Russia, May 20, 1999
Trains in the city? In Russia, YES!
I've never really figured out why Russia has such a fascination with the tramvai, electric trains that run on steel tracks imbedded in the street. First off, the ride is rough, with each bump in the tracks magnified by the big steel wheels, and felt right trough the hard plastic seats. Next, I swear they hold fewer people than a trolleybus, and are definitely louder!
Stepping out in Ulyanovsk
Also, unlike a trolleybus, they require steel tracks in the road. Not only do the tracks fix the route the tramvai takes, they are in constant need of maintenance and are always under construction. I've never ridden a tramvai route that didn't have a section torn up for repair, or a section that should have been!
I guess they do have a historical place in the minds of Russians, being the first forms of public transport in Russia and featuring in so many writings. Remember one of the final scenes in Dr Zhavago, where the good Doctor sees Laura from the tramvai and screams out her name? Not the same scene if he'd been on the Metro.
Too hot in summer, too cold in winter!
With so many smog producing buses and cars, I should be happy that Russia invests in such an ecologically sound form of transit. Too many times I've been running up a hill and almost been killed by a blast of bus exhaust.