Monday, November 09, 2009

Montreal's much needed Tramway

Montreal needs a tram. Many people will disagree with this statement but it's true. Some of the reasons not to build a tramway include "It interferes with my car," and "More buses will do the same job." However, the tramway is in many ways better than buses. Also, the car should not be a priority at this time with the need to protect our environment.

Trams pollute way less than buses especially in Quebec. Buses burn gasoline to turn their wheels. However, trams use electricity to move and in Quebec, clean hydroelectricity. Using electricity also means less noise compared with the loud motor of buses.

More importantly, trams have a higher capacity than buses. More cars can be coupled to form a kind of "double tram" during peak hours and uncoupled during the calm hours. They wouldn't need an extra driver like buses would. In general, trams have a bigger capacity than buses. This could help us especially on Côte-de-neiges and Parc avenue. The 535 special rush hour bus line is at full capacity. No more increase in service is possible. The bus arrives every minute at its stops. Most times it is packed. A tram could solve this problem by doubling up with another tram.

For all car users, the tram would be better than reserved bus lanes. Tram right-of-ways are narrower than those of buses. That's because they need less clearance as they follow a fixed track. Therefore, car users will keep more or less the same space on streets already equipped with reserved bus lanes.

Research has shown that former car users represent 30-40% of tram customers. This would translate into less congestion on the road and less car emissions. This is because tramways are most often associated with a good image. I would go as far to say that there would be less graffiti on trams than in buses because of this better image.

Tramways ensure greater rider comfort than buses. Bus drivers in Montreal constantly speed, juggling the passengers around. I can't blame them; everyone disobeys the speed limit in Montreal. However, for rail-based vehicles, obeying the speed limit is brought to a whole new level.  Unlike bus drivers, the central control system for trams will always know if their drivers are speeding, therefore ensuring the safety and comfort of the passengers.File:Paris-tramway.jpg

Trams' multiple doors allow for a smaller loading time. Instead of just loading in the front like buses, trams allow people to enter through its many doorways from the front to the back. That allows the trams to leave the station faster which lowers the time of travel.File:KasselKoenigsplatzStrassenbahn2477.jpg

This is not a new idea. Many European and American cities have embraced the tram. Their buisnesses and ridership bloomed like never before. Such cities include: Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, Barcelona, Adelaide (Australia) and many more. This could help Montreal just as it helped those cities.

The visual pollution of wires has been solved by Bombardier's PRIMOVE system. Their technology allows electricity to be transmitted through the ground to the tram. This has been used for many years in the transportation of different parts in factories. It is completely safe to anyone walking on the tracks. It is not safe however if you're underneath the tram for any reason. For more information click here.

Obviously, tramways are the solution for Montreal's transit problems. They will allow more capacity, more comfort and less pollution. The visual pollution of wires can be solved with Bombardier's PRIMOVE technology. Trams are our great public transport future.


  1. Are there any tramways in cities with extreme winters?

  2. There are Tramways in Kazakhstan. It has cold winters and hot summers. The Trams run all year long.

  3. Montreal had tramways till the 1950s. I've just started posting a series of vintage postcards of Montreal tramways such as this one:

    Evelyn in Montreal

  4. To be honest, having experienced 'trams' in Toronto - I can't think of a worse idea. The streetcars here are high cost/low reliability.

  5. Mos streetcars in Toronto are over 20 years old. Some are as old as 30. It's just natural that with new technology these days, there should be less of a maintenance cost.

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  7. I've seen same electro trains in Bordeaux, France last summer. They look really cool.
    BTW, are you interested in going green tips?

  8. I live in Montreal, and if we do add the tram it would be agreat Idea, it will mix well with the bikes, metro and pedestrians. Sadly I have a feeling that they will not add the tram cause the bus system just bought the articulated buses (the extented buses).

  9. Montreal's previous tramways were unidirectional and Toronto shows no signs of converting the legacy system to bidirectional running notwithstanding that the new tranit city lines will be bidrectional. But the transit city lines will also have a minimum curve radius of 25 metres, as opposed the the traditional tramway minimum of 15m let alone the 11m curves on Toronto's legacy system.

    *At busy termini there is often not enogh time to chage ends, so regardless of the rolling stock, it often needs to be a loop.
    *If most or all lines have loops at both ends and all other termini are wyes, then the advantages of unidirectional rolling stock can be considered.
    *Traditiolally tram stops have been on the nearside, so trams that can be built with driver's cabs at one end have doors on one side. There will thus be more seats and most will be fixed front facing.
    *Having doors on only one side means that there is neither the posibility of the driver opening the wrong doors (which would nesseitate the provision of fences to protect children and absent minded adults), nor the need to provide software to prpvent such mistakes.

    *Short working is also handled by either intermedaite loops by triangular junctions where available. Unidirectional trams also have basic sets of rear controls which can be used for reversing. These are regularly entering depots, in this case the depot simply needs a triangular junction at the entrance, often available even for bidirectional rolling stock.

  10. I appologise for the omission of two words:
    These are regularly [used for] entering depots.

    Also, On some larger networks, like that of Prague, there are also some double ended trams that can be used on lines temporarily truncated for trackwork, and many other smaller networks have a practice of running unidirectional trams in back to back coupled pairs with only the lead vehicle being used for passengers.
    While Prague does have some bidirectional rolling stocck, all lines have loops at both ends and so the network is entirely unidirectional.
    The previous tramway network of Sydney had loops at all CBD termini* due to traffic levels. Only three lines, to the suburbs of Marouba, La Perouse and Coogee had loops at both ends** the rest all had tail tracks' and all rolling stock was bidirectional. So Sydney was entirely bidiretional.

  11. I left out the footnotes too:

    *the Wynyard terminus was a two track stub but phisically separate from the main system
    **The North Bondi line also had a suburban turning loop, but the line was later diverted and thi was replaced with a three tial track terminus when the line was divierted.


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