WHAT IS A TRAM, ANYWAYS?
tram (-car) n. (Brit.), passenger car running on rails on a public road. Streetcar, trolley (U.S.)
Today's trams are larger and more technically complex than their predecessors. Some still run on conventional street trackage, but avoiding traffic congestion is the goal of today's transit planners. Modern LRVs (light rail vehicles) run on rails laid on high-speed private rights-of-way at, above or below grade. Tramways (tram systems) are called light rail transit.
Is a tram which runs underground a tram or a subway train? Should a streetcar running on railway-style tracks still be called a streetcar? The semantical wrangling can get ugly. We'll address such issues and more.
I am a tram buff (some might say tram geek). This website is one of the vehicles I use to share my knowledge of trams with the world. As a North American, the perspective of this page will reflect my background. So why do I call trolleys trams? I kind of like the term--I guess I naturally picked it up in my study of LRT throughout the world. The technology remains the same, though the word is different. The one thing I do object to is the North American tendency to call those pathetic little theme park tour buses trams.
Rochester, N.Y., USA
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UPDATED 17 MAY, 2000
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