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Guest Post: 23 reasons why trams are awesome

This is a Guest Post by Geoff Houtman

In the dying days of the ARC, with the “People’s Paradise” of Wynyard Wharf about to flower it was decided that a Tram Loop would be built, with future plans to extend it to Quay St and beyond. Mission Bay? Dom Rd? Ponsonby? Unitec? Wherever the people demanded it.

The loop was built, money was sourced to extend it to Quay St, linking the Ferries, Britomart Trains and Wynyard like an “innovative” city would. Inexplicably Waterfront Auckland delayed the extension of the line, the extension that would give it real utility, and now their unelected Board want to remove the Trams so as not to offend their bosses. No, not the Residents of Auckland, not even the Council- the corporates who lease the land and want everything their way.

Here are 23 reasons we need trams/light rail and now!

1- Improved Air Quality. Reducing air pollutant emissions by 50% by 2016 is the Council’s stated goal. Diesel buses drive and wait idling all day every day, adding cancerous diesel particulates to the air from early in the morning until late at night. Electric trams not only take cars off the road more successfully than buses, they doubly reduce air pollution because they are zero emission themselves. Exhaust fumes are estimated to prematurely kill 400 Aucklanders per year.

2- Safer For Cyclists. It is physically impossible for a tram to swerve out of it’s lane and hit a cyclist. Cities with high cycle usage and high tram usage are the same cities precisely because of this reason. Riders must take care to cross the tram rails correctly but it’s not any more care needed than crossing a painted road marking or pothole. Trams are the cyclist’s best friend.

3- No Conflict with City Rail Link. Mike Lee’s desire to get “Trams now” and the Mayor’s wish to Tram Queen St up to Karangahape Rd (from 05.00) mean that trams are not a competitor for funding or patronage, more a complement to the existing plan.

4- Higher Quality Urban Results. The densest parts of Melbourne (and generally the most desirable and livable) are largely congruent with the extent of the tram network. Ribbons of lesser density extend out along the train lines. The areas served only by buses in Melbourne are low density. Causality cannot be proven but, in the case of Melbourne, trams go hand in hand with medium density and desirable areas.

5- Safer For Pedestrians. Trams calm traffic. The speed limit (even Ponsonby Rd’s 40 km/h) is being ignored constantly and is not being enforced. Trams calm traffic in a way no other vehicle can, many cities, like Melbourne, have passengers boarding from the centre of roads at pedestrian safety zones. Safer for pedestrians, safer for drivers.

6- Heritage and History. Many inner-city shopping centres formerly had tram lines along their entire length. When the trams and historic trolley poles were removed in the mid 1950’s the area lost much valuable heritage. Auckland developed along the Tram lines. Some could go as far to say that Trams built Auckland. Could they do so again?

7- Increasing Tourist Stay Days. (Western Bays Line example). Rightly so, the Council wants to increase Tourist Days spent in Auckland. A tram from Quay St though Wynyard, Victoria Park and Ponsonby Rd could connect to Great North Rd and from there to the existing tram lines in Western Springs- effectively linking 6 retail areas (CBD, Viaduct, Wynyard, Victoria Park Market, Ponsonby Rd and the Grey Lynn shops), 3 parks (Victoria, Western and Western Springs) and 4 tourist attractions (Springs Stadium, MOTAT 1, Auckland Zoo and MOTAT 2) with Britomart trains, Queens Wharf cruise liners and Ferries. Independent of destination, some cities use the Trams themselves as attractions. Melbourne even has fine dining trams!

8- Easy To Install. Many streets are wide enough and suitable for trams as they were all former tram routes. Reinstalling the rails is fairly straight forward and will have no incompatibilities with current services (buried pipes etc). In “Olde Aucklande” 27 miles of track was laid in just 14 months. These days we may not have the superior technology of the 1920’s but I’m sure we could find a way to lay 715 metres of track per week as they did 90 years ago…

9- Mass Local Support. The former Western Bays and Hobson Community Boards both supported the reintroduction of the Trams, as does the Ponsonby Business Association. A petition presented to Parliament last year was signed by nearly 1100 locals, including almost all Ponsonby Rd and K Rd businesses, asking “the House to consider whether legislation will be required to facilitate the extension of Auckland’s tram system as part of an integrated system that complements the proposed City Rail Link with the aim of reducing congestion in Auckland.”

