Tuesday, April 24, 2007

When Is a Streetcar a Streetcar?

It's a good question. Streetcars are a subset of light rail and can have a number of characteristics of larger light rail. They can be grade separated such as they are in Tampa, they cost less to construct because they are lighter and don't need as deep of excavation, and yet some light rail such as in Portland or Dallas run in the street. In designing these systems, perhaps we should start looking at designing for streetcars instead of semi-metro LRT. Rapid Streetcar anyone? We don't need the heaviest vehicles if we can couple lighter ones do we? Can't we have diamond lanes? or perhaps a streetcar toll lane. If you want to drive on the lane, you're gonna have to pay a price, and that could possibly pay for the line. Of course the price would have to be high to allow cars and streetcars to run with optimal efficiency. Hmmm...

3 comments:

Mike said...

This falls into the category of "bad idea". Don't dilute the brand. LRT ought to be reserved-guideway; streetcar ought to be shared-guideway (when either one runs in the street - obviously you can build streetcar through the grass in places without it magically becoming LRT).

Did you see my crackplogs a while back about turning radii, BTW? Diluting the brand the other way - Lyndon Henry's band of jackasses calling this commuter rail start "light rail" means people now get the idea that light rail can't turn corners downtown (because our crappy DMU can't). Just what we need.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

So how do you keep the brand? And if Capital Metro did do Streetcars in a reserved guideway as would be most efficient, would you not call them streetcars even if they were the smaller LRT vehicles that Portland and Tacoma use?

Mike said...

I'm more interested in the service characteristics (mainly runningway) than in the vehicle. And, so, if they ran 'streetcars' in reserved-guideway, I'd have no problem calling it LRT.

The problem with what Lyndon did is that we've got a DMU service we're calling LRT, but it can't feasibly run in the street since it corners so poorly.