There's been a lot of debate recently about the value of Streetcars versus Buses in Toronto, and being an anti-streetcar person myself, I felt it would be of use to outline some of the disadvantages of Streetcars, just so Torontonians won't get caught up in the false-hype being raised by the pro-streetcar advocates:
Wikipedia - Streetcars (TRAM)
Disadvantages of Streetcars versus Buses
* Streetcar infrastructure (such as island platforms) occupies urban space at ground-level, sometimes to the exclusion of other users, including cars.
* The capital cost is higher than for buses.
* Streetcars can cause speed reduction for other transport modes (buses, cars) when stops in the middle of the road do not have pedestrian refuges, as in such configurations other traffic cannot pass whilst passengers alight or board the Streetcar.
* When operated in mixed traffic, Streetcars are more likely to be delayed by disruptions in their lane. Buses, by contrast, can sometimes maneuver around obstacles.
* Streetcar tracks can be hazardous for cyclists, as bikes, particularly those with narrow tires, may get their wheels caught in the track grooves.
* Steel wheel Streetcars are noisier than rubber-wheeled buses or trolleybuses when cornering if there are no additional measures taken (e.g. greasing wheel flanges, which is standard in new-built systems). Streetcar wheels are fixed onto axles so they have to rotate together, but going around curves, one wheel or the other has to slip, and that causes loud unpleasant squeals.
* Light rail vehicles are often heavier per passenger carried than heavy rail and monorail cars, as they are designed with higher durability (which means more mass) to survive collisions, since they cannot swerve to avoid oncoming objects in emergencies.
* The opening of new Streetcar and light rail systems has sometimes been accompanied by a marked increase in car accidents, as a result of drivers' unfamiliarity with the physics and geometry of Streetcars.
* Rail transport can expose neighbouring populations to moderate levels of low-frequency noise.
* In the event of a breakdown or accident, or even roadworks and maintenance, a whole section of the Streetcar network can be blocked. Buses and trolleybuses can often get past minor blockages, although trolleybuses are restricted by how far they can go from the wires. Conventional buses can divert around major blockages as well, as can most modern trolleybuses that are fitted with auxiliary engines or traction batteries.
At the end of the day, we would all be better served by having Buses as opposed to streetcars. Sure the streetcars look nice and remind us of the 1800s, but this is reality, and streetcars are causing havoc on our roads. Just take a look at King Street during rush hour, and then tell me that streetcars don't cause traffic gridlock.
PS: Diamond lanes / HOV lanes need to go as well... Definitely one of the most idiotic ideas ever developed... I mean, removing traffic lanes to help ease traffic congestion???? But that's a topic for another post..
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gandalfcunningham/3633794255/sizes/l/ by Commodore Gandalf Cunningham on flickr