In early 1993, CILT published a critique of the government's current 'Red Route' policy for London (Smith, 1993), which seeks to increase traffic flow along strategic 'priority' roads by means of redefining and properly enforcing parking restrictions. CILT's own proposals build on the concept of 'Priority Routes', but with the emphasis on priority for people, not individual vehicles. These 'Green Routes' would be characterised by public transport priority: high-quality, dedicated lanes and active traffic-signal priority. The capacity of the road for moving people would increase, even if vehicle capacity were reduced. A second stage to the development of the 'Green Routes' could be the introduction of street-running trams. CILT's report proposed that a demonstration project be set up.In cities across the world, light rail (including street-running trams) provides an efficient, attractive and clean, medium capacity form of transport. Light rail has the ability to attract more people to public transport than do buses on their own, with a consequent benefit for society and the environment. Many people who would never consider using a bus are quite happy to use a rail-based system; ten per cent of Manchester Metrolink's passengers are former car users (Local Transport Today, 1994). Light rail is also cheaper to build and operate than metro systems, which means that it can be implemented more quickly and extensively in times of financial constraint.
It is against this background that CILT set out to consider the rôle street-running trams might play in the context of London (see Wood, 1994). This process included a number of continental case studies, from which lessons can be learned which apply to street-running light rail anywhere.
Public transport in the Amsterdam region is the responsibility of gemeentevervoerbedrijf amsterdam (GVBA), except for railway services which are run by the state railway (NS). A total of 17 tram routes are operated, covering 130 double-track km, plus the Sneltram route 51.
The Sneltram line was opened in 1990 and uses high-floor light rail vehicles to link the new suburb of Amstelveen with Amsterdam Centraal via the metro tunnel. The Amstelveen section runs along the middle of a dual-carriageway road and is shared with ordinary trams on route 5, requiring dual-height platforms at stops. The vehicles are dual-voltage, taking power from overhead supply on the tramway section and from a third rail on the metro section. It is now planned to build a Sneltram ring line around the central part of the city, to open in 1997. Further plans include links to the eastern and southern suburbs and a north-south line under the city connecting to Sciphol airport. Early next century the metro trains are to be replaced with Sneltram units, on which the regional system will then be standardised.
Amsterdam follows the Dutch national ticketing system. The basis for this system is the 15-unit strip ticket (Strippenkaart), a concept taken from München. Thus, single tickets are sold at a premium, weekly travelcards at a slight discount and monthly travelcards at a greater discount. The fare structure is zonal and tickets can be purchased at a wide range of outlets. Revenue is allocated between GVBA and NS by means of data from travel surveys.
Wherever possible trams run on segregated rights-of-way. This is usually along the centre of streets, with, typically, one driving lane each side and parking bays between that and a cycle track and the footway. The public transport right-of-way is frequently raised c. 75 mm above the level of the surrounding carriageway, otherwise it is protected by a line of round-topped kerb stones on either side. In some places, one side of the carriageway is reserved for public transport, operating in both directions, and this is GVBA's preferred solution. On narrower, non-segregated route sections, tram tracks are placed in the middle of the carriageway, allowing cyclists room between them and the kerb (or parking). GVBA's trams are only 2.3 m wide, allowing them to use narrow streets which would be impractical to serve with buses, or wider trams.
In the old, central part of the city, general traffic is made one-way in many places, allowing double tram tracks and a single traffic lane. The City of Amsterdam plans to reduce road traffic by up to 50%. Options include improving public transport, providing better and better-segregated pedestrian and cycling facilities, and restricting cars, particularly by greater use of one-way systems. GVBA interpret this to imply more trams in the central area, as these are easier to combine with car restrictions. When the existing level of tram route protection was introduced it was contentious, but it is now popular.
The City's aim is for traffic priorities to be in the order: 1st, pedestrians; 2nd, cyclists; 3rd, public transport; 4th, cars. As far as cyclists and public transport are concerned, this has already been achieved to a great extent, particularly compared with British cities. Almost all junctions in the city have traffic signal priority for trams. Those few that do not have only short delays associated with them. However, there appears to be a great deal of work remaining to be done before pedestrians are in fact at the top of the list.
A number of streets in the city centre are pedestrianised or have only restricted vehicular access. The most famous of the latter is Leidsestraat, where pedestrians share a quite narrow (c. 10 m) space with trams, delivery vehicles and (illegally) cyclists. Trams operate on interlaced track, separating to double track at stops located on the three canal bridges that punctuate the street. The street is approximately 600 m long and the interlaced track sections are each about 150 m long. No signalling is required as trams wait at the canal-bridge stops, from where their drivers can see the full length of the interlaced section ahead, until the track is clear.
