91st Annual TRB Meeting
Washington, DC, January 22-26, 2012
State of the Art Light Rail: Lessons from France
French light rail (tramway) is now considered world state-of-the-art, incorporating design and planning approaches that contrast strongly with those in North America. The mobility and urban form of some 30 cities have been transformed in a remarkably short period. This session was the first step in a wider research program seeking to understand why and how this has been achieved, and what aspects might be transferable to North America. The speakers were leading French LRT planners and designers, and their presentations highlighted lessons learned as well as contrasts between the French and North American approaches. Major themes that emerged during the session included:
- French cities, like most of their North American counterparts, abandoned their first-generation tramway systems en masse in the 1950’s – 60’s. The tram is now returning, with an especially large number of French cities building new projects.
- The French use of the tramway as a tool for city shaping was emphasized; the tram project is used to beautify the city and change the perception and image of public transport.
Presentations given at the AP075 Committee Meeting