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Author Topic: Interesting reading, the great American Street Car Conspiracy  (Read 2076 times)

Offline BribieG

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Makes the blood boil. And I suppose it's all come back to bite them.  >:(

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_streetcar_conspiracy

Offline #Metro

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Re: Interesting reading, the great American Street Car Conspiracy
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2011, 10:43:11 AM »
Tram systems all around the world collapsed post-war, for a number of reasons unrelated to GM.
So I think that the GM conspiracy is at best opportunistic- taking advantage of a pre-prepared bad situation.

Tram systems collapsed in Australian cities (Rockhampton, Hobart, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and others but not Melbourne). I sometimes question the logic that says 'you can't move many people around by public transport because 80% of trips are in car'; The observation is true but the follow-on interpretation is highly questionable.

While there is no doubt that PT would have to have a great increase in capacity, particularly at peak hour, to accommodate any growth, and that peak hour expansion of any transport system is expensive (this is true for all modes- be they road, rail or aircraft) it is well known that public transport carries a very significant amount of people into CBDs during peak hour.

The 80% number is a result of dilution:

* PT plays a significant role during peak hour. An analysis that implies that PT mode share isn't significant forgets the fact that car speeds drop dramatically during peak hour making PT attractive and that a city would have extreme difficulty functioning if it tried to move the am peak hour transport task using cars only.

* Off-peak, loads on public transport drop dramatically as load factors decrease and peak hour services are withdrawn. Much of this drop in load is likely due to the CBD-work trips disappearing and different types of trips being taken (education, recreation, tourism, medical appointments), HOWEVER there is also an untapped IMHO market in orbital and cross town travel that is not being served. There is also evidence that low service frequency is a factor- and we know this from BUZ. Network design IMHO is the other factor too- it is not feasible to run direct everywhere to everywhere bus services because demand is too low and dispersed during off-peak times. This is often interpreted to mean that 'PT is not viable off-peak' which I disagree with. A good network design would ferry people to hubs, collect a critical mass of passengers that way and then allow them to change to the service they needed without going to the CBD. A lot of people just want to go to the local shopping centre- hence the importance of things like the Great Circle Line. Didn't Brisbane trams run every 10 minutes in the off peak before they were scrapped? That's better than the 15 minute frequencies on BUZ today!

The tram died out because:

* private operation- without co-ordination from government when passenger numbers fell, networks became more important;
* Introduction of the car
* Funding the competition- motorways
* A general belief that car would be the ultimate solution and that trams were outmoded and unmodern (Clem Jones didn't think real people should go to work on the tram)
* Cheaper 'more flexible' buses (a focus on upfront capital cost, forgetting about lifecycle costs)
* Trams got up motorist noses because cars had to stop for them
* An increase in traffic congestion would have impacted on all PT as much of the tram network was constructed in Class C right of way
* Anti-PT policies (a massive increase in [free?] carparking)
Negative people... have a problem for every solution.
Posts are commentary and are not necessarily endorsed by RAIL Back on Track or its members. Not affiliated with, paid by or in conspiracy with MTR/Metro.

colinw

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Re: Interesting reading, the great American Street Car Conspiracy
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2011, 12:27:48 PM »
I wouldn't say that tram systems collapsed so much as were deliberately killed off as a result of changing policy.

It is true that patronage was in decline, and that all systems except Melbourne and the Adelaide - Glenelg line were closed ostensibly due to reducton in patronage.  Another factor was that most systems were severely run down from lack of investment during the war years, and needed major cash injections to modernise.  That actually occurred in Brisbane and Melbourne, with Brisbane building some very good new rollingstock and line extensions right into the 1950s.

What is tragic is that had they hung on a few more years, into the 1970s, patronage would have come good as it did in Melbourne.

Furthermore, the bus systems which replaced trams in most cities actually lost patronage even faster.  In Brisbane, 3 in every 4 public transport trips were lost to private vehicles over the 10 years from tram closure in 1969, so it could be argued that removing the trams is what actually triggered the public transport collapse.

The situation in Sydney was worse.  The system there had immense patronage levels, and public transport usage has never recovered to even remotely close to the level it was.

Only in Melbourne can we see what would have happened if we hung on.  Patronage continued to dip into the 1970s, and then slowly rebounded to the point where it is back to very high levels.  But for Clem that could have been Brisbane.

 

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“You can't understand a city without using its public transportation system.” -- Erol Ozan