Trams make cities more ‘liveable’



D1 Combino tram at Melbourne Town Hall.
Photo Bahnfrend.

(Click image to see original on Wikipedia and for details of licensing.)

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s last Liveability Ranking and Overview Melbourne is the best city in the world to live in while Vienna comes a close second. London trails a long way behind and is ranked as the 55th most ‘liveable’ city in the world.

The Economist’s methodology is somewhat subjective – members of the EIU panel award points for such factors as crime levels, education, health care, culture and infrastructure – and then multiply the points by a weighting predetermined for each factor.

However, it is noteworthy that, at 250 km, Melbourne has the largest urban tramway network in the world. Melbourne is the only Australian city that defied the general Australian trend of scrapping its city tramways. The retention of its tram network is due to determined opposition by the trade unions, the general public and the vision of the chairman of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board, Sir Robert Risson.

Great Britain – which liquidated its tramways in the 1950s – had no Sir Roberts, and has no cities in the Economist’s top 50. Manchester, at number 51 is Britain’s most ‘liveable’ city according to the study. Could it be a coincidence that Manchester started building a new tram network in 1988 and is actively expanding the system, partly by building new ‘inter-urban’ extensions on former ‘heavy rail’ lines?

Finally, by way of proof that trams and ‘liveablity’ go together, the Economist’s second best choice is Vienna. Vienna has a thriving tram network. Currently the city fathers have a policy of replacing tram lines in the city centre by traditional metro – somewhat similar to the current trend in Warsaw. However, what with the with the slow pace of Metro construction, its cost and the financial crisis, trams are likely to retain a key role in both city’s transport systems.

How do Polish cities fare? Unfortunately, the complete rankings are not provided in the brief FOC  ‘summary’ and the full reports cost many thousands of Euros. If any BTWT reader has read any of the full EIU Liveability reports and knows the rankings of Polish cities, do please share them with us.


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