10- Shush- quiet now. Tram technology has advanced considerably since 1902. The only downside to Trams- the noisy rails, have been taken out of the equation. The Wynyard Wharf loop makes great use of current dampening techniques. This makes trams quieter than buses and cars, although not as quiet as cycles!

11- Less Oil Imports. New Zealand’s economy will also benefit at a macro level. Domestic electricity beats Imported oil every way it can be measured. If oil prices continue to skyrocket the price of fuelling all our diesel buses will also go up, driving fares up to compensate. A tram network will help us avoid the effects of the oil spike, and public transport will have a cost-advantage over private vehicles.

12- Better Ride Quality. Trams have a smoother ride and less vibrations, due to the guided tracks, more ability for commuters to work enroute, more comfort overall. Railed vehicles are far less likely to induce motion sickness than road vehicles.

13- Permanency and Certainty. By their very nature the immovability of Trams encourages intensification along the tram corridor. The caryards on Great North Rd ridge in Grey Lynn, slated to become city fringe apartments, are a prime example of this. This has been shown on many occasions overseas (Portland, Oregon being a classic example). This can have significant economic benefits bringing more people and businesses within an easy tram ride of each other.

14- Higher Capacity than buses. Trams (both single carriage and articulated multiple units) have up to twice the capacity of buses.

15- Remove more cars. Trams have much greater appeal to the general public as they are generally more attractive than buses (cleaner, quieter, superior ride quality), and because they only follow the tram lines, there isn’t the fear that some people have with buses where they may get on the wrong one, so more people are more likely to use them than buses. Tramways are proven worldwide to attract up to 50% of their patronage from former drivers.

16- Faster Loading / Disabled Access. Newer trams with 100% flat floors, wide aisles and three or more double doors per side lead to very short “dwell times” making faster “headways” possible. Mobility is also improved for the disabled.

17- Increasing Existing Road Capacity. Following the Melbourne example of trams sharing the two lanes closest to the centre-line increases road usability without adding extra lanes. Both tracks share trolley poles, reducing the visual clutter as well as halving the cost of accessories.

18- Successful Public-Private Partnerships. Trams in Auckland were installed and run by the Auckland Tramways Company (as an aside- the bus driver’s union is still called Auckland Tramways Union). In July 1919 the Tramways were purchased by the Auckland City Council and ten years later taken over by the newly constituted Auckland Transport Board.

19- Trams Are Fun. People love Trams! Is it nostalgia? Perceived “coolness”? Exoticism? Higher desirability due to a “better” quality of ride? Greener? Nobody knows. The specific reason is ultimately not the point. People actively wanting to try Public Transport as a regular thing is the real win.

20- Names! A generation has grown up with Thomas the Tank Engine and know instinctively that all Trams (and trains) should have names. A Streetcar named Mike. Named Christine. Named Sene. Named Len. Named Bob. If we anthropomorphosise each car, people with think of them as “folks they know” rather than number 109. Kids love trams, this system is not just for us, it’s for them, and their kids.

21- Previous Council Support. The ARC under Mike Lee pushed hard for Trams, succeeding with the Wynyard Loop. The ACC had plans to investigate a 4km $16M Tram route. The ACC Transport Committee decreed that it “supports an electric tram proposal in principle and recommends to Auckland Transport that it gives consideration to the proposal as soon as practicable”. In September 2010…

22- Innovative Cities Have Trams. Auckland’s future is about being a “City Of Innovation”. Innovation is about being “ahead of the curve”. One part of being ahead of the curve is Trams. After all these cities are all doing it

23- “Trams” is a palindrome of “Smart”. ‘Nuff said.