GVBA is proud of Leidsestraat as an example of the successful integration of trams with pedestrianisation, which would have been impossible with buses. The alternative had been suggested of putting trams underground here, but the present solution brings people to where they want to be at street level. This success was confirmed by TEST (1991), whose study demonstrated that pedestrians perceive little threat from the vehicles using the street.
Despite the fact that cyclists are not supposed to use the street, they do so in quite large numbers (which demonstrates that Leidsestraat is an important and natural corridor for them), apparently without problems for themselves, pedestrians or trams. Indeed TEST (op .cit.) noted that unauthorised cars, vans and motorcycles appeared to be kept to moderate speeds by the presence of large numbers of cyclists. Tram speeds varied between 17.32 and 22.84 km/h in the TEST study.
Public transport within the City of Göteborg is the responsibility of a section of the city traffic department (Göteborgs Trafikkontor) called Stadstrafiken, with services operated under contract, principally by the local-authority-owned Göteborgs Spårvägar (GS). Nine tram routes are operated on 153 single-track km, 74&37; of which is separated from all other traffic, 15&37; reserved lanes on street, usually shared with buses, and just 11&77; unsegregated on street.
In the central part of the city, reserved track along the centre of streets is paved with asphalt or stone setts for visual impact. It is protected either by a line of kerb stones on either side, angled on the inside so that buses and emergency service vehicles can leave the lane should it become blocked, or by being raised c. 100 mm above the general traffic lanes.
In the city centre, cars have been successfully restrained since 1970 by means of a traffic-cell system (Elmberg, 1972; TEST, 1988), such that it is not possible for traffic other than public transport, taxis and pedal cycles to travel across the city centre, similar to the low-impact ideas in the Buchanan (1963) Report for the U.K., and those developed for CILT by TEST (1986) for parts of central London. This has given room for public-transport-only streets and improved stops and interchanges, in a near-pedestrianised environment.
Traditionally, public transport in Göteborg has covered c. 30&37; of its operating costs from ticket receipts. The present political administration wishes to see this rise to 50&37;, partly as a result of significantly reduced local authority receipts and a desire to pay off the city's debts. 45&37; has been achieved so far. This cost consciousness led to a study of the relative costs of running trams and buses, with a view to possibly abandoning or reducing tram operation considerably. The study's conclusions were that, whilst tram abandonment appeared to give reduced costs in the long term, it could not help the current financial problems facing the city; significant savings could be made by increasing operating efficiency in the existing fleet; and if tram operation is to continue, new vehicles need to be bought, with a decision in 1997 at the latest (Domstad, 1994). At the end of the 1970s, Göteborg's trams seemed to have a secure future, but GS' then managing director warned of the political risks of not maintaining a tramway properly (Elmberg, 1979).
In common with the Stockholm and Malmö regions, Greater Göteborg completed negotiations on the future of its transport system in 1991, agreed more formally in 1993. Large-scale public transport investment is planned, including new funds from central government and diverted road-building funds. The list stands in contrast to the cost-cutting that Stadstrafiken finds itself having to do in regard to operations: the tramway is to be upgraded, natural-gas powered buses are being purchased, a new, improved vehicle control, signal priority (trams already have priority at all traffic signals) and passenger information system (KomFram) is being introduced, more bus lanes are being provided, regional rail is being improved, park-&-ride and regional interchange is being extended and novel passenger transport systems are proposed (a largely elevated, automatic mini-metro in a ring around the southern inner city and a 'personal rapid transit' system). Göteborg has now realised that it does not have the money for its share of the cost of either of these extremely expensive schemes, although studies towards a pilot P.R.T. system are still in progress. A logical solution might well be to use the government money earmarked for the automatic mini-metro ring to buy new trams and radically improve the existing public transport, but this is not allowed under the terms of the agreement!
County Council-owned Storstockholms Lokaltrafik (SL) is responsible for all local public transport in the county of Greater Stockholm: buses, a metro system, suburban trains operated under contract, two suburban light railways and two suburban tramways - all that is left of the original Stockholm tram network. These use four-axle trams and trailers built between 1944 and 1952 (many cars refurbished since 1983) to feed the metro.
