The internal layout of PPM trams and railcars is intended to make full use of standing space to provide maximum capacity. This is turning out to be quite acceptable for short-hop journeys where passengers do not mind standing for a journey lasting just a few minutes.
Trams Used To Be Mainly Double Deck
Light Rapid Transit vehicles such as the Modern C A F supertram photographed in Corporation Street Birmingham dominate the area and many people in the street behave as if the tram is a train, and the road, a railway line.
GUIDE TO THE PERPLEXING MIX OF LOCAL TRANSPORT
A briefing for those who wish to better understand the differences between LRT, Trams, ‘Bus Rapid Transit’ and Guided Busways.
A ‘made up’ scene based on the old photograph of Newport Road, Cardiff as if present day bus priority measures were in force. In the foreground state-of-the-art number plate recognition cameras. The original photograph taken in 1939 shown below is in the National Tramway Museum’s collection.
Once bus priority is in place the normal road traffic huddles in the middle of the road creating severance for anyone wishing to cross the street, which will also have uncomfortable amount of exhaust fumes in the air.
And not just the exhaust fumes! In heavy traffic conditions the surface of the road becomes worn down by the tyres of all the road vehicles, and the tyres get worn by contact with the roads. The fine dust impregnates the air with particulates which are as harmful as exhaust fumes. So what was it like before all the road traffic congestion?
THE WAY WE WERE
Restore the scene to how it was and in place of the cars and bus the same number of commuters are packed into a double deck tram, moving freely along its tracks embedded in the centre of the road. No ‘tram priority’ measures are needed. The tracks stay clear and the whole road is available except when the tram is there.
THERE’S A BUS THAT THINKS IT’S A TRAIN
There are several examples of former railway alignments have been converted from steel rails into ‘guideways’ formed from reinforced concrete beams on which specially equipped buses can be steered automatically like trains are by their flanged wheels. The new kerb-guided busways are being operated quite successfully as they provide more predictable journey times by being segregated from the rest of the traffic on all or part of their routes. The buses are nearly standard fleet vehicles but require to be fitted with side acting guide wheels which protrude outside the envelope of the bus when it turns sharply. Meanwhile the guideways are expensive and require more maintenance attention than sleeper track railways.
A TRAIN THAT THINKS IT’S A TRAM
Rail vehicles have begun to return to British urban streets in a different form from the double deck unit seen running along Newport Road, Cardiff in 1939- in the picture on the opposite page
Following the typical European model, Light Rapid Transit (LRT) or Super-trams are closer in function to commuter trains but instead of arriving at a station the vehicles disembark their passengers on street and with little room left for other traffic. They are a popular and successful mode but their application is limited due to their disproportionately large size compared with other vehicles.
AND A BUS THAT THINKS IT’S A TRAM
If a hen can be taught to quack it may think its a duck until it tries to swim. The ‘Sprint’ Bus Rapid Transit vehicle has covers concealing its rubber tyred wheels making it more tram-like and with an articulated trailer section in tow and elegant styling, the mode aims to reproduce the attractive features of LRT without running on rails. Bus priority measures clearly speed up the journey for bus passengers but can be controversial if they take away road space that was previously available for other traffic. Previous experience with ‘bendy-bus’ operations in London, York and Swansea revealed disbenefits in the areas of road safety, revenue protection and the difficulties retrieving broken down vehicles.
WHY NOT SIMPLY A SMALL TRAM?
The Class 139 railcars that have operated 7 days a week on the West Midlands Rail Network for the last 7 years are already considered by many of their passengers to be ‘trams’. This is partially because their passenger accommodation is in length and width the size of a typical road vehicle, single deck bus or traditional tram. The other reason is due to the traction system employed which is quiet and gives out no perceptible exhaust emissions.
It is considered that by reducing the floor height to enable passengers to disembark at low platforms, it will become practicable to produce a vehicle with all of the attributes of a tram and the great advantages of not requiring a continuous supply of traction current through overhead wires. People Mover technology is poised to deliver an affordable form of tram as either a single deck vehicle as shown above or modern double deck as suggested for London on the cover page.