Light rail is a form of public transport providing fast, efficient, clean service to people in urban areas. It uses electric vehicles, running on tracks in existing roads, separated from other traffic. It’s designed to carry lots of people, with connections to buses and suburban trains at major interchanges.
French public transport planners have developed what they refer to as The Art of Insertion. The art of inserting light rail into a city like Wellington requires embracing five design principles:
- Tie the city together.
- Light rail lines typically extend from urban fringe to urban fringe via the city centre.
- Use high-performance transit vehicles.
- That means large capacities, all-door entry, train-style off-board (e.g. on-platform) fare payment, level boarding, and signal priority.
- Have widely spaced stops.
- Light rail stops are spaced far enough apart to improve travel times, but they’re placed at critical transfer points with feeder buses or other major lines.
- Reach major destinations.
- That’s a given for good public transport, but light rail lines emphasise access to education campuses, office complexes, hospitals, and shopping areas, in addition to major suburbs and the CBD.
- Form the core of an integrated public transport network.
- Bus lines are reconfigured to serve major light rail stops, and fare programmes encourage easy transfers from mode to mode, including suburban rail services.