Turku Tramway System

The City of Turku has had an average annual growth of 1,600 new residents over the past five years. 

Preparing for Growth

A tramway system appears to be a long-term and comprehensive method to further develop the urban region. The project aims to attract private and public investments along the tramway line, stimulate city growth and change Turku’s urban look.

As part of the integrated large-scale urban development project, the City Board, which is responsible for city administration and financial management, has set five objectives for the tramway general plan: 1) increase the city’s competitiveness and growth and make the city centre more attractive; 2) develop a sustainable urban structure; 3) create a functional transport system and attractive public transit; 4) increase satisfaction and well-being of residents, and 5) attract economically sustainable investments.

Designing the General Plan for Turku’s Tramway System

Over the years, Turku has often explored the possibility of creating a tramway system. WSP’s mandate was to design the complete tramway system and conduct impact studies to create a general plan. Our plan was based on structural model suggestions related to tramway location and land use. Our team suggested five tramway lines as part of a comparative study; from Market Square to Hirvensalo, Linnakaupunki, Runosmäki, Skanssi and Varissuo. Our recommendations enabled the City Board to select the routes for the five lines and, considering their higher potential, decided that the actual general plan would be prepared for a three-line tramway network - Market Square to Runosmäki, Skanssi and Varissuo.

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Unleashing the Growth Potential

The tramway planned for Turku includes double tracks in both directions, strong transport benefits, and a more inclined geometry than a traditional tramway. The three lines have a total of 32 stops, placed further apart than those of current bus routes. The routes are as straight and short as possible and trams will run every 7.5 minutes at rush hour. The low-floor trams provide greater passenger capacity than buses. The tramway and bus systems will be integrated for a user-friendly transport network. Turku seeks to make the tramway a punctual and competitive transportation alternative to private cars.

In our plan, the tramway system was compared with a bus rapid transit (BRT) scenario for 2035 (target year for the structural model).

By 2035, the tramway is expected to significantly impact the development of land use and urban structure. Almost 20,000 new residents and 11,000 new jobs will relocate near the three-line tramway network. Similarly, it is expected that a tramway corridor will also attract nearly 9,000 additional residents in comparison to a bus system similar to the existing one, and almost 3,000 more when compared to the BRT option.

Approximately 1.7 million sq. m. of floor area will be built alongside the tramway tracks. The construction is not intended to exclude cars from the city centre, but traffic should be redirected to better suited streets and roads. Reduced road traffic will improve safety.

Daily commutes to Turku are projected to increase by 25%, from 750,000 to 940,000. However, due to the city centre’s limited traffic capacity, car traffic can’t grow at the same rate. Daily public transit commutes are expected to increase by 52% with the tramway, almost 18,000 more per day than current numbers.

The tramway will also have a significant impact on the city’s economy. In addition to construction costs, the City of Turku will incur costs from investments, operations systems, and maintenance. Similarly, benefits will not only be gained from ticket sales revenues, but also from real estate and savings from more efficient land use.

In light of our findings, the City of Turku has requested further studies to analyze the impact of both tramway system and BRT on factors such as land use, street planning and operations, prior to making a final decision.