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Efficient as a tram, flexible as a bus

Posted: 10 April 2017 | Roger Kesteloot, Director General of De Lijn | No comments yet

Roger Kesteloot, Director General of De Lijn, explores the advantages of the tram bus as a mode of public transport when the construction of subway or tram infrastructure is not a feasible solution to reduce traffic congestion in cities.

Efficient as a tram, flexible as a bus

Ask anyone about their memories of the ‘City of Light’, and nine out of 10 times they’ll say the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe – all of which are impressive and photogenic locations that have been immortalised many times over. One of my fondest memories of Paris, however, isn’t something you’ll find when Googling images of the French capital. This is not surprising, really, since it is something that sees little daylight, yet millions of people experience it every year. I’m talking about Métro Line 1.

Line 1 opened in 1900 and is the oldest metro line in Paris. It covers the most important axis from east-to-west and largely follows the Champs Elysées and Rue de Rivoli. A fascinating fact for public transport enthusiasts , but the reason that Line 1 has been indelibly stamped on my memory is that it has been running on rubber tyres since 1964. For the sake of historical context, Métro Line 11 – from the central Châtelet to Mairie des Lilas in the east – was the first rubber-tyred metro line in the city. A second interesting fact is that all trains on Line 1 have been operating fully-automatically since December 2012.

The advantages of a subway network are well-known: large capacity and excellent punctuality thanks to separate and non-conflicting infrastructure. Aboveground, a tram on its own track sections rivals that of the subway, but what if you don’t have the time or budget for tram infrastructure and its accompanying vehicles? Buses are not an equivalent alternative, first and foremost due to their lower capacity. And in order to ensure a commensurate number of passenger spaces, a large number of buses would be required. In this situation,

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