Giants building a tram

Giants building a tram

69 comments to Guest Post: 23 reasons why trams are awesome

  • Matthew

    The 400 dead Aucklanders annually figure (I’ve also seen a figure of 700) are from particulate pollution which you attribute to exhaust fumes has more sources than just vehicles. Wood burners are responsible for a lot of the particulate pollution in Auckland.

    http://www.aktnz.co.nz/2011/07/18/700-aucklanders-killed-by-pollution-a-year/

    And look at the graph in http://www.gns.cri.nz/Home/Our-Science/Environment-Materials/Air-Quality/Research/Understanding-air-particulate-matter-pollution. There is a day time hump which is largely from vehicles and industry, but it is dwarfed by the night time emissions which are mostly wood burners.

    Particulate pollution from a wood burner in a night can equal the particulate pollution for a year from a car driven 20,000 kilometres. That 20,000 vehicle kilometres will be of more benefit to society than one night of warm toes. And the benzene emissions of a woodburner are 5 to 7 times higher than a car, and car’s benzene emissions are already way too high.

    I completely agree that electric traction is way, way better than smelly diesel buses, but there are other cleaner bus technologies such as compressed LNG. or even cleaner diesel standards, which are cheaper than trams.

    But getting the vehicle fleet cleaner is a wasted effort if people are allowed to burn any old shit in their lounge rooms. http://cleanairnz.com/

  • Dave Smith

    Fair points – it is surprising many developers do not seem to get behind them in Auckland though?

    There are a string of cities that have benefited from light rail, of course yet again Auckland seems to lack vision.

    Even the complete and utter balls-up that is the Edinburgh tram “network” (a text book case for what not to do in project management from all accounts) is starting to have some benefits for brownfield and greenfield developments e.g.:

    http://www.scotsman.com/edinburgh-evening-news/latest-news/edinburgh-trams-to-drive-house-building-programme-1-2833521
    http://www.theedinburghreporter.co.uk/2013/04/haymarket-site-to-be-developed-after-long-wait/

  • Jon Reeves

    Everyone here in Basel prefer trams over buses. So the Basel Transport Dept are building even more tram routes.

    Auckland needs the waterfront tram line extended to Britomart 1st, up Queen Street or up to Ponsonby should then be the next priorites.

    Trams – people love them WHEN they actually go somewhere!!!

  • James

    24. Trams from Britomart along Tamaki drive to St Heliers (and beyond?) would serve both tourist and commuting passengers, and would help reclaim Auckland’s beautiful waterfront from the clogging line of polluting cars that occupy it.

    Plus it fits well with turning Quay St into a car-free zone, with pedestrians, cycle lanes and trams. We could even have open urban spaces with plentiful seating for cafes, restaurants & bars like a real city – like in Europe, but with the advantage of Auckland’s warm climate.

    • Bryce P

      This would enable some nice development along the route. There is no point in any further development along the ‘bays until transport is sorted. Tamaki Drive and Kepa Rd are both nightmarish now. Adding further development without fixing transport is silly. Unfortunately both AT and NZTA refuse to acknowledge this and mostly prefer to carry on widening roads.

      • Swan

        I guess this is the point. If we were to extend a tram around Tamaki Dr, could we expect more development on that route? One side is water, and I’m not sure who amenable the locals on the other side are to development. (The ones out at St Heliers are particularly feral)

        • While doing the round the bays, I was thinking it would be great if a tram went round the coast, down St Heliers road, then on to Panmure, allowing easy transfer to the Train/future bus hub. Could even be extended out to Howick

  • Stu Donovan

    Love your enthusiasm Geoff. Would just like to comment on a few things; comments numbered as per yours:

