Trams hold up the “traffic”

First of all, trams will be part of the traffic.

Secondly, with segregation of trams and properly-managed traffic light sequences etc where trams and other vehicles mix, then traffic flows, both of trams and other vehicles should not be disrupted.

And in any case, it only stands to reason that vehicles carrying around 200 people (i.e. a tram) should have priority over vehicles carrying 1, 2, 3 or even 4 people (i.e. a car).

TRAFFIC is made up of buses, cars, taxis, lorries, cyclists and soon trams (with any luck).

There is an assumption that traffic equals cars and that cars have priority – you see this in discussions about bus lanes, which somehow cause congestion, despite the fact that they carry way more people than the non-bus lanes.

The fact is that transport policy is about the flow of people through the streets, not cars. It is all about efficient use of space.

I found this quote on a site about public transport myths in Melbourne, Aus:

“The basic traffic problem is moving people, or goods, and not, as commonly and erroneously supposed, moving vehicles…. [A] traffic count taken by the Town and Country Planning Board in 1947 showed that in the heaviest half-hour of the peak Swanston Street trams carried 5,472 southbound passengers over Princes Bridge on one track, while in the same half-hour two lanes of motor cars and taxis carried 727 people, including the drivers…. It is therefore apparent that public transport is by far the most economical user of street space when considered in relation to the number of passengers for which it caters.
—Major-General Robert Risson, Journal of the Institute of Transport (Australian section), August 1955″

It is 50 years old that quote, but it is as true now as it was then.

Parades, marches will stop the network

This was posted (again) on the Evening News website:

“People still don’t get it. Trams and trolley buses cannot overtake each other or divert off their established route. So, for example, a simple thing like a street parade (just what happens in Edinburgh many times a year on Princes St) what happens then? Trams and Trolley Buses stop. Battery powered or hybrid buses simply divert and carry on….Trams & trolley buses would have simply ground the city to a halt.”

This had to be taken seriously in Edinburgh as the city does get a lot of marches etc (and street closures for Hogmanay etc). This is a bit of a drawback it has to be said and road closures would cause some disruption.

But it is NOT true that trams would grind to a halt.

What would happen is that the tram would go as far as it could, then it would double back on itself at an appropriate point and resume service in the other direction. Obviously, for the duration of the road closure you would not be able to catch a tram from Leith to beyond Princes Street, say, but in the first instance, the rest of the network/line would not suffer catastrophic disruption like it does currently with buses.

This would not solve the problem of travelling along the closed route of the tram line, but road closures for marches currently severely affect buses as diversions along Queen Street create gridlock (with or without trams/trolley buses) which has knock on affects across the whole city, which takes ages to get back to normal.

Given that we know from experience which roads are generally affected by closure for marches (they usually follow the same route – the police/council have tried and tested ways of minimising disruption) it is easy to build turning back points at appropriate places. In addition, because of trams the routes of marches could be changed to minimise the problem.

For the most part, Princes Street is only half closed as a rule during marches, even for gigantic ones like Make Poverty History (even if on that day, whilst only half the street was marched upon, the rest was still closed for traffic). So you could have a march on one half of the street AND still have the trams running.

This particular problem is grossly exaggerated, and closures/disruptions on maybe 10-15 days a year should not be a reason not to have trams. In any event, a lot of the disruption caused by road closures carries on long after the roads have re-opened as the buses take a while to get back to normal. This would not be the case with trams.