Now that the economy is shrinking, do trams have a future?

Me: Bearing in mind how investing in trams in the Victorian era was mostly privately funded by investors seeking incomes and growth – in times of economic growth – now that the economy is shrinking, do trams have a future?


The viability of trams in a shrinking economy depends on various factors, including the specific economic conditions, the demand for transportation, and the overall infrastructure development priorities. While it’s true that historically, tram systems often relied on private investment during economic booms, modern tram projects are frequently undertaken with a mix of public and private funding.

In times of economic downturn, governments may prioritize infrastructure projects as a means to stimulate the economy and create jobs. Trams can play a role in this, as they provide efficient and sustainable urban transportation, contributing to the overall quality of life in cities. Additionally, investments in public transportation can help reduce congestion and pollution, which are persistent issues in urban areas.

Furthermore, trams have advantages over other modes of transportation in terms of energy efficiency, reliability, and capacity. They can be integrated into existing transportation networks and provide a convenient option for commuters, potentially reducing reliance on private vehicles.

However, the financial feasibility of tram projects in a shrinking economy depends on funding availability, cost-effectiveness, and long-term sustainability. Governments may need to assess the affordability of such projects and prioritize investments based on their potential economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Overall, while economic conditions certainly influence the feasibility of tram projects, they can still have a future in urban transportation systems, especially if they align with broader sustainability and development goals.

Me: What do you mean by “development” in a shrinking economy?


In the context of a shrinking economy, “development” typically refers to initiatives aimed at improving the overall well-being and prosperity of a society despite economic challenges. While economic growth is often a primary focus of development efforts, development itself encompasses broader goals, including social, environmental, and institutional advancements.

In a shrinking economy, development initiatives may focus on:

  1. Social Welfare: Prioritizing programs that support vulnerable populations, such as unemployment benefits, healthcare services, education, and social assistance. These efforts aim to mitigate the negative impacts of economic downturns on individuals and communities.
  2. Infrastructure Investment: Despite economic contraction, governments may still invest in critical infrastructure projects, such as transportation networks, utilities, and public facilities. These investments can create jobs, stimulate economic activity, and enhance the long-term competitiveness of the economy.
  3. Innovation and Technology: Promoting innovation and technological advancement can foster productivity growth and economic resilience, even during downturns. Investments in research and development, digital infrastructure, and skills training can contribute to future economic recovery and diversification.
  4. Environmental Sustainability: Integrating environmental considerations into development planning can lead to more resilient and sustainable economies. Initiatives such as renewable energy development, conservation efforts, and sustainable urban planning can create jobs, reduce pollution, and enhance long-term environmental quality.
  5. Inclusive Growth: Emphasizing policies and programs that promote inclusive economic growth can help address inequality and social disparities. This includes measures to support small businesses, expand access to financial services, and ensure equitable distribution of resources and opportunities.

Overall, development in a shrinking economy involves adapting strategies to address immediate challenges while also laying the foundation for long-term resilience and prosperity. It requires a holistic approach that considers economic, social, and environmental dimensions to foster sustainable progress despite economic downturns.