Tracks to the Cities

Light Rail for Liveable Cities


In countries where tramways had survived the massive closures of the 50ai??i??s and 60ai??i??s,

e.g. Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, many remaining systems have been modernised

and upgraded and may now be called ai???light rail systemsai???.

In many other countries, where tramways had disappeared from the streets,

completely new systems have been developed since the mid-70ai??i??s. This was the case

in North America, in the Asia-Pacific area and in a few European countries such as

the United Kingdom and France.

As a result, light rail systems can now be found on all continents. There are now over

400 light rail transit and tramway systems, in 50 countries. In addition, over 100 light

rail systems are being planned worldwide.

Economic Benefits for the Wellington Region

A successful city is one that works well for its citizens, businesses and visitors. That means having excellent public transport as the preferred means of getting into and across the central city. For the Wellington region, using light rail in the tram-train mode is the way to provide an integrated high quality public transport network.

Cities and regions that have adopted light rail have gained economic benefits. Typically, the international experience has been that following the introduction of light rail there was a significant positive economic impact on jobs and business revenues. In addition, efficient public transportation is a recognised method of improving productivity and enhancing access to employment opportunities.

Modern light rail systems now operate in hundreds of cities worldwide and have generally proved to be a catalyst for improving local public transport networks. Light rail has proven that it can encourage development growth in areas better serviced by public transport and compliment land use and tourism policies.

For this reason, internationally, it is often the business community that is at the forefront of encouraging the adoption of light rail. Overseas experience indicates that properties that benefit from improved access because of proximity to a light rail system increase in value.

Positive benefit-cost ratio to adopting Light Rail

The major impediment to adopting light rail is the initial capital investment butAi?? if Wellington were to adopt light rail there would be a positive benefitai??i??cost ratio. The principal economic returns from adopting light rail would be:

  • Reduced congestions costs. Road congestion now imposes huge costs. These costs are faced by motorists directly but also by taxpayers who bear the cost of funding ever more roading infrastructure.Ai?? By relieving congestion pressures and eliminating the need for roading projects, such as the Basin Reserve Flyover, light rail would effectively fund itself!

  • Maximising the effectiveness of the existing rail network. Tram-trains would allow the full potential of the investment already made in the suburban rail network to be realised. This investment amounts to many hundreds of millions of dollars. The electrification and double tracking to Waikanae and the new Matangi Units would be even more valuable if greater rail use were encouraged by extending the reach of the rail network through tram-trains.

  • Reduced numbers of buses. Typically, a light rail is the equivalent of 4-5 buses

Light Rail Transit in Hamilton: Health, Environmental and Economic Impact Analysis

Hamiltonai??i??s historical roots as an electric, industrial and transportation-oriented city provide it with a high potential for rapid transit, especially when combined with its growing population, developing economy, redeveloping downtown core and its plans for sustainable growth. This paper explores the health, environmental, social and economic impacts of light rail transit, a component of the City of Hamiltonai??i??s rapid transit initiative. It performs a comparative analysis with other major North American cities that have successfully implemented this form of mass transit. The analysis concentrates on three main areas: urban development and land values, health and environmental impact and socioeconomic factors. The results of the research on light rail transit (LRT) and its possible benefits indicate overwhelming support for the economic, health, environmental and social benefits of LRT, especially when compared to other forms of transit, including rapid bus and local transit schemes. According to the results, LRT in a medium sized, growing city such as Hamilton should be considered a viable and desirable transit option; a catalyst for transit oriented, high density, mixed use development; an economically sound investment opportunity, providing a return on investment to property owners, businesses and the municipality; and a catalyst for social change, improving the health, environment and connectivity of the community.

Light rail achieves local and national objectives

In Delivering A Sustainable Transport System, the Department for Transport explains that it aims to be modally neutral and to encourage policy which focuses on achieving the Governmentai??i??s objectives; supporting economic growth; tackling climate change; contributing to better safety, security and health, promoting equality of opportunity and improving quality of life. It is clear that light rail could play a vital role in achieving these objectives, for the following reasons:

ai??? Trams improve the image of a city and contribute to economic regeneration.Ai??A new tram is a visible, permanent way of showing that an area is being invested in for the future. It attracts businesses and tourists, and helps people access jobs and services. When KPMG was advising GMPTE on the Greater Manchester funding package, they ranked schemes against regeneration and jobs, and on this basis high density public transport such as Metrolink extensions came out best

ai??? Trams reduce congestion in city centres by providing people with a quick, reliable, high-quality alternative to the car. They can reduce road traffic by up to 14%

ai??? Trams help tackle climate change. Travelling by tram produces only a third of the CO2 produced from travelling by car

ai??? Trams improve local air quality because they run on electricity so donai??i??t produce any pollution at the point of use. They are very safe and quiet, and they make cities nicer places to be

ai??? Trams are very popular and encourage people to leave their cars behind. The number of people using trams has increased by 52% since 1999. On average, one in five peak hour passengers on UK trams previously travelled by car. At the weekends, half of the tram passengers used to travel by car. At least 22 million car journeys a year no longer occur in the UK because of trams. This means that trams are an effective way of cutting carbon emissions and congestion


One Response to “Tracks to the Cities”
  1. eric chris says:

    Trams are affordable and complement the community. Skytrains are unaffordable and destroy the community:

    Really, skytrain is a crime against humanity. Maybe the only way to rid Metro Vancouver of skytrain and the ones who are exploiting taxpayers to become rich from the skytrain (overkill for transit) is legal action: