For a Better Brisbane

Brisbane’s Trams

video: aussiesmithys

(Clicking the video will take you to YouTube due to restrictive copyright on the music, an unfortunate eternal bane of blogs)

The BrisUrbane Blog came across this wonderful montage of Brisbane’s trams. Trams (or for North American readers, streetcars) are not light rail, but can be upgraded to light rail standards by increasing stop spacing and introducing other priority measures such as separation from traffic and signal pre-emption. Think of a tram as doing a similar job to a normal bus on normal roads with a lot of frequent local stops.

The trams were shut down on April 13th, 1969 after frequencies on the routes had been progressively cut and fares increased (which caused a loss of even more passengers), and progressive ‘bus-titution’. A fire at the Paddington tram depot a few years earlier was the icing on the cake, destroying much of the fleet.

At the time it was argued that trams got in the way of cars, they could not pull up to the kerb like buses could, buses were cheaper and anyway, the future was a massive plan of freeways covering all points of the compass which express buses could be run on, but trams could not (even today there are echoes of this, with ideas of running buses through the North Link tunnel, now known as ‘Legacy Way’).

At its greatest extent, one could catch a tram to Chermside, Enoggera, Toowong, Salisbury, Mt Gravatt, Carina, Balmoral and other places in between. One can only envy Melbourne to retain their system, but at the time, most cities worldwide were ripping up trams, even Paris, France was doing it. And if Paris was doing it, well how could Paris ever be wrong about anything to do with making a livable city? Every city around the world seems aspire to be more like Paris, regardless of the realities, so how could it be wrong?

This video has very good picture quality and colour, which makes it great to watch.

* Background research for this blog came from Clark, Howard R. and Keenan David R.; “Brisbane Tramways – The Last Decade”, Transit Press, 1977 (Reprinted 1985). ISBN 0-909338-01-9


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January 2, 2011 at 9:37 pm

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