Tram Life: Kasi

November 5, 2014


My version of Helsinki’s tram schematic.

In this installment we will cover Kallio’s lifeline: The 8. Some people might say the 8 doesn’t run through Kallio at all, and perhaps they’d favor the 3 or the 9 as Kallio’s tram. I respectfully disagree with this view for a few simple reasons. First and foremost, nowhere else in Helsinki is drunken depravity as commonplace as on the 8 in the middle of the day. Second, the 8’s alignment and service corridor make pretty much the entirety of Kallio in its walkshed. The 8 is a lone and desperately-needed crosstown service north of the city center (but south of the 7), so any time anybody in Kallio needs to travel to the northwest quarter of the city the 8 is their only option. The Kalliolainen, more than anybody else in Helsinki, has been largely successful at shaking off metrophobia and embracing the Metro as the quickest and easiest route to the city center. Since the walkshed of Hakaniemi and Sörnäinen cover the entirety of center-bound trips from Kallio, most other trips are best served by the 8. Thus we arrive at why the 8 is Kallio’s tram.


The 8 making its way down Helsinginkatu in Kallio.

The 8 is the dark purple route on the map above making its way all the way from Arabianranta in the northeast, via a crosstown alignment through the north side of Kallio along Helsinginkatu, through the heart of Töölö, providing a bit of infill service before the Ruoholahti Metro station, and finally to the new residential developments on Jätkäsaari in the southwest.

The 8 is an extremely popular route. Between the riders heading from Arabia into town, or the ones coming from Kallio heading to Töölö or Ruskeasuo, or the ones going from Töölö to Ruoholahti the tram is almost always full. The tail on Jätkäsaari is the only empty portion of it these days, but that will change once people start moving into the new housing there. Providing such crucial east-west service, the most popular stretch of the route is between Sörnäinen and Ooppera with a huge influx of riders at each stop looking for a quick connection to the other side of town. This stretch is also home to some of Kallio’s most (in)famous bars, many of which cater to the daytime drinkers (read: alcoholics) roaming the streets of Helsinki in search of a quick fix. When the weather gets colder many of these people hop on the 8 to either kill time while shielded from the elements or to get from one bar to another. It’s best not to make eye contact.


The 8 crossing Crusellinsilta from Ruoholahti into Jätkäsaari.

Interestingly, not only is this line numbered the same as Metro’s #8 in Seattle, but both routes provide the only crosstown service immediately north of the city center. As such, the routes are crucial pieces to the complete transit picture in both cities. There isn’t much I would change about the 8, but an easy win is changing the terminal from Arabianranta (which it shares with the 6) to Kalasatama. Kalasatama doesn’t currently have surface rail, so this would require a substantial infrastructure investment, but the area is being rapidly developed and plans to house thousands of new residents within the next decade are in the works so installing this infrastructure is already on the horizon for HSL. Start the new 8 at the south end of Kalasatama and run it through the dense new housing developments to the Kalasatama Metro station, then run it west to meet up with its existing alignment starting at Sörnäinen.

Tram Life 1
Tram Life 2/3
Tram Life 4
Tram Life 6
Tram Life 7
Tram Life 8
Tram Life 9
Tram Life 10
Tram Life

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