designed for high capacity corridors terminating in major junctions / hubs. They move large numbers of people very well.  Any system would need to be fully integrated with buses servicing the lower capacity areas and the suburbs.

Trams can run in pedestrian areas and malls, on road and on railway track making them an extremely versatile transport option.

Buses can carry more people than light rail.

This is simply not true. A Light Rail vehicle has three to four times the capacity of a standard bus.

If we could replace four of the buses heading down George St at peak hour with one tram, there would instantly be less traffic congestion. Half empty buses trying to deliver people to Circular Quay contribute to peak hour traffic in the city.

Tram travel is also more friendly to the disabled, elderly and families and it gives a more comfortable, smoother ride.

Trams are slower than buses.

The travel time for a tram is the same as other modes, quicker if given traffic light priority. Such priority for buses is not possible as there are simply too many of them. Trying to move a great number of buses through many intersections is even more difficult, when one bus stopping often blocks other buses travelling shortly behind. Trams are also quicker because you can load and unload in a fraction of the time of a bus.

Buses are cheaper and sufficient.

Buses cannot cope with the high demand of Sydney CBD, adding more buses will accentuate the problem.  Light Rail is a high capacity, efficient mode perfect for big cities.

People don’t like to interchange between modes.

People don’t like sitting in traffic only minutes from their destination or unreliable journeys either.  Given the overwhelming benefits Light Rail will deliver, people will interchange.

We have researched this issue with the people of inner Sydney specifically, explained the project and the need to interchange, and asked them what they thought. 85% of those that responded said that they thought the benefits outweighed the inconvenience.

Interchange is a key part of networks in all leading cities – in fact some are designed around it. It is OK in Paris, London, New York, Singapore and Hong Kong, why not in Sydney?

Interchange is the only way to cope with high passenger volumes in constrained spaces. And, people do it every day in Sydney. Country trains terminate at Central, and people interchange. Bondi junction has an interchange. If the transport system is reliable, interchange works – ask the Swiss people whose train system is designed around interchange.

Light rail’s track system and overhead cables make a mess of city streets.

The overhead cables are extremely unobtrusive.  They currently run through the pedestrian precinct around Haymarket and up to Central Station with little concern. Overhead cables running a clean system are always going to be more aesthetically pleasing than high levels of pollution and noisy traffic jams.  If this really is a problem, new light rail technology allows trams to run without overhead wires, picking up from an underground feeder, eg Bordeaux.

In many cities, well-designed tram vehicles are seen as adding visual appeal to the urban landscape.

Light rail is NOT cleaner for the environment.

Trams ARE cleaner than petrol or diesel buses. Tram vehicles create no pollution at all in the city, reducing smog and improving air quality, not to mention little or no noise pollution.

Powering a Light Rail vehicle creates one third of the amount of pollution as the world’s most environmentally friendly bus, and the energy created by the tram’s braking system is fed back into the electricity grid.  Electricity can easily be sourced from Green supply such as wind and solar.

A tram route can move up to 12,000 people in one hour; that’s a lot of cars and buses off the road. The simple fact that one tram can take four buses off the road, means that they create less pollution.

We had trams in Sydney and they were removed because they didn’t work.

This is not why they were removed. The Sydney tram system was a victim of its own success. Trams were taken out of Sydney because they were too well patronised with passenger journeys peaking at 405 million per year in 1940s. That is double the current number of passenger trips provided by Sydney Buses. Keeping in mind that most trams had seating for only 45 – 80 passengers, trams became very crowded.

Sydney had one of the largest tram systems in the world. It was an extremely busy network with about 1,600 trams in service at any one time at its peak during the 1930s. As a comparison there are about 500 trams in Melbourne today.

Overseas “transport experts” were called upon to advise the city and they recommended closure of the system to be replaced by buses. Closure generally went against public opinion. Nevertheless, closure became government policy and the system was wound down in stages, with withdrawal of the last service, to La Perouse, in 1961.  All the major Sydney bus routes in the inner city are old tram routes.  The same recommendation was made in Melbourne, but the City’s leaders refused to accept it, and they have since moved on to develop and promote their iconic network.

A new integrated Light Rail system cannot be compared with the trams of yesteryear. If the previous network was reinstated it would offer an extremely comprehensive and sensible transport option for Sydney. Given that the new light rail vehicles have a capacity of 200 passengers, 400 million or even 800 million passenger trips a year would be not only feasible but also a practical and efficient way to provide environmentally responsible mass transit.

http://lightrailextension.metrotransport.com.au/myth-busting/

Comments

One Response to “Myth Busting!”
  1. eric chris says:

    Good article, trams are efficient, people friendly, economical and remove toxic diesel exhaust from the city where it impairs the health of residents living on transit routes, especially. Moreover, trams replace buses. An extensive and accessible tram network might encourage a large number of drivers to take transit. This cannot be said of the SkyTrains and B-Lines operated by TransLink in Metro Vancouver.

    Vehicle use has exploded since TransLink implemented regional transit (SkyTrains and B-Lines with limited stops and stops spaced far apart in distance). Few with cars are interested in taking a bus to a SkyTrain or B-Line stop to double the commuting time. All the “extra” buses moving transit users to the B-Line and SkyTrain stops in Metro Vancouver are increasing road congestion, air pollution and transit costs.

    TransLink has built up its ridership with frequent bus service and late night service to move students more often throughout the day. This is analogous to a 24 hour supermarket which might result in more transactions by the same number of people rather than a smaller number of transactions by the same people if it stayed open for just 15 hours daily. TransLink is crap.

    TransLink has built a very costly and inefficient transit system. Drivers aren’t interested in using SkyTrains and B-Lines in a big way. TransLink has had to coax students with almost free bus passes to fill its B-Lines and SkyTrains. SkyTrains and B-Lines are a failed transit strategy and these students are merely creating pollution which would not normally be occurring if transit service were reduced to reasonable levels.

    Trams with closely spaced stops are the only thing that will turn transit around here to lower costs and get more “drivers” onto transit to reduce the unit cost of transit and the pollution in the city. Putting students on transit does the opposite, but it is the only the way that the clowns at TransLink can increase ridership to save their skins and to keep their big salaries. TransLink is a big zero run by zeros.

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