Greater Stockholm also completed negotiations on the future direction for metropolitan transport in 1991-2. Agreement was reached between the three major political parties on a programme of road and rail investment for the region, to be complete by 2005. However, there are still areas of disagreement between them, particularly on two major road schemes and the details of road tolls. Public money, including diverted road-building budgets, will go to investment in public transport infrastructure. At the same time, large-scale road-building is to be embarked upon, financed by tolls on the roads coming into Stockholm. The tolls are to be introduced in 1997 and are intended to divert traffic onto the ring-road (part of which will be financed by the tolls), reducing inner-city car traffic by 25-35%. In the city centre, road space is to be diverted to use by public transport, cyclists and pedestrians. Part of the public transport money is to fund part of an orbital light rail line, linking the inner suburbs in a horse-shoe ring, using street and segregated alignments. The first stage of this is expected to begin operation in 1998. Of particular interest, however, are developments in the city centre. A public transport priority network is being planned, to be fully implemented by 1998, which will provide buses with a high-degree of segregation from other road traffic and traffic-signal priority and real-time information.
The aim is to have as simple a route network as possible, with direct routing of buses and bus stops every 400-500 m (200-300 m now). It is intended that average service speed (including stops) should go up from today's 13-15 km/h to 18 km/h. As well as traffic-signal priority, reserved lanes are to be provided in the centre of streets. Bus stop boarding areas are to be extended out into the road wherever possible to allow buses to position themselves properly and to improve passenger safety. Parking enforcement is also to be stepped up. Interchange points are to be improved and the standard of comfort in buses is to go up. Space is to be increased; distinctive, low-floor, multi-door articulated buses are to be used and the ticketing system is to be rationalised. Sharp curves are to be minimised by careful alignment of bus lanes. Both the visibility of the system and passenger information are to be improved by better stop facilities (including real-time information), bus lanes marked clearly with the route numbers that use them and improved destination displays on the buses, both internally and externally. The design will allow for possible conversion to trolleybus or tram operation in the future.
One move towards tram operation has already been made. In conjunction with the City of Stockholm, which introduced bus lanes along the middle of Strandvägen in the east of the city centre, the Swedish Tramway Society has rebuilt the old tram line no 7, called Djurgårdslinjen, between Norrmalmstorg and the recreational area Djurgården, in the street. Most of the line is of modern construction and buses using the reserved alignment enjoy traffic-signal priority. Preserved trams are run on the line, but it is hoped that the line will be extended, perhaps initially to Stockholm's central railway station, and be operated by modern, low-floor trams, as a pilot for tramway conversion of the public transport priority network. Modern trams were demonstrated on the line in 1991.
Public transport in the City of Oslo is the responsibility of AS Oslo Sporveier (OS): trams, buses, ferries and two kinds of metro system. The 'eastern' metro lines are built to full-metro standards and one of the 'western' lines has been converted to full-metro, inter-working with the most lightly-trafficked 'eastern' line under the city centre. The remaining 'western metro' lines are upgraded suburban light rail lines, with at-grade road crossings traversed on-line-of-sight, operated with metro-style cars. Seven main tram routes operate in Oslo, mostly on street-track, but with two lines using former suburban light rail tracks in full segregation outside the inner city. One of these shares tracks with part of one of the 'western metro' lines and bilevel boarding is practised.
From the early 1960s, the Oslo tram network was deliberately run down, as metros, diesel buses and motorways were considered to be the transport modes of the future. In 1977, however, the realisation that this was simply not practical for Oslo came to fruition and the years of neglect came to an end. However, the tramway was in great need of modernisation. This is still in progress, which reflects the time it takes to compensate for about 15 years of foregone investment. The new vision has been extremely successful in recent years, particularly in relation to the number of signal-controlled road junctions with active public transport priority.
Oslo City Council is backing OS' modernisation programme, dubbed KomFram from the absolute active traffic-signal priority system at its heart. This programme also includes increased provision of physically reserved lanes for buses and trams and improved stops, including real-time information. Boarding platforms are being raised to either 220 mm or 260 mm above ground level for buses and trams respectively. The programme involves rebuilding the street in places, such that kerbs are extended into boarding platforms (similar to 'bus-boarders') and the impression is given that public transport is the most important motorised mode in the street. Wherever possible, tram tracks are placed in the centre of the carriageway (and are increasingly marked with different road surfacing materials).
Oslo has a problem with narrow streets. In some places this is overcome by making these streets one-way or restricting car access. Frequently, however, tracks are slewed to one side of the carriageway so that space is available for traffic or parking at one or other kerb. Unfortunately, this means that in these situations trams run 'in the gutter' in one direction, potentially more likely to be obstructed by motor vehicles and a problem for pedal cyclists. Not surprisingly, there are a very high proportion of cyclists on Oslo's (quite narrow) pavements.
