Two-thirds of Rīga's tram routes are still travelled by trams produced in Czechoslovakia several decades ago. Their main inconvenience is steep ascending steps, which prevent many seniors and others with mobility problems from easy access, as observed by Latvian Radio.
The first new trams began to run in 2010 but they currently account for only about half of the total number of trams. In terms of routes, they only travel between Jugla and Imanta, and Ausekļa Street and Mežaparks.
In order to be able to run new trams on all routes, it is first necessary to substantially modify the current infrastructure, said Rita Strangate, head of the strategic management department of Rīga. It is planned to complete the reconstruction of tram line no. 7 to Ķengarags by the end of next year, thus the new trams will be able to run there. It is also planned to reconstruct line 5 to Iļģuciems in the near future.
The head of the Transport and Traffic Affairs Committee of the Riga City Council, Olafs Pulks, said that the two jobs will cost €46 million, most of which will be covered by the European Union.
On line 2 to Tapešu Street and on line 10 to Bišumuiža, the old trams will probably run for the next 10 years because it is not yet known when the infrastructure will be fully restored there. Asked how people with disabilities or with, for example, prams can enter the old trams with the high steps, Pulks said that 'the society must be tolerant'.
In parallel to the redevelopment of existing tram lines, the municipality plans to establish a new route to Ziepniekkalns. The deadlines and costs are not known for the time being.