Trams are coming to a city near you!
Some interesting news from across the pond. Urban transit development in the UK has been hamstrung by a very powerful and vocal ‘Roads Lobby’, within the central government (not unlike the SkyTrain Lobby in Victoria), which has all but stopped light rail development in the UK. In an era of peak oil and global warming, that the transportation department still advocates for bigger and wider highways in the UK, boarders on the ludicrous. Even converting little used railways lines into TramTrain or LRT, face horrendous roadblocks created by the British Government’s bureaucracy, while road oriented transit schemes (BRT) face little hindrance for implementation.
Like the UK, what is needed in BC is a level playing field for transit and transportation projects and not the litany of half truths and deceptions that follow BC’s penchant for the SkyTrain light-metro; a mode almost universally rejected in Europe and North America. TransLink’s shrill claims about SkyTrain during the Olympics are laughable, for the ever higher ridership numbers on the SkyTrain and Canada Line could be easily handled by light rail. Also, Zweisystem wants to correct the false impression that light rail systems can’t operate 24 hours a day, like the automatic and driverless SkyTrain. The fact is LRT can operate 24 hours a day, if demand warrants, and many LRT operations around the world do.
Automatic metros, like SkyTrain and RAV, must stop for signaling maintenance daily, or face a prospect of train stoppages during revenue service and is another reason why automatic operation, both being expensive to install and maintain, is only used on the heaviest used metro routes, which needs close headways to increase line capacity.
For public transit to become a force in dealing with urban congestion and to be an attractive alternative to the car, it must be built quickly and operate affordably, something which is impossible with light metro. A good example is the City of Surrey, which has been told it must wait 38 years for an extension to the SkyTrain light-metro system!
The region needs a level playing ground for transit planning and funding and the public, for once, must be informed honestly on both the pros and cons on light rail and light metro. Until this happens in the region, TransLink will still be steaming full speed a head, on a collision course with a financial iceberg!
TransLink steaming full speed into a financial iceberg.
From the Light Rail Transit Association
February 23, 2010
All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group (APPLRG) report :
The report which is being launched today (15.00, Tuesday 23rd Feb) at an event at the Grand Committee Room, Westminster Hall in Parliament is the outcome of an inquiry chaired by Rochdale MP, Paul Rowen and a panel consisting of:Tom Harris MP (Glasgow South), Graham Stringer MP (Manchester Blackley), Clive Betts MP (Sheffield Attercliffe), Lord John Attlee and Baroness Hanham. Members of the Inquiry met three times in the Autumn of 2009 to consider evidence and hear from twenty five witnesses including the LRTA. The transcripts of the inquiry sessions can be found at the inquiry web hub at:www.pteg.net/PolicyCentre/LRInquiry.
The key recommendations of the report include:
- the biases against light rail schemes should be removed from the appraisal process
- the DfT should provide more leadership on light rail, including a dedicated funding stream and a centre of expertise
- the Government can assist in cutting the high costs of moving utilities associated with new light rail schemes
For local transport authorities promoting light rail schemes
- trams should not be promoted in isolation but should be fully integrated into wider transport, economic, regeneration and environmental strategies for changing cities for the better
- the benefits of integration that can come through the tools available in the 2008 Local Transport Act should be explored
For the light rail sector
- the multiplicity of players, in what is ultimately a small industry, should raise their game through a single, co-ordinated and effective body which will act as a single voice for the industry as well as establish cross-industry standards which can help drive down costs
The report highlighted utility costs as a potential ‘quick win’ in bringing down the costs of new tram schemes.
Paul Rowen MP said: “There’s little argument that modern trams can help get cities moving and transform the urban realm. However, progress on bringing the tram back to city streets can too often get bogged down in circular arguments about process and costs. Our report provides a way out of the impasse with practical recommendations which we will put to the transport leads for all three of our main political parties.”