Thursday, August 14, 2008

Return of the Streetcar

For fans of LRT - and we are legion - it is very good news indeed that no less than 40 American cities are looking at re-investing in long gone or non-existent or minimal streetcar systems.

Not that the uber-planners in Victoria would ever consider such good sensible ideas.

Read the NY Times story and hope and email your local elected dope.


Light Rail Guy said...

The streetcar of today is very different from the streetcar of yesterday.

- Helsinki, just built 5 km of new streetcar (streetcars are LRT) for Euro 15 million or CAD $23.6 million or CAD $4.72 million a km.! Compare that with almost $200 million/km. for SkyTrain.

- Helsinki's tram (streetcar) system carries over 20,000 persons per hour per direction (pphpd) one one downtown route, during peak hours. Compare with SkyTrain, which can't carry 15,000 pphpd without a $3 billion upgrade!

- In Karlsrhue, Germany, one can board a streetcar in the downtown and alight in Heilbronn, some 150 km. away, with the streetcar operating on-street; on a reserved rights-of-way (LRT); and as a railway train, track-sharing with the mainline railways! Compare with SkyTrain, it can only operate on a massively expensive segregated rights-of-way and is compatible with no other railway!

- The Kong Kong tramway's (those quaint double-decker streetcars) CARRIES OVER 80 MILLION PASSENGERS ANNUALLY! Compare with SkyTrain, with almost $6 billion invested with the metro, barely 70 million passengers annually use it, with 80% first taking a bus to use it.

- In Spain, a new streetcar line cost under CAD $7 million/km to build, including cars! Compare with SkyTrain where $7 million would buy you 70 metres of guide-way, without cars!

- Streetcars can travel at 30 second headways. Compare with SkyTrain, which even 1 minute headways pose a problem.

- Streetcars come in all sizes, from small metre gauge 2 axle affairs, to large, multi-axle articulated vehicles, with a maximum capacity of 350 persons (Strasbourg's 'Jumbos').

- Streetcars can climb 10% grades with ease (Sheffield, UK); in Lisbon, their 'heritage cars' (see above) climb 13.7 percent grades. compare with SkyTrain where the system doesn't like steep grades at all!

- Streetcars can travel as fast as 100 kph.

- AND STREETCARS OPERATE WITHOUT PROBLEM IN THE SNOW! In the Great Blizzard's in Denver last year, the LRT/streetcar only stopped operating because there was no passengers to take. No one could reach the streetcar! Compare with SkyTrain, where one flake of snow causes panic and.......... you know the rest.

David in North Burnaby BC said...

" ... it is very good news indeed that no less than 40 American cities are looking at re-investing in long gone or non-existent or minimal streetcar systems."

I'm not so sure. In canerduh, the best way to destroy an idea is to identify it with the Great Satan to the south. It might be viewed more favorably if say, North Korea, or Albania were investing in such an approach imho.
Don't get yer hopes up too high. ;-)