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Old Posted Dec 25, 2014, 7:46 PM
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What would it take to build a tram network the size of Melbourne’s?

What would it take to build a tram network the size of Melbourne’s?


DEC 22, 2014

By ALAN DAVIES

Read More: http://blogs.crikey.com.au/theurbani...of-melbournes/

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Melbourne is fortunate it inherited the largest tram network in the world, because building something like it today – say in a city such as Sydney – would be extraordinarily expensive and difficult.

- If Melbourne’s tram network had been removed in the 1950s and 60s like similar systems in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and many regional centres were, it would be astronomically expensive to build something like it today from scratch. The cost of rolling stock alone would be in the region of $3 Billion. --- Based on the actual $1.6 Billion it cost to build the newly opened 13 km Gold Coast G:link line, a network the size of Melbourne’s could have an all-up cost in the region of $30 Billion. Or if we extrapolate from the estimated $2.2 Billion it’s taking to build Sydney’s new 12 km CBD and South Eastern Light Rail system, the all-up cost could be in the region of $45 Billion.

- Of course these are ‘light rail’ rather than ‘tramway’ systems i.e. most of the network runs in its own right-of-way, whereas around 80% of Melbourne’s network shares road space with other vehicles. --- However if Melbourne were building a new system today from the ground up – or if (say) Sydney sought to build something of similar size – it would face the same sorts of pressures to provide a much better and more costly network (e.g. with more segregation from traffic) that other cities are experiencing.

- Melbourne’s trams carry around 4% of all motorised passenger trips per day in the metropolitan area. A brand new system built to a higher standard should do better, perhaps 5% or even 6% when completed. Melbourne trams do much better though in their key “market”: this is (a) trips to work (b) in the city centre made by (c) inner city and inner suburban workers. --- Around 15% of all CBD workers in Melbourne arrive by tram, as do 12% of those who work in Southbank and Docklands. This is where trams do best; more than half of all the work journeys made by tram are to these three geographically tiny locations. Moreover, up to 25%-30% of commuters living in inner suburbs like Brunswick, Northcote, Albert Park and Kew travel to work by tram.

- There’re two important messages here. One is that Melbourne is extraordinarily fortunate that it retained this asset when other cities removed theirs (Sydney’s network was actually larger than Melbourne’s). It was assembled incrementally over 100 years, almost all of it in eras when the politics of construction in built-up areas was easier than it is today. --- The other is that providing rail-based infrastructure is extraordinarily expensive to retrofit into established areas relative to the impact it has on car use and traffic congestion. It’s difficult to see how “just build more infrastructure” is a viable strategy for coping with projected population growth in major metropolitan areas.

- City policy-makers will have to think much harder about ways of managing the demand for travel in cities rather than accepting all demand should be catered to. They’ll also need to focus on how to extract much more value from the legacy infrastructure they’ve fortuitously inherited. Future expenditure on what will surely be a relatively limited number of new major infrastructure projects will have to be highly targeted; no more boondoggles or “nice to haves”.

.....



Melbourne has the largest tram network in the world; makes these US streetcar systems look anemic. Source: Matt Johnson (LHS), Rob Amos(RHS)


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  #2  
Old Posted Dec 25, 2014, 7:59 PM
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Scrape off three to five inches of asphalt pavement from the streets of any number of older American cities... Bam! Instant tram network larger than Melbourne!
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Old Posted Dec 26, 2014, 1:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Busy Bee View Post
Scrape off three to five inches of asphalt pavement from the streets of any number of older American cities... Bam! Instant tram network larger than Melbourne!
either that or build a time machine!
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Old Posted Dec 26, 2014, 8:29 PM
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Generally speaking, any tramways built in the 21st century should at the minimum be in a segregated lane. That was a problem with those built in 19th century or the early 20th century. By mid century, they were competing too much with other traffic and became ineffective. We remember fondly the days of streetcars in our cities but we forget how slowly they operated in their last years. My mom spoke of the days when she worked before she was married. The most direct route was by streetcar but she always took a less direct bus route because it was faster. It is sad what we lost in most cities but it was inevitable. The real tragedy was the way public transit and downtowns were allowed to deteriorate in so many cities.

