Light Rail Transit (LRT) is a type of rail transportation which, through stage by stage development on the basis of modern tramways, is evolving into a high-speed transit system utilizing reserved rights-of-way at surface, underground or above surface.
Building LRT requires high capital costs, and to meet specific passenger transit objectives in a city it is essential to choose a specific LRT type. LRT is ideal for carrying 2,000 – 10,000 passengers per hour one way (with standard rolling stock filling capacity). For multi-vehicle train systems, LRT capacity can increase to 20,000 passengers per hour one way.
Thanks to its technical characteristics, LRT rolling stock can quickly pick up speed and is capable of maintaining a high speed. Because of its constructional features, for instance, a modern track, priority at crossings, etc., LRT rolling stock can move at a good speed (over 2.5 km per hour), thus reducing travel time. Moreover, it does not add to traffic congestion.
Accessibility of such a transit system, its high speed and predictability are achieved through such steps as reduced passenger waiting time at stations, low-floor vehicles, wide doors, onboard ticketing service, et al.
A type of transportation that does not create traffic jams, operates regularly and hence is reliable, LRT can also operate in complicated weather conditions, for example, during snowfall and on ice-covered ground.
Transport systems with a good suspension, moving along a good track, ensure a smooth ride. An attractive vehicle design helps to convince prospective passengers to leave their cars for public transportation. Low-floor LRT vehicles provide better access to all passenger categories, particularly for elderly people, passengers with young children and prams, and passengers in wheelchairs. Attractive and well-designed stations and information support add to the features motivating passengers to use LRT.
LRT is many times safer than driving a private car, because reserved rights-of-way and transit-priority traffic signals reduce accident risks. Passenger insecurity can be reduced if city authorities and transport operators will design stations more thoroughly and will take other necessary measures.
LRT can operate in any urban or suburban environment. At surface operation is a preferred option, but if necessary vehicles can operate under the ground or above the ground on suspended roads. This type of public transportation is excellent for serving pedestrian areas in city centers. LRT trains can move along railway tracks and operate jointly with conventional railway systems. A combined operation of various transportation types along the same rail track, and such an LRT variation as “tramway-train”, offer big prospects for LRT development in suburban areas, as well as for inter-district and inter-regional communication, thus providing nonstop passenger traffic from suburbs to city centers.
Introduction of LRT will increase the number of people using public transportation, thus reducing the congestion of private cars on city streets and the need for developing roads and road infrastructure and parking space.