The modernisation programme naturally included the trams themselves. Funds are available from 1994 to replace the equivalent of 31 four-axle cars. An evaluation was carried out between western-built, low-floor articulated cars and eastern-European-built (and cheaper) four-axle cars. Whilst more articulated cars would be a natural progression, new four-axle cars would maintain operational flexibility. A four-axle prototype tram was obtained from CKD-Praha (Tatra) of (then) Czechoslovakia, and fitted out by Norwegian coach builder VBK (see Wood, 1992). CKD has since released a prototype low-floor, articulated car and have been taken over by AEG, which complicates the picture. Low-floor, bidirectional articulated cars are now to be purchased (in international competition).
A ring of toll booths opened around central Oslo on 1st February 1990, charging motorists a minimal fee to enter. This led to a small reduction in traffic and a 4% rise in public transport patronage initially, although the effect tailed off over the following year. The majority of the monies raised go to roads, but the exact proportion allocated to the public transport improvements is difficult to specify, as the road budget includes some money for bus lanes, public transport malls in the central area and bus and tram priorities (as well as a much-needed, 150 km cycle network).
Local public transport in the Paris region is the responsibility of the Syndicat des Transports Parisien (STP), controlled equally by the state and the eight county authorities départements) in the region. 97% of the STP's budget comes from the payroll tax (Versement Transport) paid by companies in the region with at least ten employees specifically for public transport. Employers are also required to pay half of the cost of their employees' travelcards. STP plans public transport routes, appoints operators and (subject to state approval) sets fares. It has control over the finances of Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP), which operates the metro, part of the RER system, most buses and the new tramways.
Extensions to rail lines are financed by the state (40&37;), the region (40&37;) and by the operator, by means of a low-interest loan from the region (20&37;). All vehicles and infrastructure renewal has to be paid for by the operator. Shortfalls in RATP's operating budgets, deemed to be a result of the state not allowing ticket prices to rise sufficiently, are made up by 'compensatory payments', 70&37; from the state and 30&37; from the départements.
Paris has a lack of orbital rail links. This is beginning to be remedied. A link between Antony and Orly airport has been made by automatic, rubber-tyred metro (VAL). The second orbital link to be made is the tramway between Saint-Denis and Bobigny in the inner north-eastern suburbs, which is the main focus of this case study. Under construction is a light rail conversion of a former rail line between Issy Plaine and Puteaux, with extensions north to La Défense and south to Porte de Versailles, due to open in 1996. A further orbital project is the Trans Val-de-Marne guided busway, linking Les Halles de Rungis and Saint-Maur Créteil in the south east, which may be upgraded to tramway at a later date.
The Saint-Denis-Bobigny corridor was identified in 1977 as having traffic potential likely to justify a high-quality public transport link. Light rail was quickly identified as being preferable to a bus-based system on grounds of image, comfort, speed, environment and economics.
The tramway links Saint-Denis' suburban rail and RER station, the centre of Saint-Denis, Saint-Denis-Basilique metro station, La Courneuve metro station and central La Courneuve, the new suburb of Bobigny and Bobigny-Pablo Picasso metro station. Plans exist to extend the line at both ends, particularly from Bobigny to Noisy-le-Sec. The line opened between July and December 1992, with work having started (moving underground services) in 1989. The 9-km tramway serves an area of dense land-use, with 73 000 inhabitants and 35 000 people employed, with 21 stops, c 430 m apart.
The exact route was dictated by the presence of one road, covering much of the route, wide enough to lose two of its lanes to a segregated tram alignment. For instance, at Théatre Gérard Philipe a 12-m carriageway was reduced to 6 m. Much of the route is in central reservation, a fair proportion to one side of the road. The reserved right-of-way is raised slightly above the level of the carriageway and protected with distinctive blue, conical bollards. The Saint-Denis station end runs along a road, Rue Auguste Delaune, made access-only, with other traffic shifted onto nearby streets. This street has been greatly improved by the changes. An elastic strip is fitted vertically at the edge of the tram's path to absorb vibrational energy.
All pavements, street furniture and plantings were new in association with the tramway. This was paid for by the Département de Seine-Saint-Denis and cost FRF 154 million (1991 figures). The tramway infrastructure cost FRF 766 million (financed 50&37; by the state, 42.5&37; by the region and 7.2&37; by the Département). The 17 trams cost RATP FRF 225 million.