    1. This sounds like a lot; see Matt’s comment above.
    2. Agree.
    3. Buses complement CRL too. Or did I miss something?
    4. Massive causality issue. Trams are almost always developed in areas of high density.
    5. Agree.
    6. More of a question than a reason.
    7. Disagree. Few people will visit and/or stay longer in Auckland just for a tram. And to pay for the tram you’d have to put up rates. This would add to costs living, especially accommodation, which will in turn tend to reduce guest nights.
    8. Easier than a monorail perhaps?
    9. Don’t agree. A petition with 1,100 signatures is not “mass” support. And if it’s not presented alongside the costs of the project then the question is rather vacuous don’t you think?
    10. Agree.
    11. Agree to an extent, although bus technology has improved too; some might say much more rapidly than tram technology – but that’s a debate for another day.
    12. Agree.
    13. Let me get this straight: A technology that was 1) ripped out of many cities around the world, including Auckland and 2) has just been pulled out of Wynyard is somehow seen to be permanent? As permanent as snow in the sahara …
    14. Meh. Trams don’t have twice the capacity of buses. They have greater capacity, but not twice.
    15. High quality bus service, such as the Northern Express, have attracted 50% of their users from cars.
    16. Agree
    17. Agree
    18. Getting very peripheral now …
    19. Fun? Really? If I was investing in transport for fun I’d suggest we build a few flying foxes, not trams. Much cheaper. I think trams are slow and boring. Metros – now they’re fun.
    20. ???
    21. A few years ago one council, which was heavily influenced by one person who really supports trams, expressed support trams? Funny that. Should this Government’s historical support for RoNs be used to justify future highways?
    22. How are trams innovative?
    23. bus is a palindrome for sub, which when you insert “per” in between the “u” and the “b” turns into “superb” ;)

    As you were!

  • obi

    10 “The only downside to Trams- the noisy rails, have been taken out of the equation. ”

    Someone needs to tell Melbourne. Their trams sound absolutely dreadful as they go around corners.

    • Swan

      Same for Manchester. As for ped safety, really? When I lived in Manchester there were frequent reports of ped/tram incidents. And when in Melbourne last year they had a big ad campaign warning LEDs against the dangers of trams, indicating a problem. Presumably you could train bus drivers to drive at a slow speed? Given GPS tracking it would be possible to enforce.

      For cyclists, really? I found tram tracks a problem with skinny bike tyres, almost came a cropper a few times. Most of the rest of the points are not related to trams but to network design, power source, etc.

      • As someone who used to work in Melbourne analysing injury hospitalisation data, you cannot claim trams are safer for pedestrians or cyclists. It’s a very difficult thing to actually investigate as it is hard to set the denominator of usage to create a realistic injury rate. There are definitely plenty of pedestrian injuries and deaths from trams in Melbourne, much more so that buses. But there are a lot more trams, and trams run in the busy pedestrian and cycling areas more so. The simple conclusion is that trams aren’t ‘absolutely’ safe, they still result in accidents, and the more trams you have the more tram related injuries you’ll have.

        As for the comparison between trams, buses, train, cars etc, to many confounding variables to make a strong conclusion. I might add I think that trams and pedestrians work well in urban environments and create nice spaces and places, but I’m not making a call on safety.

      • SteveC

        because they can’t leave the tracks, trams are more likely to be held up by inconsiderately parked vehicles, or to have fender benders when compared to buses

        • Good thinking Steve,

          Add a bylaw- you park in the Tramways you get shunted out of the way by the tram, pay a fine and the paint damage to the tram.

          Bet it only happens a couple of times before the word gets out!

  • Love trams but what I think we need to do / can afford to do is to first identify suitable LRT / tram routes around the city / suburbs, implement the necessary priority protection, and then run buses along these routes. Once the patronage is proven to be a winner, slowly implement LRT / tram lines. A question for you all: lanes up the centre of the road or the sides?

    • Stu Donovan

      up the guts!

      • Figured as much Stu.There is nothing, other than political will, that prevents dedicated bus lanes up the middle of Quay and Queen St’s with minimal engineering and costs. Any other reasons anyone can think off?

      • Bryce- I’m with Stu- up the guts. From memory the cycling folks are big fans of that too

        • Stu Donovan

          yes it’s better for pretty much everyone, especially people cycling or getting out of parked cars.

          • Works better for general traffic, particularly turning movements at intersections: centre lanes conflict with right turns, side lanes conflict with right and left turns.

            …but I think the days of Melbourne style “wander out into the middle of the street and hope the traffic stops behind the tram like it’s supposed to” stops are over. That means proper platform style ‘super stops’ are requried, that means more infrastructure, pedestrian crossings/lights to access them, and more road width taken up. Long story short I think modern stop requriements push up the cost and impact of trams, which pushes them a bit further toward especially high demand high use routes and further away from general PT corridors.

            It also means that the decision to have roadside parking/clearways comes at the expense of another traffic lane, not the PT lane. So drivers can make the decision of whether they want parking, or another lane to drive in, not parking or a PT lane.

