About Tramfacts

The world is evolving fast. It used to be that taxpayer funded bureaucracies and regulatory bodies were all we had to keep the world safe and functioning properly. But as the world evolves, many have come to realize that such organizations are not and never were the only option for getting a job done. When someone needs to go from point A to point B on something important and time critical, these organizations do not always represent the shortest path.

Many local communities have been working together to solve their own problems and bit-by-bit this frees up “big government” (see here for an example) to focus on larger scale issues, such as where our energy will come from in the approaching decades. What is changing this millennium is that people who are more geographically disperse are now able to form communities as well.


Geographically disperse communities can now thrive thanks to the internet and the birth of social media. This site has been created to bring together members of such a community – the Inclined Residential Tram Owners.

Trams go by many names, such as “Inclined Residential Elevators” and “Hillside Elevators” – but these names are potentially misleading. We have to place a stake in the ground for what is considered “In Scope” versus “Out of Scope” for our site and this community.

Out of Scope

1) Indoor Residential Elevators and Lifts

Indoor residential elevators and lifts are out of scope. Elevators inside a building need to meet “indoor” levels of safely. A rider cannot necessarily see what’s happening outside of an enclosed indoor elevator because of the enclosing walls. For example, a home owner may not be able to notice that an enclosed cable is starting to fray and needs to be replaced. Indoor elevators need to be especially suitable for elderly people to ride. If they are installed inside a house where young children are allowed to roam freely, then they need to be made child-proof as well.

On the other hand, outofdoors there are lawn mowers, lakes, pools, roads with cars on them, snakes, spiders, lightning, cliffs, and all manner of dangers that we accept as par-for-the-course for ‘The Outdoors’. It is an environment where children are allowed to play – but only when their parents feel that they have reached an appropriate age and level of maturity. Most people see the outdoor and indoor environments quite differently from a safety perspective. For example, people rarely, if ever, feel the need to child-proof exterior outlets with safety plugs. Instead, they simply do not let their young children venture outside unsupervised.

The trams that this community is concerned with are outdoor conveyances that are exposed to the elements. Because they are predominantly unenclosed, they are inherently easier to regularly and casually inspect. For example, a home owner operating a tram would be able to see if something unusual happened, such as if a tree had fallen tree on the tracks or if a gardener was standing in the path of the tram while trimming a hedge. Operating an outdoor residential tram, is similar to operating a rider-mower or a boat-lift in this regard.

2) Golf Carts or Segways on a Steep Winding Path 

Golf Carts, Segways, etc. on a steep winding path are out of scope. Certainly, constructing a serpentine pathway on a hillside and driving a golf cart or Seqway up or down it every day is an interesting alternative to installing and maintaining a tram on a property. However, this alternative is out of scope because it deals more with landscaping, geo-engineering, and battery operated vehicle maintenance than the specific kinds of issues that tram owners face. Also, as far as alternatives go, this approach deserves its own community. Our community does not want to recommend that people try to drive a Segway, laden with groceries, up or down a steep serpentine path to access their home. Likewise, steep foot paths and stairs represent a different solution to the same problem. Our community is dedicated to the “tram approach” to solving this class of problem – but not to all approaches to solving the problem. We seek to make tram ownership and operation more accessible. We want trams to be seen as a vastly superior alternative to struggling up a steep flight of stairs with a weak heart or trying to keep a golf cart or Segway from veering off course on a hillside path.

3) Commercial and Industrial Elevators and Escalators

Commercial and industrial elevators and escalators are out of scope as well. These conveyances are heavily used predominantly by the public. The public generally places their trust in the government and its regulatory agencies to look out for their interests in public spaces. Like the airline industry, the public elevator/escalator community is subject to scrutiny in the press; therefore, their accountability is very high. The members of that community strive at all costs to preserve their largely untarnished and near-perfect safety record.

Residential trams, on the other hand, are on private property and are clearly privately owned and operated. For this reason they are viewed differently when approached by Joe-public. A person who hasn’t ridden on a specific tram before knows that they are on unfamiliar and private property. They will stop and make a risk assessment. This is a process similar to what they would do if a stranger offered them a ride in a car or small plane as opposed to if they boarded a train. They will visually inspect whether the tram looks well maintained, think about whether the home owner is a responsible and trustworthy person, check for a suitable means of egress incase of power failure, and decide whether they actually know enough to safely operate the tram. They will consider alternatives – such as taking the stairs if there are stairs available. They will check in with the home owner by cell phone or intercom if that is an option. These are vastly different behaviors from what happens when people walk into a mall, commercial building, or airport and board a public elevator, escalator, or similar conveyance.

Therefore, the private residential tram community and the public elevator and escalator community are separate and distinct communities. It may be appropriate for these communities to liaise on occasion when it is seen as mutually beneficial. But it would not be appropriate for the two to merge into a single community since their requirements and operating constraints are so fundamentally different. Such a merger would be akin to the airline industry merging with the rider-mower mechanic community. While both of these communities care deeply about safety, the airline industry is not overly concerned about its pilots being chopped up by inadequately shielded propeller blades, and the rider-mower industry does not obsess about birds flying into rider-mower engines.

So what is TramFacts about?

We are a community of home owners who are eclectic enough to have purchased a non-cookie-cutter property that has, or could benefit from, a tram. Most of us value both privacy and community. We value the right to be different and the right to be expressive. But above all we are a responsible community.

This site is a place where we share our views and any relevant information we have concerning our responsibilities as tram owners.

An On-Line Community of Tram Owners