A recent comment about Ultra Light Rail deserves an entry in the Rail for the Valley Blog. Though I do believe that ULT is not applicable for the 90 km. Valley Interurban, where larger vehicles are needed, Ultra light rail could have applications in specific niche areas in Metro Vancouver such as a downtown Vancouver to Stanley Park Link, Granville Island tram (tracks in situ), or a Davie St. Denman St. circulator. Certainly ULR could be used in tourist sensitive cities such a Victoria or Kelowna.
The following is from:
Cost-effective, Sustainable, Public Transport SystemsSustainable Transport Company Ltd (SUSTRACO)
ULR is a intermediate transport system that uses self-powered or externally powered trams with or without some form of energy storage.Is a cost effective alternative to Light Rail, Guided Bus and Bus Ways (BRT) for many routes.
Carry traffic of 350 – 9,000 p/h/d and have “tramway, LRT, BRT and Guided Bus characteristics” it is able to mingle with pedestrians, negotiate historic city centres with , narrow streets.
All this for a cost that is between 75% and 30% less then standard LRT systems.
It is low cost because:
- Vehicles use automotive and tram type technology/ economy of scale through standardisation.
- There maybe no external electrification, overhead wires, sub-stations, and cables.
- It is thus easier to route and find cheaper more attractive alignments.
- It uses a number of lower cost innovative track technologies .
- It can use standard, off the shelf, not specifically designed components.
- Services (gas, electricity, telephone, water pipes etc.) do not have to be relocated.
- It can carry more people per driver than a bus.
- One driver can move more people in a given time than is possible with a bus on congested roads.
- It uses substantially less energy per passenger than a bus.
- Trams last a lot longer than buses.
- Stops are the same as bus stops.
- It only needs a bus type depot and bus-operating organisation.
- The public see it as a tram giving a superior quality service.
- It is a fixed link system showing commitment whilst retaining its flexibility.
- Significant environmental benefits.
- Stimulus to development.
- Easy level access to low platforms
- High safety levels.
It also provides:
ULR is a novel concept but it uses well-established technologies. The principle is similar to the “streetcar” approach now being adopted in many US city centres in reaction to the high costs of conventional Light Rail, and may include the advantages of energy storage.
It can be powered by any locally produced sustainable energy such as:-
Biogas (from organic waste), Fuel Cells, Ethanol (from sugar) , Green Electricity (Wind, Wave, Sun, Hydro etc), SUSTRACO works with the local community to identify the most sustainable long term fuel .