... To the editor:
Only in Vancouver would the specter of an LRT (or tramway as Europeans call them) on a major street have so many people foaming at the mouth.
The main reason why these modern trams with several articulated sections (also known as LRT) have been so popular around the world since the mid-1990s is because they run along, or across, major shopping streets.
Portland transit mall, where several lines meet, hasn't destroyed the businesses around it. Far from it. Cars don't have any problem turning left across tram tracks and sharing the roads with them either. As in many towns on several continents with big LRTs, most stations are on a sidewalk.
Seattle, too, has a tramway and it looks just like the SkyTrain, especially in the tunnel section in downtown Seattle and on the Tukwila viaduct to the airport. This is not too surprising as SkyTrain is a Light Rail Transit system (an automated one).
Tramways come in many sizes. A popular one is the Alstom Citadis 402: 44 metres long, it carry 300 passengers. The trams in Portland (Siemens S70) and Seattle (Kinkishario-Mit-sui) are 29 metres long but run in a twin unit that is 58 metres long and carry 344 passengers in Portland and 400 in Seattle.
As a comparison with Vancouver rapid transit, a Canada Line fixed pair is 41 metres long and carries 334 passengers, while a twin unit of Mark II cars is 33.4 metres long and carry 290 passengers.
Calgary's LRT ridership is much higher than any comparable U.S. light rail system at 300,000 passengers per weekday (according to Wikipedia)
Cost of a LRT: in 2007 the Portland Green line cost was $43 million per kilometre. Paris T3 tram cost of the recently opened latest section was 38 to 54 million Euros per km depending on the sources.
The latest French tramways built in a couple of small towns cost 20-30 million Euros per km ($ 26-39 Euros million km) depending on the design of the trams, the level of beautification of the streets.
Jean-Louis Brussac, Coquitlam