Motorists in Sydney's CBD and surrounds will notice reduced speed limits when they return to work this week following the introduction of the city's new light rail network.
In an effort to ensure safety around the recently launched routes, new speed limits came into effect on December 1, 2019, with reductions of up to 20 kilometres per hour in some areas.
The key affected areas include the Sydney CBD, Surry Hills, Moore Park, Centennial Park, Randwick, Kensington and Kingsford. Speed limit reductions have also taken effect in Surry Hills and Darlinghurst for consistency.
On a section of George Street in the CBD, the speed limit has been reduced from 40km/h to 20km/h, with the same reduction also occurring on Chalmers Street in Surry Hills. Other areas have seen reductions of 10km/h.
In line with the changes, increased road signage has now been introduced, as have on-the-ground staff who are able to answer questions about light rail operations.
Sydney's light rail system offers three key routes, two currently operational (the L1, opened in the late 2000s, and the L2, opened in December 2019), with a third (the L3 from Circular to Kingsford) on schedule to open in March 2020.
The changes may take some getting used to for Sydney CBD motorists given the last time trams went down George Street in the city was in 1958. Transport for NSW reminds motorists to never drive in a tram way, never queue across intersections, never turn in front of a tram and not to stop or park within a tram lane.
However, aside from speed limit changes, no other new road rules have come into play since the implementation of the light rail network.
"There are no new road rules, they are the same road rules that applied before construction. Legislation and the associated regulations have not changed," a Transport for NSW spokesperson told CarAdvice.
"The difference is the road/transport network having trams on it and the road safety risks have changed accordingly."
How does Sydney's light rail compare to Melbourne's trams?
Sydney's light rail regulations are distinct from Melbourne's tram network, which has no tram-specific speed-limit zones but a number of tram-related road rules motorists must observe.
Melbourne motorists will know that passing a tram with its doors open and stop signals on is illegal, as is stopping or parking within the 20 metres leading up to a tram stop sign (unless a parking sign specially outlines that this is allowed).
Once a tram closes its doors and all pedestrians have left the road, motorists can pass the stopped tram at a speed of no more than 10km/h.
Of course, Sydney's light rail differs from the Melbourne network given its vehicles only operate in their own dedicated lanes or in pedestrian zones that only designated traffic can access.
Meanwhile in Melbourne, 75% of the tram network is shared with vehicles and other road users.