More US cities turn to light rail systems


More and more American cities are turning to light rail trains at street level to reduce congestion in cities.

From a cost-benefit perspective, these systems make good sense. They can complement the bus service and transform the image of public transport, making it more attractive to more commuters.

Check out this NPR article:

It’s hard to find a city in America that isn’t planning, proposing, studying or actually building a light rail system. Cities as diverse as Dallas, Seattle and Washington, D.C., all see light rail as part of their future — a way to reshape their development.

There are 35 light rail systems operating in the U.S. today. At least 13 metro areas are currently building others. Many more are being planned.

Perhaps the most ambitious light rail project in the country is being built in Denver. Downtown, behind Union Station, lies a cityscape that doesn’t quite exist yet.

Why isn’t Malaysia building more light rail system in its cities? And will Penang bring back the trams?

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Labu Labi

Any update on the Melaka LRT that has gone kaput?

By the way, the ‘international’ airport of Melaka has only an average of 2 flights a week, one incoming and another outgoing to Sumatra.

Moaz Yusuf Ahmad

Referring to the Melaka monorail or the tram project that was suggested by Jayakumar & MRails. While MACC is investigating the KTMB ticketing contracts, perhaps they should also take a look at the CM of Melaka – asking how he could choose a company that has no actual experience in planning, managing or providing public transport to plan and operate the tram system, and another company that has no actual experience in building public transport has got the construction contract. All done quietly, no tenders, no objections or concerns from the Malaysian government or any wakil rakyat or the public… Read more »

John D Weatherley

Hi Anil,
I lived in Calgary Alberta Canada for a few years and while there they started their LRT system and now nearly 25 years later the whole city is just about covered. In other words the LRT is growing with the City



Have you ever made a comparison between the narrow dimly lit Smart Tunnel highway and Nicoll Highway in Singapore. The smart tunnel is just begging a disaster to happen ..a one two car pile up in the Smart Tunnel can have rapid consequences to other incoming cars…whoever built and envisioned this must be cuckoo….safety out the window Back to the MRT where majority of tracks will be underground…do you really think with out Malaysia boleh maintenance culture our puny emergency services can deal with any catastrophhic disasters underground…passengers marooned underground are as as good as gone…even Star LRT had a… Read more »


A lot of people tend to miss the point on the SMART tunnel. The SMART tunnel primary function is NOT as a highway; it is to mitigate and disperse flood in the city center. The highway portion of it is a secondary function.

Ric Francis

To Patrick, Rapid Penang was adviced that connecting Bus and Tram was the way to go and if LRT was built between Georgetown and Airport Stations along the freeway could provide interchange for quick service into city. But of cource One pewrson agreed and another just said it would not. Of cource he could see no further than a complete bus service into town.
No names no pack drill Boss agreed good idea – underdog disagreed of cource at different meetings
Ric Francis
Tramway Engineer 50years of Experience & Knowledge

Moaz Yusuf Ahmad

Hi Ric

How about sharing the details of your proposals with transit? We will give you a fair hearing and opportunity for discussion of the project.

Overall we support the idea that trams should take on the ‘heavy lifting’ for public transport in Penang – operating inner-city, ‘metro’ and ‘local’ services – complemented of course by a network of buses, taxis, trishaws & ferries.

What is most important is numbers – current capacity, projected capacity, cost-benefit analysis etc.

Our website is linked to this comment. We are looking forward to hearing from you.

Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT


Why are we not concentating our whole transport financial resource to replace our obsolete North/South bound train system. At the moment, it is a national disgrace! It took me more than 7 hours from Singapore to Seremban. Compared to China bullet train from Shanghai to Hangzhou, it took me just 40 minutes!!…on top of that, it was a very comfortable ride. I think we should have our priority right. Introduction of MRT OR LRT are are avenues and opportunities for UMNO cronies to stuff their asses with ill-gotten haram wealth!


If they complement the bus service, then by all means.

But a characteristic of Malaysian public transport is that services rarely complement each other. Heck, they only become interchangeable years later.

Ric Francis

I agree with Anil, that is the reason I support a LRT from Georgetown to Airport, with modern technoligy ,that is the way to go. I heard the knockers say what is in it for him, Nothing but to help the people who made me feel welcome from my time in Australian Army passing through and every time I still visit each year. Community service is a reward greater than wealth in return. As a Lions Club member our motto is ( We Serve )
Ric Francis
Tramway Engineer

reme ahmad

anil, with respect and correct me if i am wrong. the reason why these american cities are moving into light rail trains (LRT) and not mass rapid transit systems (MRT) is because they ALREADY HAVE underground systems, ie what we call mrt. washington and new york definitely do have miles and miles of these tunnels underground, and it would be massively costly to build more in such built-up environment in the city centres. but heck, the underground trains of these two big cities are ancient and smelly. the ones in spore, hk and even kl’s underground lrt stations are much… Read more »

Moaz Yusuf Ahmad

Reme, many of the 35 cities in the US that are building light-rail/tram networks actually do not have MRT networks in place. Instead, they have bus networks (most of the cities) offering 1-seat trips from suburban housing estates to downtown. In some cases (like Detroit) there is an ineffective people-mover service. The advantage that light-rail / trams have over buses or bus-rapid transit is that they have higher capacity, they encourage development (especially when the public transport plans are coupled with development/ redevelopment plans), and they have the effect of creating a pedestrian-friendly urban environment with calmer traffic. In many… Read more »


I still think a log flume would be best for Penang. But how about using roller-coaster tech? Some of those rides can be pretty smooth, in the smooth parts. I guess an enclosed body wouldn’t be that difficult to add. It seems odd in the 21st Century that we should be waiting ages until one enormous carriage arrives and occasionally being the only passenger on a transport weighing dozens of tonnes. It would be great – wouldn’t it – if you could travel around Penang on a roller coaster? On another subject, did you see the US SEC Complaint re… Read more »


Light rail? It is too common and very competitive. Hence there is no exclusiveness and not easily awarded to cronies.

semuanya OK kot

Agree with LBJ. How about a nuclear-powered underground or underwater system?