IMPORTANT NOTICE: This page has been moved to: The current page is no longer maintained and will ultimately be removed.

Trams and light rail
my tram home page

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This page has been moved to: The current page is no longer maintained and will ultimately be removed.

Trams are such a vital part of city life. Trams often express how a city sees itself. Neat, tidy, efficient? Dirty, depressing and decaying? Not at all? Try applying this question to the operations you know, and you'll be surprised how often the comparison works.


Freiburg im Breisgau
(trams, Polybahn)
photo gallery
(trams of the world)
sign my guestbook
(your visit counts)

tram links
to my home page
Trams play such an important part in keeping a city vital. Abandoned to cars, city centre business rapidly chokes as customers seek out of town shopping centres. Yet even so, city traders traditionally oppose new tram projects, a stance which is only slowly beginning to break. The motoring lobby of the 1960s obviously did good work in diffaming public transport and associating it with social outcasts and the poorest classes. Many traders demanded,and got, car parks and traffic right outside their shop windows. Pavements were reduced to the minimum width and public transport relegated underground or to back streets. Once lively townscapes were reduced to concrete, rubble and fumes. Yet that didn't stop the rise of the drive-in shopping malls on green-field locations. Quality of urban life was traded in for a futile attempt in a battle for automobile customers. And the downward spiral continued, seemingly endlessly.

But some cities began seeing they should be fighting a battle they could win rather than one thay had already lost. Even then, it was against great opposition from the very traders who had lost out through the rise in car traffic that the trend could be reversed. Roads were regained for their original purpose: to connect rather than divide. By removing cars, space became available for public transport, cyclists and pedestrians. Cleaner air and less noise as well as better accesibility of town centres brought more customers. People who choose to travel by public transport of their own free will often manage to save buying a car, and that saved money increases their purchasing power. These are the customers traders are now receiving with open arms rather than demading more roads and car-parking.

The breakthrough is already on it's way. Examples such as Strasbourg, which were in the hands of the automobile only a few years ago have undergone remarkeable transformations. Yet the global latency in the process of change is enormous, and too many towns are still destroying the very infrastructure that could save them. Many 1960's fallacies such as cars create jobs or people don't go to places they can't drive to are, although disproved a hundred times over, still anchored in people's minds.

Cycling, walking and public transport are all components of a strategy required to de-asphyxiate cities and to regain road space for the public good. Of the modes of public-transport available, different forms are suitable to different needs, depending on the size of the city and traffic on the route. The tram is suitable in many situations, ranging from medium sized cities, where it forms the backbone of the system and is supplemeted by bus feeders, to large cities, where trams themselves may be feeders to fast rail services.

The advantages of trams are numerous. They run on a clearly defined path allowing other road users such as cyclists and pedestrians to predict their movements. Trams can be built for high capacities and can move more people than buses. They are cheaper to build than metros. Trams do not emit fumes and are economic on energy consumption. They blend in well in the townscape. Through the goldfish effect, they increase safety on streets and dissuade crime. This list is far from complete.

But there is a wholly different type of benefit: I find, that above all, trams are fascinating. People develop an emotional link to their trams. When the Bobigny to St. Denis tram opened in the Parisian suburbs, many people said, this was the only good thing the government had done for them in decades. Tram enthusiasts are people who take this emotional link one step further.

On these pages, I hope to introduce you to the tram systems I know especially well.

Visit my pages on Zürich, Freiburg, my tram links, sign my guestbook or email me. I'd love to hear from you.

click on photos for captions (and enlargements).
last updated 17.11.99.
counter added 17.11.99.