Trams receive some traffic signal priority, according to traffic levels. Buses are not favoured in this way. The buses in the corridor used to run at an average service speed (including stops) of 12 km/h (just 9 km/h in Saint-Denis. The trams achieve 16 km/h, but the aim was for 19 km/h and the need to improve priority is recognised.
The trams are six-axle, double-ended vehicles with two articulations around a short centre section that rests on the centre bogie. Built by GEC-Alsthom and De Dietrich, the trams are of the same basic design as are running in Grenoble and are on order for the Puteaux-Défense line and for Rouen. 17 850 m of the floor (of the 29 400 mm tram) is at a nominal height of 350 mm, without passengers. It is designed to be flush with the 290 mm platforms in operation, assisted by varying the suspension. Space is available for wheelchairs, etc. Hand-rails are bright yellow, contrasting with the grey of the rest of the interior. Steps to the high-floor end sections are shallow and lit, but devoid of edge-markings. Each stop (and each zone boundary) is announced by a recorded, female voice.
Switzerland's largest city, Zürich, has recognised the rôle that high-quality public transport can play in improving its environment, reflected as much as anything in its ticketing arrangements. It has also embarked upon a programme of traffic restraint based not around road pricing but the reallocation of road space from cars to public transport, pedestrians and cyclists. Responsibility for the city's 13 tram (117.3 km), five trolleybus (36.3 km) and 43 diesel bus (89.7 km) routes falls to Verkehrsbetriebe der Stadt Zürich (VBZ). The metre-gauge tramway now has eight-axle, low-floor cars supplied by Duewag, with VeVeY small-diameter wheel-sets on the middle two, unpowered bogies, which are both mounted under the centre body section. An extensive regional rail network (S-Bahn) opened in 1990, operated in part with double-deck commuter trains. VBZ has increased its bus integration with rail stations and the whole transport network is unified in the Zürcher Verkehrsverbund (the Zürich regional joint-tariff association).
Switzerland is a rich and generally conservative country, but the environmental impact of transport has been brought home to politicians and citizens (importantly, given the degree of direct democracy through referenda) starkly: whole villages are now threatened by landslides resulting from forest dieback. This is in addition to the problems encountered in cities due to congestion. In the 1960s planners in Zürich recognised that public transport would go into terminal decline if congested running were allowed to continue or if roads were widened. Plans for tram subways and metro lines were rejected in referenda. The City Council took these decisions as a mandate to improve street-level public transport. The strategy has been to take carriageway space from general traffic use and give it over to specific use by public transport, pedal cyclists and pedestrians, together with tram and bus priority. These measures are backed up by parking and left-turn prohibitions, pedestrianisation and visible police enforcement.
At the same time, VBZ set about a positive marketing campaign for the system, newly-dubbed Zuri Linie, linked with greater flexibility in ticketing and ticket sales. The centre-piece of the new system, introduced on 1st January 1985, is the 'Rainbow' ticket: an idea borrowed from the successful ticket of the same name in Basle. Marketed as an environmentally responsible purchase, the 'Rainbow' ticket is a transferable (non-personal), period travelcard, the annual version of which can even be paid for by monthly standing order from a bank account. The ticket sells at a reduced rate and a youth ticket costs three-quarters of the full rate, but has been made available to anyone up to the age of 25 - a deliberate (and highly successful) attempt to entice young adults out of cars (Hüsler, 1990). The 'Rainbow' ticket is also eligible for tax relief (Fitzroy & Smith, 1992). The new system has been tremendously successful. The impact of the marketing and priority schemes appears to be a significant reduction in car use in the city and seems to have had an impact on car ownership levels (Hüsler, 1990).
An important factor in VBZ's success has been its recognition of the importance of communication (Hass-Klau, 1990). Not only is conventional passenger information important, if it is absent or of poor quality, that is also a communication: negative marketing. In company with other Swiss operators, VBZ recognises that it must communicate with non-passengers as much as passengers. It has deliberately set out to give public transport a positive image of being acceptable, fun, environmentally responsible and fashionable - and been highly successful. Between 1985 and 1989, passenger trips increased from 238 million to 259 million per annum, and the proportion of costs covered from ticket receipts went up from 53% to 65% (Taplin, 1991).
These case studies provide a number of valuable lessons for the planning of modern tramways in Britain. The most important of these, which should have wide application, are detailed here.
[If you have come to this point by following a reference link from within the text, simply click on your 'return' button to go back to your place in the article.]Buchanan, Colin (1963) Traffic in Towns: a Study of the Long-term Problems of Traffic in Urban Areas London: HMSO