The results of a study commissioned by the City of Tallinn indicate that of five proposed new tram lines analyzed, the one connecting Liivalaia tänav with Kristiine District has the most potential, as it would serve an area with the most prospective riders. The city will make a decision this fall, and is expected to pick two of the proposed tram lines to build.
A tram stop analysis for the proposed Kristiine-Liivalaia tram line indicates very high service potential for stops along this route, as this is one of the most densely populated parts of Tallinn, including with among the highest densities of jobs and functionality as well, a working version of the study notes.
Veiko Veerpalu, one of the authors of the study, told ERR that while the study has not yet been finalized — which it should be either in the second half of August or sometime next month, following a round of approvals — the Liivalaia line is indeed the one with the greatest potential.
"But also the most expensive and complex," he acknowledged. "There is a high density of people there who would like to use public transport and a lot of people would board at each stop, but there are other concerns there as well."
Beyond the high price tag, it's not so much the construction of the tram line itself but the changing of people's habits that may prove difficult to change, as with the construction of the tram line, the entirety of Liivalaia tänav, one of the Estonian capital's main arteries, would need to be rebuilt, leaving much less space than before for vehicular traffic.
At the same time, the city is planning on reconstructing Liivalaia tänav anyway, tram or no tram.
"It's difficult for the people to get used to — to start taking public transport, and that vehicular traffic should be redirected to other roads — and for some people that may initially seem unfamiliar and disconcerting, but it's certainly better in the long run," Veerpalu said.
"There are plenty of examples in Western and Central Europe of city streets that were previously 4-6 lanes wide but have been redesigned to center human traffic. Public transport throughput is severalfold times higher than vehicular transport and takes up less space. Thus it would be reasonable to replace a vehicular lane with a public transport lane in the city center and redirect cars elsewhere."
According to plans, the tramways along Liivalaia tänav would run down the middle of the street, which would also include public transport lanes open to buses as well.
Veerpalu noted that another upside to the Liivalaia route is the fact that it would by the city's only tram route to bypass Viru väljak and the adjacent Hobujaama stop.
The Tehnika tänav-Liivalaia tram could travel from the traffic junction in Kristiine to the intersection of Liivalaia tänav and Tartu maantee in eight minutes, from which it could then travel along the existing tramline to Narva maantee before turning east toward Kadriorg and then continuing along a new tramline likewise analyzed in the study toward Lasnamäe District — more specifically, to the planned Tallinn Hospital.
Currently, however, the construction of the planned new megahospital, previously considered a certainty, is in jeopardy, and latter potential new tram line along with it, Veerpalu said.
Planned stops for the Liivalaia line include at the intersection of Endla tänav and Suur-Ameerika tänav, near the intersection with Pärnu maantee, at the intersection of Liivalaia tänav and Veerenni tänav, at the intersection of Hospidali tänav, Kentmanni tänav and Liivalaia tänav, in front of Hotel Olümpia, just before the intersection with Tartu maantee and on Pronksi tänav.
While the City of Tallinn would like to see the tram turn onto the existing tramway at Tartu maantee, the authors of the study nonetheless recommend building a new tramway along Pronksi tänav, which would increase the tram line's service speed.
The other three potential tram lines analyzed in the study were Tondi-Järve, Kalaranna and Pelguranna. The Tondi-Järve route is already served by train, and compared with the Liivalaia line, the potential Kalaranna and Pelguranna lines wouldn't serve as many potential riders.
Editor: Aili Vahtla