Archive for November 27th, 2009

On-street Light Rail – Streetcars & Trams – How would it look?

November 27, 2009

The following are streetscapes and street cross sections of modern LRT (streetcars or trams) operating on-street and will help many to visualize how a modern tram would look on a typical city street in Vancouver, Langley, Abbotsford and even Chilliwack.

The above picture shows a pure streetcar setting with cars and trams sharing a common road. Simplicity and affordability are the keynotes in this type of light rail planning. Streetcars suffer from being stuck in auto traffic flows which reduce commercial speeds but still a tram operating on-street is about 10% faster than a bus using the same route.


The above two pictures shows the next step forward, a tram operating on a reserved rights-of-way on a one-way street. Operating on a reserved rights-of-way means that the tram is now light rail and can achieve faster speeds between stations increasing commercial speeds as there is no auto impediment. Also, when a tram stops at a station, it does not impede motor traffic. The tram route offers one tram line, to lanes for vehicular traffic, a parking lane, a bicycle lane and two spacious sidewalks for pedestrians.


The above picture illustrates a streetcar or tram, operating as light rail on a reserved rights-of-way on a narrow city street. Auto capacity is restricted but the capacity of the two tram lines have the potential to exceed 20,000 persons per hour per direction, far greater than the ,1600 to 2,000 pphpd capable on the two auto lanes. By installing a tram or light rail on a city street, has increased the potential capacity of the auto lane by over 18,000 pphpd!

Contrary to the doom and gloom of the SkyTrain lobby, this is how Broadway could look with modern light rail, a vibrant pedestrian friendly, cycle friendly and merchant friendly street; a place where locals, out of towner’s and tourist will want to frequent.