    • bbc

      We’re at that point already with routes like Dominion Rd and very large sums of money are going to be spent producing an outcome that no one is happy with and that means we’ll be stuck with overloaded buses for the foreseeable future.

    • Sailor Boy

      Centre lanes, much easier to access as apedstrian strangely nough.

  • Ian

    Restaurant trams (Melbourne). What is taking them so long to extend the Wynyard tram to Britomart then up to say, the town hall? It’s hardly a Waterview type of expenditure.

    • Stu Donovan

      I would expect it would still cost in the vicinity of $100m once you throw in a bridge and upgrades to streets/intersections, on top of costs for vehicles, overhead wires, and platforms. It’s a biggie – so much so that I’m almost inclined to say that first stage should just go to Britomart, so that connection to Wynyard is provided soon, while tackling Q Street all the way up to K Road (and possibly terminating in the vicinity of the new Newton Station) as stage 2. Stage 3 would then go down Dom Rd to SH20 and then stage 4 to Onehunga. How say you chief?

      • Wynyard to Britomart is #1 Priority. Ferries, Britomart (trains and buses), Wynyard- all linked with an emission free, waterproof bit of classiness.There’s money for it sitting in a bank account for a year or two now, it’s borderline criminal that it HASN’T been built!.

        #2 plan should be Miss Bay/ Dom Rd/ GNR/ Pons whichever gets the most noise behind it.

        Then the argument becomes over who gets a line first. And second and third.

        THAT is the argument we want to be having.

  • Kris

    Light rail (trams) that are heavy/light rail compatible with connecting bus services at light rail hubs are a better solution for Auckland but unfortunately, the policy makers have been short sighted, resulting missed opportunities especially future proofing Auckland motor ways and streets for progressive introduction to to light rail operation

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that have the existing tram loop extend to Britomart transport centre along the Viaduct basin and Quay Street is important. Once again another short sightness by policy makers who can see the both a transport option for the area but it is also a tourism product.

    Those cities who integrated heritage trams routes in city renewal programme have found them to by successful be the locals and tourists alike.

    At lease Christchurch is rebuilding it heritage tram system.

  • PS1

    24. Would provide a safe option, connecting the pubs and bars with Britomart and reduce drink driving.

  • Filde

    Well, you know what I REALLY, REALLY love is beautiful women. Woooooweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

    Here are 5,000 reasons why we all need beautiful women (men):

    – It makes me happy
    – It makes Auckland happy
    – It makes the sun shine
    – The plants are sick of staring at ugly mugs and need more fertile faces

    Just think of all those positive externalities!

    Newsflash Rob Muldoon: Wealth is a very, very precious thing; the type of thing to make a government and its people bankrupt…

  • Peter H

    Once on Quay St, extend to Port of Auckland tracks, and use Tram/Trains on eastern line, freeing up capacity in Britomart Station.

    • Hi Peter, unfortunately our trams run on Standard Gauge track (1435mm between rails or 4′ 8 1/2 ” in the old money) while NZ’s trains run on Narrow or Cape Gauge (1067mm or 3’6”).

      Commentators on here recently have wished our Trains were on Standard too- far faster speeds are possible (Huntly, Ngaruawahia, Hamilton dormitory towns are possible).

      If a “Metro Rail” across the AHB were to be built I would hope it would be Standard gauge… (Dammit we need rail to the Shore ASAP- they deserve Trains and Trams just as much as any other part of Auckland)

  • Ben S

    Great post, nice work.

    Point 13 caught my eye – Permanency and Certainty. I know what you mean. I think there’s a human argument for trams that’s about qualities beyond the obvious. They’re a touchpoint for a sense of social cohesion and continuation – like the post office. Motorised traffic is by nature random, unpredictable, a swarm of angry bees. Trams suggest something reassuring and regular. They give a city rhythm and composure. They’re elegant and dignified. And I don’t think that’s just about nostalgia, it’s simply about the nature of that mode of transport.

