Something up north is now being spoken of as a trackless tram.
The irony in Queensland is that a regional city has higher-capacity street
public transport than the capital city.
On Thursday, 18 November 2021 at 22:47:41 UTC+11 TP wrote:
> I see some very concerning signs about Melbourne's trams in that piece.
> First, it surprises me to read that there's no political intention to
> update the coverage of the system by building logical extensions to new
> centres and train stations - which is something that's done in tram systems
> around the world, including Australia outside Melbourne. This would help
> explain the otherwise puzzling stagnation (including patronage) of the past
> few years.
> Secondly, the proposed downgrade to smaller trams (in contradiction to the
> earlier logical stance, cited by Daniel, that larger trams were needed to
> address the ongoing critical capacity shortfall).
> Thirdly, we now have this guided bus talk being worked up, which is not a
> solution at all because it provides little more capacity than an
> articulated bus service but with greater establishment costs. However, such
> a guided bus would provide the same capacity as the smaller next generation
> trams, which suggests a little conspiracy is afoot.
> It seems to me that they're not going to boldly announce the closure of
> the tram system, as they did in Sydney, Brisbane etc. They're going to
> whittle it away by stealth, putting a ceiling on capacity and gradually
> hiving off under-performing parts of the network to convert to "BRT". It
> would certainly explain the lack of enthusiasm for progressing system
> accessibility, the huge backlog in which will became a convenient excuse to
> convert routes to buses. The question is - is this only Labor or also the
> attitude of the Liberals?
> It goes without saying that Melbourne doesn't deserve to go down such a
> path. It would be a disaster.
> Tony P
> (who thinks the pieces of the puzzle are finally falling into place)
> On Thursday, 18 November 2021 at 21:26:46 UTC+11eme...@... wrote:
>> Just one comment on the need for upgraded roadways or not.
>> In Adelaide on the O-Bahn busway, which is a very similar operation in
>> principle, the concrete pavement has worked reasonably well. It's getting a
>> bit rough now, but that's after about 35 years, so not unreasonable.
>> However, in the CBD itself with conventional asphalt paving, the pavement
>> in the Grenfell/Currie Street bus-only lane suffers quite badly from
>> development of ruts, and requires a lot of attention. A guided bus would be
>> worse, because the wheels would traverse a much narrower path over the
>> paved surface.
>> Thus, from the Adelaide expexperience it would seem that a conventional
>> asphalt pavement would be insufficient, and a reinforced concrete pavement
>> is required. Now, in that case, the cost difference between tram and guided
>> bus isn't quite as much as the promoters of busway would have us believe.
>> Next, if that's the case, why not hedge the bets on taxpayers' money, and
>> put rails into the busway anyway. If the busway fails, or if the busway
>> supplier decides to abuse their monopoly, then the conversion to a
>> conventional light rail is feasible. Finally, there's no reason why a
>> mixed bus and tram service couldn't run down such a corridor.
>> On Thu, 18 Nov 2021, 7:47 pm Greg Sutherland, gregsut...@...>
>>> TRANSPORT https://www.danielbowen.com/category/transport/
>>> Trackless Trams – pros and cons
>>> - Post authorBy Daniel https://www.danielbowen.com/author/db/
>>> - Post dateThu 18 November 2021
>>> - 7 Commentson Trackless Trams – pros and cons
>>> [image: Trackless trams at Chadstone (Artist impression)]
>>> Federal Labor is getting behind
>>> a “Trackless Tram” idea for a route from Caulfield via Chadstone and
>>> Monash Uni to Rowville, pledging $6 million for a business case if they win
>>> power next year.
>>> *The proposal is* to run from Caulfield via Dandenong Road past
>>> Chadstone, then Ferntree Gully Road, Blackburn Road past Monash University,
>>> and then along Wellington Road and Stud Road to Rowville.
>>> The route is very similar to the current 900 Smartbus route, but is more
>>> direct between Caulfield and Monash, and is claimed to be faster.
>>> The map below (from this document
>>> shows the route, and proposed travel times for TRT (“Trackless Rapid
>>> Transit”) against other modes from locations either side of Monash.
>>> [image: Trackless tram: Caulfield-Rowville proposal]
>>> Note the map shows a connection with the proposed Suburban Rail Loop
>>> station at Monash University. This station won’t actually be on Blackburn
>>> Road, but nearby.
>>> The problem with trackless trams
>>> Trackless Trams are controversial in some circles. The Public Transport
>>> Association of Canberra has this new article talking about the hype and
>>> reality around the technology
>>> A Trackless Tram is arguably an elaborate bus. It typically includes:
>>> - battery electric vehicles (eg it’s not a trolley bus using wires)
>>> - vehicles designed to look like trams
>>> - dedicated right of way
>>> - some special tech for a smoother ride than the average bus
>>> So it’s basically a fancy guided
>>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guided_bus Bus Rapid Transit system
>>> operated by battery electric vehicles.
>>> One claim I’ve heard is that Trackless Trams are used in 200 cities.
>>> This is a wild over-estimation… but Bus Rapid Transit *is* used in
>>> about 200 cities https://brtdata.org/ (including Brisbane
>>> Sydney and Adelaide) – possibly this is the origin of the claim.
>>> Another, earlier claim about Trackless Trams was their suitability as
>>> driverless vehicles. This seems to have disappeared from most recent
>>> proposals – I suspect the technology has not been shown to be ready for
>>> prime time.
