Tram 96 among the world’s best — but could be even better
National Geographic’s new book “Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips”, published late last year, highlighted tram routes from cities around the world, including Hong Kong, Amsterdam, San Francisco and Toronto. Seattle’s waterfront service, run by old Melbourne trams, also made the list.
Tram 96 connects many of Melbourne’s icons, including the Melbourne Museum, Exhibition Buildings, Carlton Gardens, State Parliament House, the Bourke Street Mall and Luna Park, taking about 50 minutes to cover to 14 kilometre trip.
Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) president Daniel Bowen said it was pleasing to see Melbourne’s trams ranking with the world’s best.
“Melbourne’s tram users — commuters and tourists alike — know that trams can provide a quick, efficient, environmentally-friendly way of travelling through the city centre and inner suburbs. They are the envy not only of other cities, but also of middle and outer-suburban Melburnians, many of whom wish they had public transport half as good”, he said.
But Mr Bowen added that there was scope for improving tram 96 and Melbourne’s other routes. While Yarra Trams will be introducing five trams leased from France onto route 96, more could be done to boost the service.
“Overcrowding — not just in peak times, but also weekends and evenings — is commonplace. And trams spend a lot of their time stuck at traffic lights. Speeding them up with traffic light priority would not only make journeys faster, it would also relieve crowding by making it possible to run more frequent services with the same number of trams.”
A PTUA study last year showed that tram priority could cut tram journey times by between 20% and 50%.
“It’s great to see route 96 recognised like this. But it can be made even better.”
 National Geographic’s “Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips” top ten tram rides (in no particular order):
- Toronto’s 501 Queen Street car
- Seattle’s George Benson waterfront streetcar
- New Orleans’ St. Charles streetcar tour
- San Francisco’s Streetcar F
- Hong Kong’s trams
- Melbourne’s Tram 96
- Budapest No. 2 tram
- Berlin’s Tram 68
- Amsterdam’s No. 2 tram
- Lisbon’s No. 28 tram
 PTUA: ‘Dead Time’ tolls trams, September 2007