By 2030, urban areas will be home to more than 4.8 billion people, making the implementation of efficient and sustainable public transportations systems more essential than ever. Light rail systems are an increasingly popular solution.

What

Light Rail Transit (LRT) is an urban rail public transportation system that can be developed in stages from a tramway to a rapid transit system. It has less capacity and is slower than urban heavy rail or metro systems.

Where

Cities across the globe are looking to improve transportation in response to ever-expanding urban populations, and thus modern LRT systems are being introduced in many cities worldwide, often under a PPP. Over 450 systems are in operation worldwide, with many more at various stages of development. Major cities such as Paris and Washington, D.C. are building their first tramlines since World War II (see feature next page), while Asia and the Middle East are actively pursuing new systems.

Why

Affordable, environmentally friendly, and socially responsible LRT systems can support urban development and renewal. When well planned and implemented, they can provide vital access to city centers while helping reduce congestion and emissions, and enhance quality of life.

Electric tramways are almost certainly the most sustainable form of motorized transport available. The vehicles and tracks are easier to produce, operate, maintain, and recycle. Unlike roads, tracks have a 50-year lifespan and don’t require periodic resurfacing. With all these benefits, it’s no surprise that trams succeed at getting motorists out of their cars and cities on the right track.

Sources: Light Rail Transit Association and International Association of Public Transport.