Deliver a WA-made tram network for Perth

The Opportunity

Perth is one of the most car-dependent cities on the planet. Providing a world-class electric tram network would dramatically cut emissions and put thousands of West Aussies to work through planning, construction, and ongoing maintenance.

Clean State recognises the state government’s investment in MetroNet but notes Perth’s train network caters to workers in the city and does not serve cross-city commuters well. Metronet’s contribution to the city is also hamstrung by the lack of mid-tier public transport to heavy rail stations, and it has been acknowledged that ever-crowded ‘park & ride’ facilities cannot expand.

Perth’s next public transport investment must introduce a new ‘intermediate transit system’ – faster and better than buses but cheaper and more integrated than heavy rail.

Fixed route public transport has been shown to provide investment certainty that spurs urban regeneration around their stations, uplifting land-value and enabling the development of high quality residential and commercial buildings along tram routes. This revitalises street life and helps us build more compact, efficient communities.

What are Trackless Trams?

‘Trackless Trams’ are a new innovation in mass transit technology providing essentially the same service as traditional light rail systems, but for one tenth of the infrastructure cost.

Trackless trams use the same carriages as trams but run on rubber tyres and are guided visually by lines, instead of rails. This avoids the large cost and disruption of major roadworks needed to lay tracks. They run quietly, using electric propulsion (with batteries), and recent advances in stabilization technologies and precision tracking from autonomous optical guidance systems means they have the same high ride quality as traditional light rail.

Like trams, they also harness raised-platform stations that give the fixed-route assurance necessary to spur urban regeneration and development;).

Curtin University has provided a detailed, costed proposal for a city-wide tram network (Fig 1) that services the entire Perth-Peel metropolitan region, starting with a Trial Trackless Tram route that connects Victoria Park, Perth and Morley.

The Proposal

Commit to providing a metropolitan Tram Network across the Perth metropolitan area by 2030.

Fund the world-first trial of trackless trams in Perth by 2021, starting with a Phase 1 Trial Line running in an East-West route from Burswood station to St Georges Terrace and a major North-South link along Beaufort Street to Morley, as proposed by International transport experts.

Establish a specialist Perth Tram Network Team in the Department of Transport to plan the overall network, deliver the trial, and develop Transit Activated Corridors (TAC) Plan for Perth that focuses on transforming main road corridors to a string of urban regeneration in precincts along major roads.

Two women laughing on the bus

Professor Peter Newman, Curtin University

Trackless trams enable the development of new precincts around stations due to their quiet, pollution-free accessibility that is able to replace the equivalent of 6 lanes of traffic. The resulting urban regeneration can help the infrastructure pay for itself.”

Jobs and Benefits

Trackless trams have all the benefits of light rail, but can be delivered faster, at a lower cost, and with significantly less disruption.

Trackless trams increase property values along routes and enable local governments to deliver density targets and provide high-quality urban regeneration and compact communities, bringing more people, more businesses and investment to the area.

This kind of investment to jobs ratio would see 330 people employed in delivering the proposed Perth Trackless Tram Trial line.

The metro-wide Perth Tram network is estimated to create land-value uplift and urban development that creates 53,400 construction jobs and 219,780 indirect jobs in and around the network’s Transit Activated Corridors.

Carbon savings

Improving public transport with trams increases public transport usage at the expense of car traffic. In the first six months of Canberra’s light rail operation, Canberrans made 1.3 million more public transport journeys which were estimated to reduce annual emissions by 2,596 tonnes

The ‘Trial Tram Route’ proposed by Curtin University would replace 1008 bus trips through the city, saving thousands of tonnes of Co2 and have a significant impact on both noise and air pollution.

What would it cost?

The Phase 1 Trial has been calculated as paying for itself in just over 3 years.

The initial outlay for the Phase 1 Tram Line is estimated to be $110 million, including:

  • 25 Trackless Trams ($75m – $4.33m per 3 car set).
  • Essential stations and four major recharge facilities ($32m)
  • A further $2m to plan and deliver the trial

It’s also estimated Phase 1 service would allow the rationalisation of 28 city buses, saving $33m per year.