Yes, it will be impossible to replace the streetcar infrastructure of the early 20th century, but in most cases, would we really want it now? What was slow in the 1940s and 1950s would be even slower today. It would be much more cost effective in improving our bus networks except on selective corridors where a degree of right of way segregation is possible and passenger volumes warrant the capital cost.
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Old Posted Dec 26, 2014, 10:45 PM
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buses are equally good no?
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Old Posted Dec 26, 2014, 11:40 PM
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buses are equally good no?
no
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  #7  
Old Posted Dec 27, 2014, 8:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lrt's friend View Post
Generally speaking, any tramways built in the 21st century should at the minimum be in a segregated lane. That was a problem with those built in 19th century or the early 20th century. By mid century, they were competing too much with other traffic and became ineffective. We remember fondly the days of streetcars in our cities but we forget how slowly they operated in their last years. My mom spoke of the days when she worked before she was married. The most direct route was by streetcar but she always took a less direct bus route because it was faster. It is sad what we lost in most cities but it was inevitable. The real tragedy was the way public transit and downtowns were allowed to deteriorate in so many cities.
Melbourne's tram network is very slow, I think the average speed of a tram (across the entire network) is around 16kph.

But like what Alan writes in the article - 4% metro-wide figure is deceptive (as the network only serves the inner city and bits and pieces of the middle ring) - the network has fast sections in the new areas where tram lines have been extended.

Your point on the slowness of road-based rail travel is an apt one, but the question that really needs to be asked is why do we still prioritise the private vehicle?

To my mind one of the most effective changes that can be made in Melbourne - to speed the network up, both at a local and network-wide level - is to implement proper priority for trams like they have done in places like Geneva: tram approaches signalised intersection and red lights show for cars on roads crossing the tram lines and thus tram gets faster priority through intersections.

Perhaps more of a local issue rather than one that would be in other cities around the world, is that the exsiting tram routes through the north especially were built on roads where the cross section looks like this:

|Footpath|Car through/Parking Lane|Shared Car/Tram Lane|Shared Car/Tram Lane|Car through/Parking Lane|Footpath|

The Car through/Parking Lanes are generally what slows trams down: the old school retailers in the older strips in Melbourne claim they 'rely' on their customers to be parked directly outside their shop and removal would mean no business for them and it's one of the biggest barriers for us.

In many places the shared through/parking lanes are clearways during peaks, but they switch back to parking lanes outside of peaks - many of the inner city councils don't seem to want to get on board with street-redesign.
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Old Posted Dec 27, 2014, 5:45 PM
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Melbourne also kicked off cars from one of it's main downtown streets to give it priority.
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Old Posted Dec 28, 2014, 3:38 AM
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Doing it in the centre of the city is a no brainer and really not that much of a deal, the real problem is the whole network outside the CBD within a 5km-10km ring.
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Old Posted Dec 28, 2014, 5:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tayser View Post
Melbourne's tram network is very slow, I think the average speed of a tram (across the entire network) is around 16kph.

But like what Alan writes in the article - 4% metro-wide figure is deceptive (as the network only serves the inner city and bits and pieces of the middle ring) - the network has fast sections in the new areas where tram lines have been extended.

Your point on the slowness of road-based rail travel is an apt one, but the question that really needs to be asked is why do we still prioritise the private vehicle?

To my mind one of the most effective changes that can be made in Melbourne - to speed the network up, both at a local and network-wide level - is to implement proper priority for trams like they have done in places like Geneva: tram approaches signalised intersection and red lights show for cars on roads crossing the tram lines and thus tram gets faster priority through intersections.

Perhaps more of a local issue rather than one that would be in other cities around the world, is that the exsiting tram routes through the north especially were built on roads where the cross section looks like this:

|Footpath|Car through/Parking Lane|Shared Car/Tram Lane|Shared Car/Tram Lane|Car through/Parking Lane|Footpath|

The Car through/Parking Lanes are generally what slows trams down: the old school retailers in the older strips in Melbourne claim they 'rely' on their customers to be parked directly outside their shop and removal would mean no business for them and it's one of the biggest barriers for us.

In many places the shared through/parking lanes are clearways during peaks, but they switch back to parking lanes outside of peaks - many of the inner city councils don't seem to want to get on board with street-redesign.
The story is the same in Toronto, which is sort of the North American equivalent. The old legacy lines run in mixed traffic while the lines from the 1990's to today run in exclusive lanes and run significantly faster and arguably more importantly, they run much more reliably. Reliability issues are huge for the mixed traffic lanes.
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Old Posted Dec 28, 2014, 1:48 PM
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I think what's so enviable about these extensive networks isn't the fact that they're streetcars (which, in Toronto at least, are frustratingly slow during the day), but rather their potential to become instant LRT network at little cost: Toronto or Melbourne could decide to make some of their streetcar lanes exclusive tomorrow with nothing more than paint, some plastic bollards and police enforcement.
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Old Posted Dec 29, 2014, 1:57 AM
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Originally Posted by mrnyc View Post
either that or build a time machine!
My time machine is not quite ready, but someone just made a Youtube post of 1953-54 16mm films of streetcars in Dallas, Cleveland, St. Louis, and Atlantic City and the interurban in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