    Today, Sunday, I had to make a trip across town. By car. Got stuck in traffic jam… on a Sunday. The main arterials are nothing less that four lane de facto motorways. People do 60 or 70kms/h if they can get away with it – and they can – they know where the speed cameras are plonked. There’d be no need for four lane highways if those roads staged light rail. We’d be narrowing roads, not widening them.

    Auckland is an incredible natural location that, with notable exceptions, we have made into a hellhole of tarmac and oblivion. This car culture we’ve allowed to flourish is miserable, vile, socially destructive and a hugely costly mistake.

    There’s no doubt trams can be a huge part of a sea-change solution to fixing this city and its transport problems.

  • Torbayite

    The scientific paper for air pollution is available from http://www.hapinz.org.nz/
    The report was finished March 2012 and report on air emissions in 2006.
    In Volume 1 : Summary Report Page 57 of 89 gives numbers of premature deaths in over 30 year olds.
    In the Auckland region in 2006 PM10 levels were estimated to cause 611 deaths and 126 of these deaths were due to motor vehicles proportion of the emisssions.

  • harrymc

    Aibohphobia (fear of palindromes)
    I think you need to look up what “palindrome” means; the word tram is not a palindrome.
    It is a word (but more often, a sentence) that reads the same backwards as it does forwards.
    I love trams but I also love the English language.
    Do geese see God?

    • harrymc- i see what you mean, but with an *

      Wiki reckons palindromes are words “whose meaning may be interpreted the same way in either forward or reverse direction” not just spelling. I’ll work on a proper one…

      Sex at noon taxes
      ;-)

  • Matt

    Perhaps most importantly, middle-class people seem to happily ride trams in a way that they do not with buses (unless compelled by poverty/discounts/extreme tolls/parking fees/congestion), so you get a greater ridership for a given service level, and a lower percentage of concessionary users. There’s also an element of ‘sparks effect’ – the perception in the minds of users that an electrified service is faster, more frequent and more reliable than an un-electrified one.

  • TimE

    Trams are expensive and the capital investment required for establishing a network and maintaining it prohibitive, particularly when buses are available.

    Trams are substantially less flexible meaning a. it is less likely to get you to where you want to go than a bus and b. when it breaks down, you’re f*#ked. Seriously, see how trolley buses bung up Wellington when they go plop – why do you think they’ve pulled them from weekend runs?

    Trams have moderately higher capacity, but considerably fewer seats. Enjoy standing up on that long, slow ride stuck in traffic because…

    …Auckland’s roads are not suitable for tram-only corridors, meaning they’ll have to share with cars, meaning they’re just more expensive versions of buses.

    Stop bleating the Tamaki Drive idea. The road is not wide enough to accommodate cars, parking, bus lanes, trams, cyclists AND pedestrians. Unless you want to chip away at the hills or expand out over the water/beaches and somehow not run into marinas, restaurants, parks, beaches, playgrounds… you know, the reasons people actually want to go to Tamaki Drive.

    • Sailor Boy

      The whole point of trams (on this bog anyway) is to put them in high use corridors such as dominion Rd, Queen Street, Wynyard. So that they replace bus routes that are at capacity. SF clearly shows that people don’t mind standing on trams, and many riders there prefer it. Also, why would a tram be stuck in traffic, it would be given its own lane, so wouldn’t be in traffic.
      If you actually read the blog content it quite clearly states the advantages over buses so stop flogging the dead horse of pretense that they are ‘just more expensive buses’

      Yes, Tamaki probably would need widening in places. But I see no reason to allow parking on the road if it can be supplid elsewhere. Kohimarama Yaht club is the only entity on that road which needs large amounts of on road carparking.

    • If you get rid of the parking, Tamaki Dr would be wide enough for two traffic lanes, two tram lanes and two cycle lanes. Same with Dominion Rd and most other arterials of that age that are one chain wide.

  • TimE

    If you get rid of parking? I could argue, if you get rid of cars/roads/cyclists/large existing physical structures etc etc. Swing by Tamaki Drive one weekend and you’ll understand why parking is an absolute necessity. Large families travelling from all parts of Auckland who don’t want to spend the time and money required to catch a bus or a train t connect to a tram that finally gets them to where they want to be… 90 minutes after walking out the door with three ratchety kids.

