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


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.



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6 Responses to “On-street Light Rail – Streetcars & Trams – How would it look?”

  1. Tappen Says:

    So a Light Rail system with Right-of-Way on Broadway would leave… 2 lanes of traffic in either direction? One each way as traffic and the other as parking in non-rush hour. Have I got that right? With bike lanes on 8th and 10th. That hardly seems apocalyptic.

    Zweisystem replies: If LRT/tram were to be built on Broadway, there would be 1 traffic lane in each direction and one lane for parking or traffic during peak hours. The traffic lane used for LRT/tram would increase capacity from about 2,000 pphpd with auto traffic to over 20,000 pphpd with light rail. The ultimate conversion for Broadway would be 2 bicycle lanes.

  2. John Says:

    ….and people shouldn’t forget about Grandview/12th Ave for car traffic.

    I think this is an inspiring vision for the future – it would be great if a truly organized “sister-campaign” to Rail for the Valley emerges for a Broadway LRT/Tram!

    I’m sure it would have the backing of Broadway merchants all along the line. I hope Gregor Robertson and Vancouver council are listening.

  3. zweisystem Says:

    It’s just not Vancouver John, but it could be how the interurban would look like in Langley and Abbotsford. Both cities could have shopping precincts, easily accessible by the ‘interurban’ that could rival Vancouver’s.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Abbotsford already has really wide roads where they could sacrifice lanes. And it’s not like they don’t like digging the roads up, they’ve dug Clearbrook up about 5 times in the last couple of months.

  5. John Says:

    Oh yes, I agree entirely.

    Seeing is believing. I think once one town in the Lower Mainland adopts on-street LRT/trams on a major scale, they will be a much easier sell throughout the valley.

  6. Bruno Says:


    I started a facebook group is support of light rail on broadway to UBC instead of skytrain/heavy metro:


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