This isn’t really a unified post, just some random thoughts I’ve had about the tramway proposal in my spare time.
I’ve been thinking about the type of trains, more specifically the floor height. First, let me establish the basics: There are basically three types of trams:
1. High Floor Trams
These are step-up trams. They’re still used in Toronto, but they’re being phased out just as they are in most cities because they’re almost completely inaccessible to wheelchairs, strollers, bikes, the elderly…
2. Low Floor Trams
These trams now represent the vast majority in systems. They’re usually walk-ins: the floor is about 30-50cm off the ground, so the stations have slightly elevated platforms (curbs are usually about 15-20cm high) otherwise, they’re one-step entrances.
3. Ultra-Low-Floor Trams
These are relatively new trams which are used in only a handful of cities, notably Vienna. They’re sidewalk-boardable, so about 15 to 20cm high.
I personally favour the third option since it is sidewalk-boardable and you can make stations along streets without new infrastructure. However, since it’s relatively new, it might pose maintenance problems. If not, low-floor trams are the only option since the high-floor option is inaccessible to a great deal of people, many of whom use transit in high percentages.
An interesting compromise might be to have low-floor trams with ultra-low-floor door sections: you’d have a 10-cm slope from the corridor of seats to the door so you can have sidewalk-height boarding without the ULF technical complexness.
As for the layout of the cars, I favour having doors on both sides because it provides more flexibility for station layouts and offers the possibility of the ‘spanish solution’ (i.e to have a third, middle platform for exiting for faster boarding). It might remove sitting space, but I think it’s worth it.
There should also be a foldable-seat section large enough to fit bicycles, strollers, wheelchairs, elephants, whatever as well as a good variety of seating arrangements because you never know what people might need. That actually touches a very important concept that I’ll probably make a very long and passionate post about, but more on that another time.
Now for random ideas that might be a little out there:
– ‘Tint-able’ windows: Windows that have the ability to become more opaque already exist and might be an interesting solution to the problem of the summer sun beating down in the tram. A little out there, but hey, might be interesting to explore for climate control.
– In-train Wifi. I can’t imagine that this is overly expensive or cumbersome and it’s a powerful argument for taking transit if you can easily work or surf on your way.
– Garbages. Good lord, have garbage cans inside along with recycling to actually encourage people to be clean.
So, to sum it up, we need to promote accessibility with various choices and one very important one will be what type of train is used. We when one option isn’t perfect, we can try to be creative to find solutions which kill more than one bird with a stone.
So that’s it for now, but since I have no shortage of thinking time, I’ll probably be back with more on the plan between other posts.