Trams for a healthier future
TramForward welcomes the House of Commons Select Committee on Transport’s Inquiry into Reforming public transport after the pandemic.
Whatever the eventual changes in work and leisure patterns resulting from the current pandemic, there will continue to be a need for mass transit to bring people into the centres of towns and cities. With the current gradual revival of public transport use, it is a suitable time to consider how public transport might adapt to meet not only the health requirements of the current situation but also of any future health emergencies that might arise.
Traffic-generated air pollution, from non-exhaust emissions (NEE) caused by tyre and road surface wear as well as exhaust emissions, is not only a major health risk in itself but also a contributory factor in the severity of respiratory diseases such as Covid 19. Trams are free from both types of emissions, as well as having a proven track record in effecting significant modal shift from cars to public transport, and TramForward continues to advocate the development of tram systems as a primary transit mode on major transport corridors.
Trams are relatively easy to adapt to social-distancing requirements, with larger circulating areas than buses and fewer seats in proportion to total capacity, and can be coupled together to increase capacity. They typically have multiple entrances which not only facilitate distanced boarding and alighting but provide regular ventilation. Ventilation could also be enhanced by simple roof to floor forced air circulation. Trams also provide a superior ride quality without the sudden dynamic events which can throw bus passengers into each other.
In its response to the Transport Committee’s Inquiry, TramForward will be calling for increased investment in steel wheel on steel rail urban transport systems, particularly tramways. While trams cannot be expected to replace all other forms of road passenger transport, they can make a significant contribution to the improvement of air quality on the most heavily trafficked urban routes where pollution is highest.
Jim Harkins, Chair of the Campaigns Group of the Light Rail Transit Association said “It is time for the government to show faith in public transport and to increase investment in tramways to create a safer and healthier future for our cities and towns”.