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The Trackless Trams / Electric Buses versus Light Rail Debate Revisited

Dominion Rd Business Association manager, Gary Holmes, has got it right when he argues in favor of trackless trams to run along the iconic route and when he says that they are far cheaper and less disruptive than light rail. "Light rail in Sydney is costing about $120 million per kilometre, whereas trackless trams cost about $6m to $8m per kilometre. They can go in on existing road services and be installed in weeks or months, not years," said Holmes.

He is giving the same argument that the world's leading urban economist, Ed Glaeser, gave the Council and Kiwi government when he visited us from Harvard University a few years ago. It is the same advice that former Finance Minister, Sir Michael Cullen, has been offering via the media. Sir Michael recommended electric buses, though the principle is the same. Namely that the cost and inflexibility of the light rail proposal hugely outweighs the benefits. We have blogged on this issue before, supporting their positions.

The bottom line is that the government must abide by a proper cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of this issue, which sides heavily on the side of trackless trams or electric buses and against light rail. The little interest that both National and Labour have shown for CBA has been one of the greatest failings of public policy in this country.



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