Originally Posted by lrt's friend
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.