The paper attempts to clarify concepts and terminology of urban transit systems. Modes are defined by type of right-of-way, system technology, and type of service and operation. Right-of-way is shown to be the most important single feature determining mode performance and cost. Advantages of partial or full separation of transit from surface traffic are defined. The basic features of system technology are analyzed. Guided systems are compared with driver-steered systems; rail systems are compared with rubber-tire guided systems; and manually driven systems are compared with automated systems. With respect to operations, it is pointed out that commuter transit should be a supplement to, not a substitute for, regular transit. An analysis of optimal vehicle size shows that, for guided systems that are in use or may be operational in the near future, minimum vehicle capacity should be 40 to 50 spaces. Based on this analysis of mode components, it appears that potential light rail applications are in medium-sized cities as carriers serving major routes and in large cities as a supplement to rapid transit. In large cities with low densities, light rail transit or light rapid transit (fully grade-separated light rail transit) also has potential for application. Small cities and special services may sometimes also use this mode. The following rights-of-way are best suited for light rail street and highway medians, railroad rights-of-way, aerial structures, and, in downtown areas, short tunnel sections.

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    • Distribution, posting, or copying of this PDF is strictly prohibited without written permission of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials in this PDF are copyrighted by the National Academy of Sciences. Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board (TRB)

    Washington, DC   
  • Authors:
    • Vuchic, Vukan R
  • Conference:
  • Publication Date: 1975

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: pp 62-76
  • Monograph Title: Light rail transit
  • Serial:

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00129812
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Apr 21 1981 12:00AM