Friday, April 17, 2009

News from the World of Transit

Australia and Canada have a lot in common when it comes to how our cities where formed. Like the US, both countries went car-centric starting in the 1940’s and 50’s, but unlike the US we didn’t have the money to go whole-hog with the gutting of our urban centres for "progress." With that in mind, it is always interesting to see what is going on in that country.

An article in the Brisbane Times heralds “A sustainable Sydney needs bikes and trams.”
Around the world, smart cities are remaking themselves. They are investing in sustainable public transport and creating pedestrian-friendly environments, reducing their greenhouse emissions, cleaning the air, and providing places for people to meet and congregate…

…I would like to see part of the massive economic stimulus packages around the world directed to developing green infrastructure, laying the foundation for a restructuring of the economy to allow for a low-carbon future. Cities are critical to this shift. More than half the world's population lives and works in cities, which are the major source of greenhouse gas emissions. They are where we must make the biggest and most urgent changes.
Meanwhile in the US, Portland received a thumbs-up from the US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Although he mentioned the role of light rail, bus and bicycling, LaHood gave special attention to streetcar. He even hinted that he would visit Portland with a streetcar surprise.

"Streetcars are going to be a priority, certainly, as a part of livable communities," he said. "We're going to be making some announcements about streetcars very soon."
So, we better be getting a 200th St. streetcar as part of an election promise and light rail for the South Fraser. :-)

1 comment:

Light Rail Guy said...

In fact the streetcar is indeed light rail. it seems only North America seems to feel that a 'streetcar' is different to light rail.

In Europe streetcars and LRT are referred to as a tram (a railed vehicle that has a legal right to operate on-street) and a light railway is (usually but not always) a narrow-gauge railway which operates under different regulations than a mainline railway.

In North America, our overzealous engineers have in many cases, so over engineered light-rail that they have become in fact light-metro (Seattle). A streetcar is a light rail vehicle that operates on street; light rail is a streetcar that operates on a reserved rights-of-way.