This report looks at the performance of Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems and tramways in developing cities. Case study and estimation procedures have been used to examine the maximum passenger carrying capacity of various types of LRT.
The traditional tramways surveyed in India, Egypt and China all car-flows of less than 7,000 passengers per hour per direction (pphd). The more modern systems in Tunis, Budapest and Alexandria carry up to 13,000 pphd. Only the system in Manila, which is elevated (and hence segregated) along its entire length can carry flows of over 18,000 pphd.
The main problem for LRT in developing cities appears to be the level of interference from other road users, together with the difficulty of controlling and organizing a regular headway service. The inability of vehicles to overtake when others are delayed, and long turn around times at terminals compound the problem. Despite their technical limitations under developing country conditions, LRT systems are very popular, and can have advantages in improving the quality of life and civic pride. They should not however be seen as an ideal solution for a poor developing city.