Amsterdam needs a more elaborate underground mass transit system. The trams are cute and all but not very efficient or fast and they take up a lot of space. Amsterdam has a difficult history with planning and constructing underground rail systems: the Oostlijn met with great resistance when it was first built and a key section was completed years later than planned. Two decades later, the political embargo on underground railways seemed to wane, and plans for a new major underground railway line began to materialize. This was in the mid-1990s – and now, some 15 years later, construction has all but started and the buget was overshot so many times that it was suggested more than once to abandon the project altogether and reuse the already built underground structures as parking facilities.
In this pleasant context I propose the one and only right thing to do for mass transit in Amsterdam: The Singelmetro.
Singelmetro makes a lot of sense primarily because it largely follows the urban fabric of the city. This has a number of advantages. Because the route runs under the outer canal of the old city, the Singelgracht, there is minimal risk of disturbance to residents and traffic, and will cause minimal disruption to public life. Also, most station locations offer the necessary space for station access facilities.
Another advantage of appreciating the existing urban fabric is in connecting to people’s mental maps and existing transport networks. The Singelgracht route is already a major route that many residents have in their mental map of the city. Car drivers know to avoid the old city and much rather drive around it for cross-town destinations using the S100 inner ring road. This road follows the Singelgracht and it is one of the busiest roads in the city. Cross-town bicycle traffic also tends to avoid the inner city, following routes that are very close to Singelgracht as well. An underground railway line that largely follows the routes people already take is bound to be adopted much faster, because it requires no mental remapping of routes for many rides. Even the tram system usage metrics supports this: the busiest tram line is the number 3 line that has a semi-circular route around the old city.
Finally, Singelmetro connects very well to existing local and regional transport systems. Almost all proposed station locations of Singelmetro are important hubs for existing local public transport or at least connect to tram and bus lines that connect Singelmetro to old city and suburban destinations. Main interchanges will be
- Central Station for all local, regional and national connections.
- Weesperstraat for the existing underground railway lines to Zuidoost and Amstelveen suburbs.
- Weteringcircuit for connection to the future Noord-Zuidlijn connecting to Zuid railway station and Schiphol Airport.
The stations on the west section of Singelmetro connect to tram lines to the western suburbs:
- Nassauplein: tram 3 and 10 to Oud-West and Westerpark destinations
- Oud-West: trams to Slotermeer, Osdorp, Geuzenveld, De Baarsjes, Bos en Lommer. Also connects to Marnixstraat bus station, hub for regional buses to destinations west and south of Amsterdam.
- Leidseplein: trams to Osdorp, Sloten, Zuid and Amstelveen.
The two remaining stations on the east section will offer connections to trams to eastern suburbs:
- Tropenmuseum: Tram 9, 14 to Diemen, Watergraafsmeer, Indische buurt
- Rietlandpark: Tram 26 to IJburg.
In a future post I might explore impace on the current public transport system, the local impact of proposed stations, or a traffic impact analysis.