Trams are back in fashion. So is a sense of collective imagination about our cities | Liam Hogan

Trams are back in fashion. So is a sense of collective imagination about our cities | Liam Hogan

Light rail is transformative, almost magically so. Cities around Australia and the world see it as the key to renewing depressed downtowns and sprawling suburbs

What is light rail, anyway? As the saying about good and bad art goes, it’s the kind of thing that you know when you see it. It tends to defy strict definitions, though: there are streetcars that run on rails in the street, there’s light rail that looks like train transport, but a bit smaller, there are trams that everyone knows about because they’re old and heritagey. It’s very difficult to draw meaningful distinctions.

What we do know about them is that they’re very dominant in streetspace, and they’re very definitely not cars, trucks, or buses. The one thing all these light rail modes have got in common is that they’re very fashionable right now. People in every city seem to want some of them. Those cities that do have them – like Melbourne, with its ubiquitous “Love Your Trams” slogan – wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We will miss the mark once again if we treat this investment as simply a transit infrastructure project, as opposed to a critical city-building initiative … We must transform our main transit avenues into the future city, the city we desire, the place that we are seeking to become.”

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Source: Guardian Transport

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/22/trams-are-back-in-fashion-so-is-a-sense-of-collective-imagination-about-our-cities