Quizz Time!


Lisbon tram climbing a steep grade!

Here are ten questions to test your knowledge of transit mode and issues.

Passing grade is 70%.

1) What is Light Rail Transit?
2 ) What is metro?
3 ) What is capacity?
4 ) What grade maximum is now the industry standard for light rail?
5 ) What is the maximum grade that LRT/tram climbs (by adhesion) in revenue service today?
6 ) After the introduction of ‘busways’ in Ottawa, ridership changed by how much?
7 ) Approximately what percentage of operating costs of a transit system can be attributed to wages?
8 ) Approximately how much ridership is lost per transfer?
9 ) Are automated (driverless) transit systems cheaper to operate than non automated transit systems?
10) What is the maximum capacity of the largest light rail vehicle today, calculated at all seats filled and standing passengers at four persons per square metre?


1 ) LRT is a transit mode, generally electrically powered, able to operate in mixed traffic, that can economically carry between 2,000 and 20,000 persons per hour per direction.

2 ) Metro is a grade separated transit mode, electrically powered, built for average hourly ridership loads in excess of 15,000 pphpd. LRT can be operated as a metro, though a metro can’t operate as light rail!

3 ) Capacity = vehicle capacity and  headway (trains per hour per direction).

4 ) 8%

5 ) 13.8% (Lisbon, Portugal)

6 ) A decline of ridership of 15.7% from 1986 to 1997 (OC Transpo)

7 ) 70%

8 ) 70%

9 ) No, studies have found that LRT is cheaper to operate, when comparing equal systems.

10 ) The URBOS 3 CAF tram holds the world record for being the world’s longest rail runner (55.9 meters) – Capacity 330 people (By comparison, four Mk.1 SkyTrain cars have a capacity of 300 persons!)

CAF Urbos (Caterpillar), in operation in Budapest.


5 Responses to “Quizz Time!”
  1. Haveacow says:

    Not to nit-pick but number 6 is very misleading. Yes, from the opening of the Transitway in 1983 ridership system wide dropped from 83 million to about 67 million in the mid 1990′s however it was the loss of female riders in the suburbs which mainly was the cause. Riders who were at the time, far, far away from any part of the Transitway. Actually I would assert that, the Transitway actually kept the rupture of riders leaving transit down, not making the situation worse at all. I still say though, a LRT line instead of our BRT Transitway Network would have brought transit’s numbers higher far, faster.

    During this period, the number of female government workers increased dramatically. Due to pay equity court cases many low and medium level women working in management levels throughout the federal government had their wages grow, closing the gap but not always matching their male counterparts. The first thing they did was buy a car, and then a new suburban house in Orleans or Kanata. Divorces and single mom lead families also soared at the same time.

    This was made more obvious by many male (mostly male anyway) tech people leaving government jobs getting high tech sector research jobs in Kanata (The western Ottawa suburb which is still the single largest high-tech techno-pole in Canada). At one point (approximately 1998-2001) more people were working for high-tech research development jobs for various large high-tech companies in Kanata than the federal government. The massive high tech campuses many of these jobs were located at were far from most bus lines.

    Several federal studies showed a massive increase in the number of cars per family during this period. By 1998 the total numbers of cars in the National Capital Area had almost doubled compared to 1982, even though the population only grew by 60%. This had the effect of driving down system wide bus numbers, even though passengers numbers on the actual Transitways were exploding. The massive twice a day bus jams on our central Transitway Network started during at this time (pictures of which are available from this website).

    Zwei replies: The number came form Karmen Hass-klaus’s study, Bus or Light Rail: Making The right Choice, which is now over 20 years old.

  2. Haveacow says:

    One other comment, the CAF URBOS 3 is not only the longest single LRV (Light Rail Vehicle) available, but this 9-section light rail vehicle is just a single car and can be put into 2 or 3 car trains.

    The main things that limit the length of longer individual LRV’s other than sheer cost are the expected maximum passenger load of a line, extreme vehicle length can confuse sensors and accidentally trip the switching time of automatic track turnouts (track switches), voltage and current limits of the electrical infrastructure, capacity of existing vehicle storage and maintenance buildings, maintenance staff and equipment cost limits and actual maintenance time/cost limitations (which are also big issues with the Skytrain system).

    Zwei replies: I was told that operating a longer single car was cheaper than operating a coupled set.

  3. Haveacow says:

    Other limitations on longer LRV’s is street block lengths for surface lines and street geometry.

    Zwei replies: In North America this could be a big problem but in Europe, most cities do not have a grid system of roads.

  4. Adam fitch says:

    That was an interesting quiz. Did you have an agenda?

  5. Haveacow says:

    Zwei is right, It is cheaper to operate a single longer LRV than a coupled set of shorter LRV’s provided that, your track and turnout geometry of your existing mainlines as well as the vehicle maintenance/storage centre facilities and track can handle the longer vehicles. Secondly, your surface road system and intersections (if it is a surface LRT line) not to mention stations need to have the right fit and geometry to be able to handle the longer LRV’s as well.

    For example the TTC in Toronto had to build the Leslie Street Barn because the existing streetcar barn on Queen Street and the even older Roncesvalle shops didn’t have a maintenance area large enough or sufficient storage space for all the new Flexity LRV’s. This would have seriously over-burdened the D. W. Harvey Heavy Streetcar Shop.

    Here in Ottawa, a surface LRT through the city’s core was seriously considered over building a tunnel however several of the old downtown blocks which date from the 1830′s to 1860′s were far too short to handle 97.3 metre long trains (each train has 2, 48.65 metre long cars). So the tunnel was chosen.

    The sheer number of office building driveways, parking garage entrances and loading dock driveways that could be blocked when the trains stopped for stations or the occasional traffic light (surface rail software can’t and shouldn’t eliminate all red lights) caused too many issues for planners. Due to the short block length and a far too low height restriction in downtown Ottawa, we have a huge number of shorter squat office towers along each major east-west street in the core, which produces a huge number of garage and service entrances to deal with.

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