LIGHT-RAIL ROMANTICISM

The last decent Wellington mayor, Kerry Prendergast, writing of the city’s transport plans, said of light rail among other criticisms of it,

“The proposal is driven by a small group of rail enthusiasts with nostalgic boyhood memories of trains”. By God, never a truer word.

It baffles me why light rail (trams) are now being proposed in Auckland and Wellington. The conflict with other traffic, whether pedestrians or vehicles is obvious.

Since the war, world-wide trams have been removed from dozens of city centres, including our own, for sound reasons.

In some cities they’ve been resurrected slightly off-centre as a tourist novelty, such as in Christchurch, Sydney (an overhead system), and Amsterdam for example, but plainly they’ve not succeeded in that role, mostly travelling empty.

Rather than this nonsense, two things would solve the Auckland CBD problem.

First, pedestrianise Queen Street and give it a clearly marked cycle lane down the centre.

Second, ban beggars and get the riff-raff off the streets. Currently, such are their numbers, they’re a deterrent to everyone in the city centre. This has been the case after dark for over a decade but now it’s a daytime problem as well.

13 Comments

Call it Copenhagen Madness. The Wellington terrain isn’t well suited to bike and trains. Time to build another city somewhere that can cater to bikes and trains.

What were the sound reasons? In the US, the trams were removed after the tram companies were bought out by companies associated with the auto industry.

    Myth. No matter how many books or articles are written debunking this, the myth is kept in circulation by the usual car-hating, freedom-hating fanatics Sir Bob is talking about. I recommend Cliff Slater’s “General Motors and the Demise of Streetcars”.

    “…In February 1974, Bradford Snell, a young government attorney, helped create
    the myth that General Motors caused the demise of America’s streetcar system and
    that without GM’s interference streetcars would be alive and well today. GM may
    have conspired with others to sell more of their automotive products to transportation
    companies, but that is irrelevant to his contention that GM helped replace
    streetcars with economically inferior buses. That, they had done—just as they had
    earlier sought to replace the horse and buggy with the automobile.
    The issue is whether or not the buses that replaced the electric streetcars were
    economically superior. Without GM’s interference would the United States today
    have a viable streetcar system? This article makes the case that, GM or not, under a
    less onerous regulatory environment, buses would have replaced streetcars even earlier
    than they actually did…”

    Trams
    Melbourne is the only city in Australia with a network of trams. Trams share road space on most Melbourne thoroughfares, and are operated by Yarra Trams.

    Highly successful and effective.

    Eliminated in US by vested auto interests buying out and winding up (NZR in NZ?)

frederickwilliscroft December 1, 2021 at 10:56 pm

So right about Queen Street. Every time I have been there in the past 18 months I have been appalled at how much the place has gone to the dogs. The street is populated with menacing malcontents who are aggressive and intimidating. Where the police are, who knows? Perhaps manning a check point, or supervising a gang funeral. If New York can be transformed into one of the safest cities in the world – why not Auckland?

Trams seem to work very well in Warsaw and Melbourne Bob.

    Maybe find out what is the subsidy cost to the public, per passenger-kilometer. I do not believe there is any LR line in the world where this is less than the average cost per km of an average automobile with only the driver on board. And for many LR lines, it is several TIMES this.

    Warsaw is flat, there are no hills there.

Three hearty cheers for removing tramps and beggars from the streets of our cities; these smelly parasites are an eyesore and the sooner they are gone – the better!

Removing cars was a disaster in Onehunga decades ago. Random vehices with drivers safely inside, and now with cell phones and cameras, have a moderating effect on behaviour. Few dared venture into Onehunga especially after hours but it is now quite vibrant.
We had light rail; they were called trams. And trackless trains called trolley buses. All fraught, especially now when places of employment are so dispersed..

Reversion to fixed track transport in an urban environment, unless underground, is remarkably dumb and certainly reflects the mindset of the proponents.
Surely a future vision would have autonomously controlled vehicles whilst on major urban road network transit routes which then revert to driver control within the light traffic suburban enclaves.
Our leaders have mandated the progression to electric vehicles which ideally lend to this technology and can be adequately managed / controlled over the 5G mobile network now being rolled out.
The benefit is immense in that the existing road network will require no change, the commuter traffic will flow efficiently, and travel / commute experience can be enhanced with time to read the Dom, the Herald or engage with the smart phone or tablet without fear of Mr Plod.
Surely it is time that those pretending to determine our future follow the lead set by Team NZ when faced with the Bermuda Challenge and throw the technology / design ball way out for success.

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