Tram line to Steveston should be a no-brainer

A tramway line to Steveston should be a no-brainer as automated LRT (SkyTrain, Canada Line) is too expensive with its elevated tracks or tunnels and we badly need better transit outside of Vancouver.

Unfortunately–with the exception of Surrey Mayor Diane Watts, who has actually seen and used Portland MAX LRTs and the streetcar—most of our politicians and the public at large are clueless when it comes to tramways (as the Europeans call them, regardless of their size) that have become so popular, first in Europe then in other continents, since the town of Strasbourg in France opened a big and beautiful tramway in 1995.

Tramways or LRT—whatever you prefer calling them—have the same size and passengers load as the vehicles used by SkyTrain and the Canada Line.

The Portland Max and the the Seattle Central Link LRT each have cars with three articulated sections that are run most of the time as a twin set (two independent cars hitched together). These sets are 58 metres long and can carry 344 passengers in Portland and 400 passengers in Seattle.

By comparison the Canada Line uses pairs of permanently joined cars that are 41 metres long and can carry 334 passengers.

The SkyTrain Mark II cars (the ones with a rounded nose), that are a permanently joined together pair, are 33.4-metres long and carry up to 290 passengers. SkyTrain now runs Mark II cars as a double pair, with a possible load of 580 passengers.

While the Seattle tram doesn’t needs that capacity yet, it could run with a double set (four cars, 800 passengers).

European Alstom tramways most popular model, the Citadis 402, with seven articulated sections, is 44 metres long and carry 300 passengers. It is seldom twinned but could. Its smaller brother, the 302 (33 metres long) is often twinned in some towns—permanently on Paris tram line T2—carrying 440 passengers.

Although historical trams have their place, we have too mediocre a transit system in Metro Vancouver to waste money on a small tram, unless there a lot of them and they are working hard and efficiently, like the small Arakawa trams in Tokyo that cater mostly to residents and shrug off their historical attraction.

Tourists that have never seen a huge modern tram are just as fascinated—if not more—by them as they would by a historical one. As a bonus the modern ones are much more comfortable and are part of course of a city wide tram network.

I was raised in a part of the world where towns have many historical buildings going back to the 17th or 18th centuries, if not the Middle Ages or even earlier. They aren’t museums but places where we live, work and play everyday.

Jean-Louis Brussac, source: richmondreview

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