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The Case Against Trams

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[COLOR="black"]The proposed Merseytram:
[LIST][*]Is not rapid-transit. [*]It is not wholly segregated [*]Not genuinely rapid-transit, and never can be running at horse & cart speeds in the city centre[*]In the city centre will cause jams. [*]Whole districts are not covered. [*]Sefton does not benefit.[*]Wirral does not benefit[/LIST]
Merseytram doesn't emulate Manchester's Metrolink or many of the other newer generation tram networks. It it trying to be buses and a rapid transit rail - we already have both. It is trying to be some sort of horse and cart speed panacea. [B]Merseytram can only fail.[/B]

Merseytram came about because public money was available and Merseytravel wanted to get its hands on some of it. The city had a guided bus scheme rejected and Merseytravel had to justify its existence - hence an unneeded tram scheme when the city is full of disused rail infrastructure awaiting re-commission into the existing Merseyrail metro underground, giving a fully comprehensive network.

[b][color=blue]The limited technology of the day introduced trams.[/b][/color]

Firstly, why did we have trams in the first place? Trams came about as the internal combustion engine, and road vehicles, were not developed enough to produce efficient comfortable busses. Road were mainly cobbled and gave a poor ride.

In the late 1800s an electric vehicle beat an internal combustion vehicle in pulling power by a massive margin. The problem was the electricity to drive the motor - overhead wires could do that. To keep the vehicle in line at all times with the overhead electric pickup wires the vehicle had to be on rails. The ride was superb compared to glorified wagons on cobbled streets. No contest, trams came about - buses on rails out of necessity, not choice.

[img]http://i36.tinypic.com/2rrs8pc.jpg[/img]
[SIZE="1"]An 1898 internal combustion engines bus[/SIZE]

[img]http://www.trolleybus.net/images/liverpool2.gif[/img]
[SIZE="1"]An electric tram - an electric bus. No contest they beat the autonomous busses of the day hands down.[/SIZE]

[b][color=blue]Now let us look at why a comprehensive tram network in Liverpool (and other cities) was abandoned 50 years ago.[/b][/color]

As the internal combustion engine improved radically, vehicle bodies and suspension improved along with pneumatic tyres and roads were tarmacked. This gave greater safety, comfort and a smooth ride. The flexible bus was more suited to an expanding city's needs than running on fixed rail lines.

Cities were rebuilding and extending after WW2 and now faster buses was the answer. Buses were:
[list][*]cheap, [*]flexible, [*]do not cause traffic jams, which the tram was renowned for, [*]can stop anywhere, [*]do not have ugly dangerous overhead cables in city streets, [*]do not not vibrate adjacent buildings, [*]do not screech going around tight city street corners,[*]as comfortable as trams[*]etc[/list]
Trams (electric buses in fixed routes) were quickly phased out in cities. All cities abandoned trams. Few people mourned their passing.

What do trams offer us today over a modern comfortable air suspension tram-like bus like this?

[IMG]http://www.wrightbus.com/uploads_images/vegasstreetcarsmall.jpg[/IMG]

The answer is very little indeed. In city streets the tram is mixing with surface traffic and causing jams, running at horse & cart speeds competing, so not faster than modern buses. Currently trams are more eco in cities as emissions are zero. New hybrid/electric buses are very low emission and zero kerbside emissions, the most damaging emissions, when stopped at bus stops and traffic lights - the engines are off taking off on the electric motor. The full electric bus will be highly feasible as superior motors and great advances in battery technology and supercapacitors progresses. Not to mention superior suspension

In London LED information displays at bus stops - informing of the waiting time for the next bus - and inside the buses with automated voice announcements improve the service immensely.

Running modern buses on dedicated bus lanes means the tram has no edge on a modern bus. The bus lanes can be used by other vehicles in off-peak times, so no waste.

Modern hybrid/electric bendy-buses carry 150 passengers compared to 87 on double-deckers.

[u]A modern tram scheme is horrendous in capital cost to implement to a comparable modern hybrid/electric bus scheme running on segregated bus lanes, offering no more.[/u]

[b]So, in tram vs modern electric/hybrid bus, the bus wins hands down.[/b]

Taking passengers on segregated rails means the travel is [b]rapid[/b]. The only reason for urban rail transport is the segregated, traffic free, rail track and rapid progress shifting many hundreds of people very quickly from district to district. In Paris its Metro is just below the road surface on rubber wheels with many stations at bus stop frequencies. Paris also has the RER rapid transit commuter-rail system which meshes in with the Metro.

[IMG]http://i50.tinypic.com/9s7xhh.jpg[/IMG]
[SIZE="1"]A Paris Metro station entrance. The platforms are a few steps below the surface.[/SIZE]

All in all, running passengers over rails is for rapid-transit. Road passenger transport does it better through existing streets. Putting trains on city streets, that is what modern trams are, is a rather dumb idea. Older trams were merely fixed route buses.

Trams can only compete with buses, and as highlighted above fail in comparison. They incorporate the worse of both bus and rail.

The Liverpool Region has an underground/metro rapid transit rail system. Liverpool also has an abundance of disused rail track bed, overground stations, underground tunnels and underground stations awaiting recommission. To implement trams over extending the rapid transit rail system when the infrastructure is largely available to extend is bordering on madness.

[b]Trams are not rapid-transit.[/b]

The Liverpool Region is engaging in massive regeneration projects that require rapid-transit systems. Two projects, Wirral and Liverpool Water will require rapid transit access to all major districts to succeed. Without it they will most likely fail.

Having a rapid transit underground stations in districts that previously did not have such access, will revive the districts. Evidence from other cities has proven that.

Taking a tram route through a city street area will not increase travel time compared to a modern hybrid/electric tram-like bus.

Liverpool has an existing underground/metro rapid transit rail network, with an abundance of disused rail infrastructure awaiting re-commission. Choosing any other method of rail transport over extending the rapid transit rail network is total and utter expensive foolishness. Folly!!!!

[b]No case for trams[/b]

The case for trams is so slim it is not even worth considering. In Liverpool's case, Trams cannot compete with:
[LIST=1][*]The Merseyrail rapid-transit rail network for inter-district people shifting.[*]Modern buses in city streets.[/LIST]
[b][color=blue]In Liverpool the screaming need is to extend the existing rapid transit underground system - which has most of the infrastructure in place to extend into. This will propel the city forwards creating the all important economic growth.[/b][/color]

[URL="http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/watercity/Merseyrail-Extensions.html"]Extending Merseyrail to Create Economic Growth - CLICK here[/URL]
.[/COLOR]

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