Trackless trams could be Perth’s new transport option

Col DuttonSponsored
UDIA WA President Col Dutton.
Camera IconUDIA WA President Col Dutton. Credit: The West Australian.

The start of a new year is always a good time to consider fresh ideas and contemplate what the future holds on a range of fronts.

For Perth, our growing city and how we can travel around it safely, efficiently and affordably is a key issue we need to consider.

Perth is one of the longest and most narrow cities in the world and most of our major transport infrastructure, especially heavy rail services, replicate this.

The State Government’s Metronet rail plan is a fantastic initiative that is improving connectivity for a range of areas, however east-west connectivity remains lacking and options to get between suburbs conveniently and efficiently still needs improvement.

This is where mid-tier public transport solutions such as trackless trams, more rapid bus networks and light rail could have a significant role in Perth’s public transport network.

In particular, trackless trams as a solution for Perth is being championed by several transport experts, including Curtin University Professor Peter Newman. The idea has merit, particularly considering they are significantly cheaper to deliver and run and require less hard infrastructure than other transport solutions.

Put simply, a trackless tram looks similar to a light rail vehicle, however they have rubber tyres and no tracks.

They operate at the speed of a light rail vehicle but are quiet and run on electric traction from batteries.

While they are autonomous vehicles, trackless trams can be overridden by a driver for added safety.

Trackless tram technology emerged from China and, right here in Perth, we could see one of the first trackless trams implemented in Australia.

The City of Stirling is championing the concept, with the city currently working on a business case to take trackless trams along Scarborough Beach Road, receiving $2 million in Federal Government funding under the Urban Congestion Fund.

Scarborough Beach Road is a well known stretch of road that is often congested at several key points, causing frustration and delays for commuters and those wanting to visit the beach.

According to the City of Stirling, trackless trams would extend 7km from Glendalough train station to Scarborough Beach, offering contemporary, sustainable transport that is less disruptive and more cost-effective to build, while retaining the benefits of light rail.

Considering options such as the trackless tram in Perth will further facilitate the delivery of the State Government’s infill housing agenda, with more areas being serviced by fast and efficient public transport.

I am very keen to see how this new innovation progresses.

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