Posts Tagged: Bukit Panjang



Luminus via Tractus by Steven Dale


Rendering of the under-construction Blue Light Rail line in Lagos, Nigeria. Image via

Remember: Light Rail Transit (LRT) isn’t always Light Rail Transit. And that goes for all forms of public transportation.

Anyone recall our CPT / ART debate?

While we may like to pretend we work and live in a scientific field, the world of city-building and transit is anything but scientific.After all, there’s no official taxonomy of public transit technologies and I doubt we’ll see one anytime soon. (Note: While Vukan Vuchic’s Urban Transit textbooks have helped a lot in resolving this issue, even he admits to the slipperiness of transit vehicle definitions.)

Maybe we need a more defined definition of Light Rail Transit (Luminus via Tractus perhaps?), but until that time comes it’s important for everyone understand that the definition of a public transit technology isn’t arbitrary and objective – it’s subjective and as much about marketing as it is about anything else.

Consider the under-construction Blue LRT line in Lagos, Nigeria.

This system has confused more than a few people as all estimates of ridership suggest something far more robust than LRT (Yonah Freemark hints at this confusion in a post from a couple years back). From a technology perspective it’s virtually impossible to imagine any single LRT system carrying half a million riders per day (as this Lagos State Government document suggests), yet all the imagery (see above for example) and reports (see previous link for example) categorically reinforce the idea that Lagos’ first urban rail line is to be LRT in nature.

But it’s not. And we know that because of this:

Last week Railways Africa reported that Lagos state governor Babatunde Fashola has visited Toronto, Canada and is prepared to purchase a fleet of 15-year-old decommissioned subway cars in order to service the “light rail project.” The subway cars in question look like this:

"Light" Rail. Image by flickr user Loozrboy.

This is Heavy Rail Transit (HRT). Or Subway Transit. Or Metro Transit. Or Whatever You Want To Call It Transit (WYWTCIT) – but it’s clearly not Light Rail. There’s obviously a disconnect here between one person’s definition of Light Rail and another people’s definition.

That’s not to suggest nefarious doings or shenanigans on the part of anyone. It’s just to point out that when you read statistics about any given transportation technology, it’s important to consider the lens with which those statistics are being viewed through.

Calling Heavy Rail “light” doesn’t make it weigh any less.

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