It cost $433 million for 3.66 miles, or $118 million a mile. It’s slower than walking, at least for some trips. It significantly increased street congestion and has had an especially “negative impact on other forms of public transport,” namely buses. What is it? Dublin’s new Cross-City Tram.
Note that the videographer had to speed up some scenes so people wouldn’t lose patience with watching the slow-moving tram.
Instead of being divided into three segments on four wheelsets, like many so-called modern streetcars in the states, the Dublin trams are seven segments on eight wheelsets. That means they can carry 358 people. It also means that, much of the time, they will run even emptier than American streetcars, since it is not easy to reduce the number of segments in a car for low-use periods.
The Cross City tram is an extension of one of two tramways that first opened in Dublin in 2004. Before the Cross City extension, trams on the two lines operated about 700 trips per weekday carrying about 90,000 passengers. That’s an average of 130 passengers per trip. Assuming the average trip is about half the length of either of the lines, the average tram would have about 65 passengers, making it about 18 percent full.
So why did Dublin wreck its bus system to build a tram that is likely to run less than one-fifth full most of the time? It turns out the European Union gave the city huge grants covering, in some cases, more than 50 percent of the cost of the tram lines (the Cross City tram is an extension of one of the city’s two lines). No doubt some politicians in Dublin argued that they couldn’t afford to turn down this “free money.”