CBD Trams



There are not a lot of things I will agree with Councillor Cameron Brewer on but the Councillor’s calls on extending the Tram lines from Wynyard Quarter most likely towards Britomart is something I can agree with – for now.


I noted in a press release from Councillor Brewer that the Mayor has inserted in the Draft 2014/2015 Annual Plan (that comes out for submissions next year) a proposal of $7.3m to extend the tram lines after the system was mothballed owing to a recently completed upgrade of Daldy Street in Wynyard Quarter (amongst other things). This extension proposal has cropped up in previous Annual Plan papers but have been deferred for a later day.


In trying to remain objective as possible to this I see no need to put money forward on this Tram system (current and extensions) until the following factors are met:

  1. Wynyard Quarter is fully redeveloped
  2. Quay Street turns from a traffic sewer to a more people and urban friendly boulevard 
  3. The Light Rail Transit system (LTR) can be extended to Mission Bay or St Heliers from Britomart within 20 years time
  4. System converted away from trams to LTR first


LRT or Light Rail Transit?


Toronto, Canada (yes home of Mayor Ford) is having a debate about building a Light Rail Transit System – and how it gets very confused often with trams and street cars.


I saw that come up yesterday in which this was said:

Seeing is believing when it comes to LRT



Last updated Friday, Nov. 29 2013, 9:35 PM EST

You’ve got to leave Toronto to see an LRT in action.

Light rail technology is used in dozens of cities – including Austin, Calgary, Jerusalem, Paris, Sydney, and Spain’s second city, where a pair of lines carry millions of people annually.

But it will not be operational in Toronto until the Crosstown line along Eglinton Avenue is up and running later this decade.

“It’s willful ignorance or deliberate mischaracterization,” one senior transit official said privately.

Adding to the confusion, some cities call LRTs “trams,” which in other places is a synonym for streetcars.

While no specific feature distinguishes the two types of transit, there are key differences. LRTs usually have higher speeds, greater capacity and accelerated boarding. They run separately from traffic, typically with efforts made to minimize the effect on drivers by re-engineering the road.

Barcelona has a smooth and fast system running mostly above ground on its own right of way. Large sections of the tracks are surrounded by grass, an idea Toronto’s planning staff is also proposing.

Passengers buy tickets on the covered platform and quickly board the trams, as they are called here, through multiple doors. During several trips, the average dwell time – the period spent stationary at each station – was about 25 seconds. The speed reached about 40 kilometres per hour.

Olatz Ortiz, who is charge of studies and projects for Tram Barcelona, said the two lines carried nearly 24 million passengers last year, a number that is not high enough to justify the much greater cost of digging a subway.

“Everything is a [result] of demand,” she told The Globe and Mail. “I mean, you have to take into account that constructing one kilometre of tramway costs around €20-million [$28.8-million] and constructing metro, it can cost around €100-million.”

But don’t tell Mr. Hudak. The Opposition Leader called LRTs “glorified streetcars” on a recent visit to The Globe and Mail, and would like to focus almost entirely on underground rail. It also would not be welcomed by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who abhors surface transit, saying it gets in the way of private vehicles. Before his most recent troubles, Mr. Ford seized the transit agenda with the populist slogan, “Subways, subways, subways,” saying the much higher cost of tunnelling was worth the convenience and perceived prestige value.

City hall watchers wondered if Mr. Ford, a vehement LRT opponent, learned more about the technology on a trip to Austin last month. It is unclear whether he saw them. A message to his then deputy chief of staff and spokesman was not returned.

Source: http://m.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/seeing-is-believing-when-it-comes-to-lrt/article15697736?service=mobile

You can read the full article over at The Globe and Mail site


What it shows though is similar issues Auckland faces that Toronto also has: A misconception about what LTR does (closes example of it here is Sydney and even though the system is relatively small it does carry a lot of passengers (well it was when I was there in March)), the fact people confuse it with trams, and still this doggedness over pro-car auto dependency that all make selling LRT ideas often harder than it needs be.

I can see in the next 25 years LTR systems being built in Auckland in several locations:

  • Wynyard Quarter to St Heliers via Britomart, Quay Street and Tamaki Drive
  • Replacing heavy rail on the Botany Line (although this LTR (Sky Train) would be elevated and at higher speed then street level LTR’s)
  • Possibly Dominion Road and Queen Street (I need to be sold on this one)
  • Manukau – Manukau City Centre supplementing the Sky Train LTR (will play around with this on Google Earth and see if this has a chance

Note: North Shore Line I still believe should be heavy rail so that the new EMU fleet that will be running across the rail network can be extended through to the North Shore



So no to the tram extensions but yes to a full study on Light Rail Transit that can be applied not only in the CBD but outside the CBD as well.