>>> There are other concerns. *The weight of the vehicles* necessitates a
>>> special heavy duty road surface
>>> This means they can’t regularly divert off the route if there’s a
>>> disruption, and it also means the construction cost may be substantial, as
>>> it might include moving underground services. If the road surface is
>>> unsuitable, you get problems with damage to the road.
>>> Another big problem is establishing one line with *unique technology*.
>>> This means high establishment costs, and difficulties with unfamiliar and
>>> new equipment. (Victorian public transport doesn’t have a good record with
>>> new technology. Myki’s okay now, but remember the mess when it started
>>> Perhaps this wouldn’t matter so much in a city with no existing
>>> medium-capacity transport system. But Melbourne already has a huge tram
>>> and has considerable expertise in building, maintaining and running them.
>>> And although a Caulfield to Rowville line (of any technology) might need
>>> its own depot, a tram track connection with existing route 3 at Caulfield
>>> would mean new tram fleet could easily access existing tram maintenance
>>> Alongside issues of new/unique technology are the risks of *vendor
>>> lock-in*. No single manufacturer has exclusive rights over established
>>> standard tram or bus technology, meaning that future expansion or
>>> maintenance is more flexible and price-competitive. Not so Trackless Trams.
>>> Finally it’s worth noting that in the Chadstone/Monash Trackless Tram
>>> proposal, the vehicles would have their own dedicated lanes along the
>>> route, but they’d still cross paths with other traffic at intersections.
>>> When asked, the Vicinity proponents said they were *not proposing for
>>> traffic priority* at intersections – presumably to keep the cost down.
>>> So it’s in danger of being not much faster than Melbourne’s existing
>>> lane-separated tram and bus routes.
>>> The advantages of Trackless Trams
>>> Challenges aside, if Trackless Trams are a fancy form of battery
>>> electric Bus Rapid Transit, what does that mean?
>>> It becomes about marketing.
>>> In Victoria they don’t want to build tram lines – there’s been continual
>>> resistance to even very short but logical extensions
>>> very few recent extensions built, and the proposed Monash/Rowville
>>> light rail idea
>>> https://www.danielbowen.com/2018/04/10/caulfield-to-rowville-tram/ seems
>>> to have gone nowhere.
>>> And of course they never properly resource buses. Even the premier
>>> Smartbus routes never had adequate weekend frequencies
>>> But Trackless Trams *have got people excited*. Political buy-in means
>>> that from this Caulfield-Chadstone-Monash-Rowville proposal we might
>>> actually get a willingness to provide a good service: a direct route, high
>>> frequency at all times, and speed.
>>> Maybe it is just a fancy bus. But as far as I’m concerned, they can call
>>> it whatever they want if it provides some good outcomes for passengers.
>>> Hopefully the special “track” surface requirements would mean that
>>> on-road priority couldn’t be watered down later by allowing other vehicles
>>> to intrude. And the plans seem to include high-standard stations with good
>>> pedestrian access into Chadstone and other destinations.
>>> And yes, it might end up being cheaper and quicker to build than light
>>> rail. Maybe.
>>> [image: Queue for 900 bus, and Oakleigh extra bus, Chadstone on Boxing
>>> What about fixing the buses?
>>> It’s important to remember that while some people don’t see buses as
>>> “real” public transport, when it comes down to it, there’s no shortage
>>> of people who will use them
>>> if they’re provided when and where people want to travel. Make them good
>>> enough, and they are popular
>>> So while the powers-that-be make up their minds on Trackless Trams, why
>>> not fix bus route 900
>>> Beef up the frequencies to at least every 10 minutes at all times, make it
>>> more direct (the stop at Huntingdale isn’t really as important when the 601
>>> shuttle is running – and this could be extended to run on weekends and late
>>> evenings) and improve the on-road priority.
>>> Perhaps a truly effective bus service would undermine the Trackless Tram
>>> idea too much. But on the other hand, it could also help justify further
>>> investment – in that, or in conventional light rail.
>>> TT: doubts remain
>>> It’s not hard to see why Vicinity/Chadstone wants better public
>>> transport to the centre. No matter how big they make their car park, it’s
>>> still a constraint on shopper numbers.
>>> *Trackless Trams have potential.* But doubts remain around the costs,
>>> for this proposal the lack of traffic priority, and most importantly the
>>> risk of an immature, orphan, proprietary technology.
>>> Some sources indicate the government is seriously considering the idea.
>>> They will need to tread very, very carefully.
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>>> 7 replies on “Trackless Trams – pros and cons”
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>>> Thu 18 November 2021 at 8:38 am
>>> According to the weights in the linked paper, ordinary road surfaces
>>> would be suitable as these vehicles will have gross weights lower than
>>> similarly sized trucks, and axle weights within the limits that apply
>>> across the nation. That would be essential because they need to use tyres,
>>> and tyres (of a normal size that will fit into a truck, bus or ‘tram’)
>>> aren’t be rated for unusually high loads unless speed and distance are
>>> The trouble with these vehicles is that they would lack the stability
>>> that is provided by rails. Using a multi-articulated bus – which is what
>>> they are – would require either a sophisticated control system to
>>> manipulate the couplings, suspensions and brakes to avoid sway and maintain
>>> straight-line tracking, or it would require very low speeds. Possibly both.
>>> The paper briefly mentioned updating ADRs to suit these vehicles, but this
>>> is not a trivial task and has never happened quickly. It will be especially
>>> difficult when (if) authorities ask for evidence that the vehicles will be
>>> dynamically safe. They are not magic. There is a reason actual trams have
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