Saturday, August 16, 2008

NYT Streetcar Article Makes Impression

After articles in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today about streetcars didn't generate a lot of buzz, the NY Times article rocketed up to the 3rd most emailed article on at one point yesterday. This was brought to my attention by Frank over at Orphan Road.

But in the last few days, that one article set off a flurry of streetcar articles around the country.

Los Angeles - Downtown business organization sets up Streetcar Non Profit.
Over its first eighteen months, LA Streetcar, Inc., would look to raise just under $400,000. The money would be used to advocate and coordinate the streetcar effort.
Pasadena - An editorial in the town paper on beginning to consider streetcars
And the thing about such momentum is that streetcar building is so much simpler than other kinds of transit, with tracks that don't require deep digging, that city blocks are just closed down to auto traffic for a few weeks. And Seattle's line was up and running in December of last year just four years from the time it was conceived. That's unheard of in the transit world.
Minneapolis - The city has a streetcar network plan, they look towards Seattle and Portland for ideas. Also check out this "new to me" blog Twin Cities Streets for People.

An investment blog, Common Census, has an interest in the investment opportunities around streetcars. This is the first time I've seen this outside of the transit blogosphere.
As major cities look to build new streetcar systems and extend additional lines, investors should be aware of the potential opportunities these new public transportation lines could bring.
Treehugger makes the point about dedicated right of ways and calls Randall O'Toole full of %$!*
I would politely suggest that Mr. O'Toole is full of crap- I live in a streetcar city and the lines do not all go downtown, they do connect with the subway which does, but are used to go in all directions by all kinds of people. Drivers hate them (they are hard to pass and definitely slow down automobile traffic) but riders love them. When dedicated rights-of-way go in, they become fast, dependable and have huge capacity.
The Chronicle of Higher Education makes the case that streetcars and transit in general are good for student populations and school coffers.
And while streetcars can save hundreds of dollars a year in commuting costs for students and others, the lines save millions for universities that would otherwise have far more serious parking problems — and many more costly garages and space-hogging lots.


njh said...

Randall o'toole is a randy oil tool. I'm surprised that people even listen to him, let alone quote him unquestioned. Have any of his predictions ever turned true?

M1EK said...

The idea that you can upgrade streetcar lines later on to reserved guideway is ridiculous. You'd have to move the tracks, since these shared-lane systems tend to operate in the right lane.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

I agree its a bit of a hard sell if they are in the curb lanes.