Why Trams Work (But Integrated With Buses) Whereas Buses Alone Don’t, In Tackling Pollution Congestion, Climate Emergency

  • Nowhere have buses achieved a significant modal shift from cars to buses because for the reasons below, they cannot offer the same high quality and prestigious service as a tram and therefor do not attract car drivers who are in the congestion.
  • Trams typical get a 30 – 40 % modal shift due to fundamental engineering differences which translate into a more economic and attractive vehicle whereas a bus shift is insignificant:


  • In trams passengers are not cramped in bench seats and not stuck next to a potentially bad actors ( important for school children and young women for example) due to non-bench seats and walk through vehicles.
  • Trams are smoother and quieter than a bus due to the rails, whereas a bus has to deal with defects in the road and on a dedicated busway soon creates ruts and grooves.
  • Trams have a much higher route capacity – 12,000 per hour ( ie person per hour) than buses – only 3500. https://bathtrams.uk/relative-carrying-capacity-cars-buses-trams/ This is why Utrecht recently changed its triple bendy bus to a tram due to insufficient capacity.
  • The forgoing higher capacity, and the say 40 year life of the vehicles, leads to lower overall cost per passenger moved – more passengers per driver, lower running cost per passenger, financed at 1 % over 40 yrs lower capex.  Buses have higher running cost.


  • The above means that trams can operate at much more rapid frequency around the clock – 2 minutes in Budapest, 6 minutes in UK. Buses can’t do this because they have to accumulate enough passengers at bus stops with long service gaps.
  • Trams are much more reliable, and coupled with high frequency eliminate the 1/3 extra morning peak journeys to school by permitting even two tram journeys to be feasible.
  • Tram can climb all the hills in Bath and the road to Radstock without resort to rack or cables.
  • Any fixed rail link increases property values, and commercial activity.
  • Any fixed rail link which starts out rural soon attracts development alongside ( eg Metropolitan line – numerous examples.)
  • Numerous examples of bus schemes that have not been successful in UK eg Swansea £10m failure https://bathtrams.uk/difficulties-and-problems-encountered-with-bus-rapid-transit-in-the-uk/