Saturday, September 27, 2008

Streetcar Networks

There are some regions which are building light rail, and some which are building light rail and streetcar networks. We see in the space race that the leaders are starting to look even further into the transit spectrum with multiple modes.

The most recent entrant? Salt Lake City
Fresh from a Northwest transit tour of Portland, Seattle and Vancouver with 28 city and business officials, Mayor Ralph Becker says a new streetcar network, beginning in downtown, is a priority for his freshman administration.
This is in addition to plans for Seattle, Minneapolis, Portland, Washington D.C., Ann Arbor, and a study starting soon in Fort Worth.


ambrown said...

As a huge transit advocate that wants to tear down freeways, build light rail and bike lanes and amtrak across this country, who has lived in portland for most of my life and has used the streetcars and the light rail...

Streetcars are Development Oriented Transit. I think they are intregral to building walkable, friendly communities and revitalizing urban cores. But I would much rather see transportation dollars spent on light rail, commuter rail, and other projects that will help the region and avoid turning the inner cities into enclaves for the wealthy that can afford it. I'm not at all against streetcars, but when we have just about zero bucks in the federal coiffers, It sure would be nice to see our money going towards the most equitable long term transit projects that do more for transportation than condo development.

*ducks, runs*

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

I guess my response would be "So?" What is wrong with development oriented transit that builds communities that the market seems to be saying are under supplied? Why do downtown Portland or other cities feel rich? Perhaps because people want to live there and will pay a premium, that is a reason to build more similar neighborhoods that allow people to ditch their cars and walk and bike. Apparently there is a demand that hasn't been met.

Also would you rather develop cities where people take a train to work and then go to their suburban house that requires them to drive every where else they need to go? What is more equitable? Building sustainable places around transit? or building transit to serve unsustainable places?

I agree we need multi-modal systems, but I don't think focusing on the suburbs and serving existing development is the only way to go. Regions have been spending money on roads for too long and I think we're going to see a change soon.

Anonymous said...

for someone who rode the last day/night of streetcars in DC as a high school senior, seeing a return before I am discontinued will be a treat.

Kevin Buchanan said...

Love the blog!

The Fort Worth study is well underway. The committee's been working for some months now, and have just got back from the Pacific Northwest on a study trip to Portland, Seattle, and Tacoma.

Our Mayor, Mike Moncrief, had previously killed a streetcar proposal in 2001 in favor of bigger emphasis on our various commuter rail projects (the first, the Trinity Railway Express, has been running between Fort Worth and Dallas for some time now, and a new one called the Southwest to Northeast Line which will run from southwest Fort Worth to downtown and out to D/FW Airport which is in planning). He was against the new proposal initially. I'm happy to say, though, that he's come around. After getting back from the trip, he declared his absolute and full support for the streetcar project. The entire city council is supporting it as well, as are several local developers and businesses.

I expect to have some more finalized routes in place soon - I've been told a map might be coming as early as the 13th. I've also been told we're not going for federal funds, and instead will be doing this entirely with Fort Worth money. The goal is to have the first line up and running very quickly - I've heard as quickly as 2-3 years from some people involved in the project.

Things are getting very real with our streetcar proposal. Times ahead are exciting. There'll be more to come soon.