Departmental Papers (ESE)


When increasing use of the private automobile intensified street traffic congestion, cities, generally pursued one or two types of policies. The "Car accommodation policy" was aimed 'primarily at accommodating the car and highway traffic, neglecting all other modes. The "Balanced transportation policy" was directed to achievement of a co-ordinated system of different transportation modes.

The former group of cities eliminated streetcars I tramways. The latter upgraded them through numerous innovations, into Light Rail Transit - LRT. The intermediate transit modes, which LRT represents, have been increasingly found effective as a solution for the cities which need better services than buses on streets can offer, but which cannot afford the high investment for metro systems.

Due to its innovative concepts, LRT is increasingly used in a number of different forms and functions. The recent invention of low floor vehicles has further contributed to the image of LRT as a major contributor to livable cities.

The paper compares the conditions and policies toward streetcars which led to their elimination from many cities in the 1950's, with those of the 1990's, which have resulted in a strong promotion of LRT systems in many cities of developed and developing countries. This comparison offers a useful lesson for the cities which find themselves now, belatedly. in the stage when streetcars are considered "obsolete". They can avoid the costly mistake of allowing transit systems to deteriorate only later to be upgraded at a much higher cost.

Document Type

Conference Paper

Date of this Version


Publication Source

Proceedings of the UITP Third International Light Rail Conference

Copyright/Permission Statement

Posted with permission from UITP.



Date Posted: 10 January 2017