http://youtu.be/6Pj2VEdqEHM
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Old Posted Dec 29, 2014, 8:01 PM
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My time machine is not quite ready, but someone just made a Youtube post of 1953-54 16mm films of streetcars in Dallas, Cleveland, St. Louis, and Atlantic City and the interurban in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

http://youtu.be/6Pj2VEdqEHM
Thank you for sharing. The Atlantic City streetcars were particularly distinctive.

A couple of things I noticed from this video. How light the traffic is by today's standards. Running streetcars in mixed traffic (except legacy systems) where traffic is heavy would be a mistake today if you are trying to build a real public transit system. You are asking for reliability problems, speed problems and inevitably accidents, which will simply block the system. Accidents must have been an increasing issue in the 1950s. I have read a report on the demise of streetcars in my city and the reasons were more complex than most people realize.

The other thing I noticed was the number of private right of ways. What happened to them? Those parts of a streetcar network were very effective and were a big loss when buses replaced the streetcars. I know there are some private streetcar right of ways here that were converted into parks and now that LRT is being built and planned, it is impossible to reclaim those right of ways for modern LRT.
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Old Posted Dec 30, 2014, 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by dc_denizen View Post
buses are equally good no?
No they are superior - they can share the road with cars and trucks and match their speeds, they can drive around obstacles, they don't rely on a huge expensive wire system and they can be made as large or as little as route, time of day or events demands.



Trams were scrapped for good reason - it was inferior to the bus in terms of flexibility, it was dangerous since it couldn't manouver, it was slower than metros and trains and it relies on a large network of high voltage cables that limits heights for all other vehicles
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Old Posted Dec 30, 2014, 2:05 AM
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Trams can still take more people where on the busier routes it prevents such roads from being too clogged up with busses.
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Old Posted Dec 30, 2014, 6:43 AM
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Trams can still take more people where on the busier routes it prevents such roads from being too clogged up with busses.
I've never been to a city where the trams impressed nor seemed anything but a gimmick..

As for number of passengers I'd say that you get can a lot more people into 100m of double decker buses than in 100m of trams

And the buses fits in traffic and can turn and drive around things without any problems or need for wires or track..


I really don't see anything positive about trams - as I see it they went away for a reason and seems to be only kept in some places for historic reasons
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Old Posted Dec 30, 2014, 1:58 PM
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I've never been to a city where the trams impressed nor seemed anything but a gimmick..
You should definitely visit Strasbourg and Bordeaux, then.
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Old Posted Dec 30, 2014, 2:49 PM
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Or Amsterdam (third largest network in the world, after Melbourne and St Petersburg).
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Old Posted Dec 30, 2014, 6:37 PM
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Have these cities segregated trams from regular traffic to some degree?

European cities are also older, and denser which discourages car travel especially in the city centres and making trams more competitive. This is not generally the case in North America. Toronto's legacy streetcars are iconic, very well used, and a major part of the urban fabric but those lines operating in mixed traffic are slow, slow, slow. You wouldn't build this today.
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Old Posted Dec 31, 2014, 12:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FREKI View Post
I've never been to a city where the trams impressed nor seemed anything but a gimmick..

As for number of passengers I'd say that you get can a lot more people into 100m of double decker buses than in 100m of trams

And the buses fits in traffic and can turn and drive around things without any problems or need for wires or track..


I really don't see anything positive about trams - as I see it they went away for a reason and seems to be only kept in some places for historic reasons
lol. weird.

There are 182,700,000 reasons why Trams are a positive for Melbourne.

Come to Melbourne and stand on the corner of Swanston Street and Collins Street, you'll see a tram go past on average every 20-30 seconds on Swanston Street - where 9 separate routes converge through the centre of the city - and trams every 1-2 minutes minutes crossing Swanston Street on Collins Street.

The streets have been redesigned so as cars keep well clear of tram tracks and the speed a tram can travel is much higher, and the average capacity of the trams which operate the 13 separate lines that cross that intersection is about the same as 1.5 double decker buses (New Routemaster: 80, B-Class: 110-120).

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