The Ignorance Of Light Rail Knows No Bounds – Distinctly In Vancouver

It is sad that anti-tram journalist, Francis Bula, writes such tawdry articles about transit and by doing so, demonstrates that she does little or no research and repeats the anti-tram myth.

Citing Jarret Walker as a renowned transit expert is stretching it a bit, as he is a bloggist, catering to the anti-tram crowd. He is merely a planner and lacks that core knowledge which a European degree in Urban Transport would bring and offers yesterday’s solutions to try to solve today’s problems.

Zwei has never liked the term “streetcar” as it it brings visions of clanky and rattlely vehicles trundling down city streets, while trams give a vision of modern low-floor articulated vehicles, operating mostly on dedicated rights-of-ways.

The modern tram; designed to grow with ridership, giving affordable transit solutions to cities in the 21st century.

It is the modern tram that has rejuvenated transit planning in the past 30 years and bringing livability to the 21st century city.

As early as 1984, it was recognized that the simple and flexible tram was a good solution for congestion and pollution in major cities. Mature city planners opted for transit systems that had a good record of providing efficient servcie and rejected the expensive and gimmicky “gadgetbahnenn” style light-metros or monorails.

Vancouver’s SkyTrain is a good example. An over hyped proprietary mini-metro with limited capacity, extremely expensive to build, operate and maintain,Ai?? has bamboozled local politicians, planners,Ai?? and most journalistsAi??for almost 40 years and continues today!

The mythical “rapid transit’ again raises its ugly head from the swamps of ignorance, as the great solution for transit, but there is no definition of “rapid transit’ other than it is not light rail and that is good.


Mr. Bracewell, at the city engineering department, said

Ai?? “We see the need for rapid transit to UBC. A streetcar is not rapid transit.”

Sorry Mr. Bracewell, the modern streetcar or tram, operated as light rail has a greater capacity than our so called rapid transit and is far more user friendly than our Rapid Transit, which I guess is SkyTrain and costs a fraction to build. What don’t you get?

The modern tram on a dedicated R-o-W.

That our universities are turning out engineers and planners so ignorant about modern public transport is appalling, but the very same engineers and planners remain so ignorant about LRT is equally appalling.


The Modern Tram in Essen

Special to The Globe and Mail

The City of Vancouver is studying ways to ensure it keeps its options open for a network of streetcars in the future, despite the irritation the vehicles have generated among travellers in some cities.

The transit vehicles operating on electricity have been maligned by some in Toronto for slowing traffic, but in Vancouver, the city is about to hire outside consultants to study what needs to be done to ensure that no new building projects or road changes shut the door to a future streetcar line.

The line would run down Arbutus Street and around False Creek to Yaletown, Chinatown, the central waterfront and Stanley Park. A streetcar line likely wouldn’t appear on Vancouver streets inside of a decade. The line would need to be approved by regional mayors in the next 10-year plan of the regional transportation authority.

“There are places in the city where something higher capacity than a bus would be good,” said Dale Bracewell, the city’s manager of transportation. Powered by electricity, streetcars are better for the environment and quieter than buses, he said.

Streetcar fans also argue that they are great additions to the city, because people like taking them and they tend to attract new development around them.

“Streetcars are place makers. They are an urban benefit,” said Anthony Perl, an urban-studies professor specializing in transportation at Simon Fraser University. They’re not the magic solution for all transit problems, Prof. Perl said, but they’re a part of a complete system in mature cities.

Streetcar systems, which were once common throughout North America, almost disappeared in the 1950s as cities chose to hand over road space to cars. Only a few cities, such as Toronto, New Orleans, La., Boston and San Francisco retained some lines.

But they’ve become popular again with civic authorities in the past two decades, with new lines being installed in places as diverse as Atlanta, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., and Portland, Ore.

But those new lines have sparked some public backlash, as the ridership has not met expectations in many places, with Portland’s successful system being a notable exception.

Renowned U.S. transit expert Jarrett Walker has said that cities need to examine the case for streetcars more carefully. He argues that, even when streetcars attract more riders than the bus lines they replaced, it’s often because cities make huge improvements to the streets they’re on.

Toronto went through a debate earlier this year about its streetcar system, after a city hall committee suggested keeping the line on Queen Street closed for an extra two weeks beyond a planned shutdown for renovations to study whether buses would be more effective.

Drivers often gripe about being stuck behind the streetcars, while riders sometimes complain that the streetcars get so slowed down by traffic that walking is faster.

Toronto just started a pilot project with its King Street line that gives the streetcar priority and limits car drivers to being able to travel for one block on the street. That has significantly improved travel times.

In Vancouver, the proposed study for a future streetcar, whose bid deadline closes on Tuesday, is meant to update work that has been going on since the early 1990s in streetcar planning in the city. The city is asking for consultants doing the new study to look at a possible connection between the streetcar line and the planned Broadway subway.

It’s something that the city’s most ardent streetcar advocate welcomes. “This could be the beginning of a network,” said University of British Columbia professor Patrick Condon. “And to put this system in, which is greenhouse-gas-zero, is a good direction. It’s a promising direction.”

He said streetcars do much more than just transport local residents. “Studies show a million tourists a year are likely to use it.”

Prof. Condon hopes that Vancouver engineers will also study the feasibility of streetcar lines that have been suggested in the past. One is along the Fraser River from Arbutus to the city’s eastern boundary. The other is from Arbutus Street, where the first phase of the Broadway subway now being planned is scheduled to terminate, out to UBC.

But Mr. Bracewell, at the city engineering department, said neither of those is part of the current study. “We see the need for rapid transit to UBC. A streetcar is not rapid transit.”


One Response to “The Ignorance Of Light Rail Knows No Bounds – Distinctly In Vancouver”
  1. eric chris says:

    First mile. Last mile. People tend to commute 30 minutes. That’s it if you’re a normal person who has a life and can’t be bothered to spend hours each day on “rapid transit”. It can take 30 minutes to reach “rapid transit” and another 30 minutes to hike it from “rapid transit”.

    TransLink’s “rapid transit” quadruples the distance between stops and the time to reach public transit but only doubles the speed of public transit, maybe. Rapid transit traveling at 40 kph in the subway isn’t fast. Commuting by e-car at 100 kph is fast.

    “Others, like second-year arts student Vivian Thieu, also expressed relief in being able to avoid taking the SkyTrain during peak periods. It’s crowded, especially during the times when school ends, she said. It takes forever to get on the platforms, and it’s hot and sweaty.” [It’s slow].

    Tram service having many stops spaced closely together makes public transit fast. First mile. Last mile.

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