Archive for October 21st, 2009

Dublin’s LUAS LRT – A streetcar without subsidy, a template for the Broadway LRT?

October 21, 2009

There is much to learn about Dublin’s LUAS LRT or tram system and the ability to operate and make an operating profit is completely lost on TransLink, it’s bureaucrats and BC’s current lot of tax and spend politicians. SkyTrain is hamstrung by massive construction and operating costs and the annual subsidy to operate the metro exceeds $230 million a year! Compare this with the EU grant of $129 million to get the LUAS project under construction!

So when TransLink comes knocking at your municipalities door for more and more taxes to pay for their pet SkyTrain light-metro system, your municipal councilors should – MUST tell TransLink NO and tell them in no uncertain terms plan for affordable light rail instead.

For the SkyTrain lobby and their $4 billion plus fantasy about a Broadway SkyTrain subway to UBC; dream on, it is not going to happen any time soon.


Dublin’s Luas (Irish for ‘speed), Light Rail System, is a light rail or tram system serving Dublin, the first such system in the decades since the closure of the last of the Dublin tramways. In 2007, the system carried 28.4 million passengers, a growth of 10% since 2006.

There are currently two Luas lines. The Green line commenced operations on 30 June 2004, while the Red Line opened on 26 September 2004. It is one of 450 light rail systems operating in cities around the world. As of 2008, the system has 36 stations and 25 km (15 miles) of track.

The Luas is operated by Veolia Transport, under tender from the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA). It is a major part of the Dublin Transportation Office’s strategy (2000–2016). There are currently two extensions to the existing lines under construction, while several more extensions as well as new lines are at the planning stage.

Construction work began in March 2001 on the Tallaght to Connolly line, as well as the Sandyford to St. Stephen’s Green section of the second line, with Ansaldo of Italy and MVM of Australia getting the contract to build the system. The development of the Luas Red Line was facilitated by EU funding of €82.5 (CAD $129.1 million) million under the European Regional Developmen Fund (ERDF) and part of the cost of some proposed line extensions (e.g. over 50% of Line B1 to Cherrywood) is being raised though levies on development in areas close to the projected route.

The original launch date for the Luas was to be 2003, but delays in construction saw this date pushed back by a year. An advertising campaign took place to inform the public of the development of the system, while construction was taking place. Construction finished in February 2004 and a period of testing and driver training began. 30 June 2004 was decided on as the official launch date of the Green Line. The first tram went into service for the general public at 3 pm. Several days of free ridership and a family fun weekend took place to launch the system. The Red Line opened on 26 September 2004, with six days of free travel for the general public.

By November 2006, over 50 million journeys had been made on the system. Around 90,000 Luas trips are made each day (total 28.4 million in 2007). To date, the busiest day on the Luas system was Friday December 21, 2007 when 145,000 passenger journeys were recorded.

Luas operates without a State subsidy. The service recorded a surplus of €985,000 (CAD $1,542,000) –  €680,000 (CAD $1,064,000) in 2004 – an achievement well ahead of an anticipated deficit of €2.5 million (CAD $3.9 million).