    Get rid of parking on Tamaki Drive and the local backstreets will clog up immediately. Yeah, let’s see how that works out.

    Dominion Road with no roadside carparking? Same problem, and not going to happen care of local businesses. So again, good luck with that.

    And Sailor Boy – the blog is clearly bias towards trams, which doesn’t make a compelling case at all. you assume trams would come with dedicated lanes – how do you propose doing this given the Council can’t even provide dedicated lanes for buses now? You don’t address the substantial startup, capital and maintenance costs that trams have over buses. You don’t address the lack of flexibility of trams – they’re stuck on rails, so when they break down, watch the jam of other trams behind them and, if they’re not in dedicated corridors, which they won’t be in Auckland, enjoy that traffic chaos. And then of course they reduce route flexibility. Then you have the complex issue of funding yet another form of transport but from within the same pie (see Melbourne’s woeful bus system to see how trams bleed funding dry).

    Starts to add up, huh? And no, I don’t want to stand up the length of Dominion Road or the length of Tamaki Drive. Or ever, frankly, if I can help it. What proof do you have that people actually would rather this? Surveys? San Francisco? Those dinky tourist trams that run up to the Castro?

    Trams – another reason decision makers don’t take public transport advocates seriously.

    • Bryce P

      Not ‘no parking’ but no parking on Tamaki Drive. There are opportunities to place parking on the inland side of Tamaki Drive. The same solution exists for Dominion Rd.

      • Precisely. In each case there is a carrigeway of about 14m kerb to kerb. Excuse me if I don’t agree that using half of that scarce roadspace to store the empty vehicles of lazy suburbanites and their ‘ratchety kids’ is the more efficient outcome. There is already a lot of parking along the Tamaki Dr and Dominion Rd corridors that isn’t parallel bays on the roadway, and there is potential for more. So what if we drop the parking capacity in the area by 20% to add capacity for 15,000 extra trips an hour. There is a huge net gain in access for all people, not just those that insist they should be able to drive everywhere and park on the roadway right where they demand to park.

    • Of course it is biased look at the title “Guest Post: 23 reasons why trams are awesome”

      • James- The Post’s Title is mine, I am biased towards Trams. There have been many useful comments from sometimes the unlikeliest of folk, but-

        A regular reader of this Blog as a whole would see that it is not biased towards Trams.

        Which are awesome…

    • Sailor Boy

      I don’t need to address the inflexibility of trams, there is currently a grand total of 1 bus route that does britomart to wynyard, and one up queen street. That doesn’t seem to be an issue, so why should a tram that does the same be an issue.

      You are framing the argument as trams as a replacement to buses or cars or parking which are all false, they are a complement to all of these. The question is not trams or not it is trams, where?

  • Gian

    I think 126 dead people per year because of vehicle emissions is a price much higher than a couple of tram tracks down the road.
    And for the case of Melbourne, maybe buses are empty because people catches the trams, that are awesome!

    • That was certainly my experience of living in Melbourne, the buses were really considered the poor cousins of the trams. You only used a bus if there ws no other option.

      As much as I love trams and the two best cities I have lived in (Melbourne, Prague) thrive on them, I just question whether there is anything that can be achieved by trams right now that buses cant do. If we had a 50/50 spend on roads/PT-cycling I would say yes, light rail is a no brainer.

      But right now we are scraping for every dollar. I am not convinced trams are the best bang for our buck. Once we get a decent modal share in Auckland between cars/transit/cycles (maybe 50/40/10 – or am I dreaming?), light rail will definitely come into the equation when people really how good transit is and are clamouring for more.

      • Bryce P

        Of course the reason we’re scaping for every dollar is the unbalanced transport funding program.

      • Sailor Boy

        Once the CRL is built I think we will NEED a tram on Queen Street.

        • Bryce P

          I can think of more important projects. After all, you’ll be able to hop onto a train at Britomart and hop of at Aotea or K’Rd which leaves a short walk to anywhere on Queen. Also, the Mt Roskill rail branch that could be built for a reasonable figure (quite a bit cheaper than tram along Dom Rd I expect), has the potential to remove a bit of traffic off Dom Rd. Not saying it wont be needed at all, just that I don’t think its next in the list.

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