Hydrogen-fuelled trams, dubbed the autonomous rapid transit (ART) system, distinguish themselves from their electric counterparts in several unique ways.
Unlike traditional electric trams that use fixed rail tracks embedded onto the roads, and draw power from overhead lines or pantographs, ARTs are basically extended buses running on hydrogen.
The beauty of ART lies in its route flexibility. It can navigate through standard roadways, tailoring its path based on commuter needs.
What’s more, these trams can run sans driver if needed, embracing full autonomy.
When it comes to refilling their tanks, ARTs outshine electric vehicles. There’s no need for a 20-minute fast charge or daily power planning, making them a convenient choice.
The real hiccup with ART trams is its need to share lanes with other road users. Unlike electric trams, which usually command their own dedicated space, ARTs have to mingle with regular traffic.
That means existing legislation may need to be amended to give priority to ART, including by allocating dedicated lanes for their use similar to those for buses, busway or bus lanes.
Reserving such lanes would require meticulous planning but will allow the system’s efficiency to skyrocket, especially in congestion-prone zones. Otherwise, the ART’s potential would remain unrealised.
In the performance arena, ART trams match their electric counterparts but have the upper hand in terms of comfort and carrying capacity, with up to 400 passengers able to ride at any one time.
They are also cost-effective, making them a viable option for smaller municipalities.
Station design would be a breeze. Think bus stops without the need for escalators or elevators. Passengers can easily hop on and hop-off, as the tram floor is designed for kerb level access.
Boasting zero emissions, the ART is a highly versatile and environmentally friendly public transport solution, tailor-made for Malaysian cities.
Kuching takes the lead
Kuching is pioneering the use of this hydrogen trams as its public transportation backbone.
This trailblazing system, a first for Malaysia, will be complemented by feeder buses, likely minibuses, to ensure seamless connectivity, solving the first mile/last mile problems in one go, from start to finish.
If all goes well, other Borneo cities like Miri, Bintulu, Kota Kinabalu, and Sandakan are likely to jump on the ART bandwagon.
The ART is a highly affordable system and can be put in place at a fraction of the cost of the LRT or MRT. It is efficient, effective, and can be used in any urban setting.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.