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Fidelius Krammel

You can´t know this as a visitor, the circular tram lines, the famous lines 1 and 2 have actually been changed to radial/tangential lines only about 2 yrs ago. They now approach the city now from the periphery, follow part of Ringstrasse and leave it again for a Terminus in the outskirts.

Funny, I came here through your comment an Portlands new bikeways! I´m a cycling advocate here in Vienna. I see Your in Berlin now already, too bad. It would have been interesting to meet up.

Send You an email too.

Max Headway

"If you have a downtown circulation need, the first step should always be to figure out how to use services that are already there"

One example in Brisbane is the Spring Hill Loop (formerly route 323), which connects downtown with the neighbourhood immediately to its north. Never mind that the 321 departs from the same stop, cuts through Spring Hill, and runs to a major hospital! Within the downtown itself, several "City Gardens" routes run to outer suburbs, but have grossly inadequate service levels, whilst a free loop covers similar territory every 10 minutes on weekdays.


Vienna's network layout has an operational advantage for riders: many locations on the Ringstrasse can be accessed without a transfer (i.e. trips starting on the green or purple lines), and all trips (other than those using the brown line) can be made with at most one transfer. With a ring line, a greater proportion of trips would require a transfer.

The Wikipedia article has a good geographic-based map that illustrates the ring function nicely, for those that prefer them over schematic diagrams.


By the way, I have to wonder if some of the enthusiasm for downtown transit loops is coming from people that are more familiar with downtown highway loops and don't realize that transit routes are inherently different from highways.

Andy Nash

The Ringstrasse was the location of Vienna's city walls and the open space in front of them. Unlike many European cities that open space was fairly undeveloped - the army was quite powerful - and so when Vienna finally decided to tear down the walls in the late 1850s there was lots of room available for new construction. Almost all the buildings on the Ring were built within 30 years, at pretty much the height of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The U-2 line is interesting, and somewhat problematic, because it was originally an underground streetcar line that was converted to a metro. This means that stop spacing is not ideal and several stations have separate entrances for different directions of travel. But, generally speaking it's a quite effective line. The recent extension makes it even better.

Vienna's a great city to visit and the public transport is quite excellent.

Alon Levy

For larger loops than the Ringstrasse, circular lines are often at their best when they facilitate transfers. Line 5 of the Moscow Metro, a ring 19.4 km in length, was built as a way of relieving the downtown transfer stations. I don't know the history of Berlin's Ringbahn and Tokyo's Yamanote Line, but both work as circulators and as ways of getting people from suburb to suburb, and are their cities' rail systems' busiest lines.

Daniel Sparing

As Fidelius already mentioned, Vienna did have a circular tram line 1/2.
(This numbering is pretty similar to the Berlin S-Bahn S41/42, and plenty of metro networks also have circle lines, as in Glasgow, London, Moscow or Beijing.)

Many were questioning if it were a good idea to stop the ring tram, and, well, today the Ring Tram is back as a yellow tourist attraction with special fares.


*Tracks* structured in a loop seem to be often more useful than *routes* structured in a loop.

Consider, for instance, the Chicago, um, Loop. There are no full looping services except on special occasions (when other lines are shut down); but the lines pass around or through the loop on their way to their distant destinations.

The Circle Line in London is an interesting example, too; Circle services are the first to get cut if there are any operational problems, but the Metropolitan and District Lines continue to use the tracks so that you can make a full loop with at most one transfer.

Melbourne found that looping the tracks benefited its suburban trains, and so did Sydney.

I can probably think of effective one-way streetcar loop examples with a little thought, too. I think the crucial point is that downtown loops of track act as a sort of distributed "center station" for suburban lines, where one monumental center station would have been unbuildable, and the local circulator function is just gravy.

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