Monday, June 8, 2009

Oh Noes! Streetcars Go Slower!

The Salt Lake Tribune apparently doesn't get the point of Streetcars AT ALL.
According to the UTA's own study, capital investment for expanded bus service on 2100 South would cost only $10 million. The streetcar would cost $37 million. Buses are more expensive to operate, but you could run expanded bus service for 26 years on the difference in capital cost between buses and the streetcar.
Great, run buses on a private ROW that has a ton of development potential. No comments on the difference in development that will result or the benefits of electric transit. Also, they apparently also haven't even taken a look at Portland, Tacoma, or Seattle to see if people actually ride.
TRAX has shown that Utahns will ride trains when they won't ride buses. That might be another point in the streetcar's favor, except that Utah doesn't have experience with a slow-moving streetcar system.
Oh noes! Not a slower moving streetcar! It operates nothing like Trax in downtown Salt Lake!!!


Justin said...

I have this argument with fellow transit enthusiasts. Many would prefer to spend billions on one transit line, because they feel it would be fast, and speed attracts riders. It's such a out-dated argument.

Matt Fisher said...

Must be their idea indeed. But I'm quite sure streetcars and light rail have their own functions. Most of the new light rail systems in North America I refer to personally are examples of what I call "full LRT" in the sense of, for instance, larger sized trains.

M1EK said...

You're being rather harsh on them - Salt Lake is still a city where essentially all their prospective increase in transit business is among choice commuters, not people who are willing to sell a car and move downtown.

Choice commuters do, in fact, care most about speed (and reliability).

You can get all the great urban stuff on a rail line as long as it's full of commuters with money from day one. If it's not, because it's a lame ride, then the urban development doesn't happen anyways.

Note that Portland built a lot of reserved-guideway light rail before they ever bothered with shared-lane streetcar.

AJ said...

M1EK, the Portland Streetcar has been in planning since 1990, when MAX ridership was roughly 1/3rd to 1/4th of current ridership and over half of the track ran at street level with more than 30 ungated crossings and a single crossing over the river at a lift span which at the time was holding a higher lift frequency due to a slowly deteriorating lift mechanism (it's a telescoping lift and until the mid-90s wasn't in the best of shape). Fairly slow, I'd say, especially with a few 8 minute delays thrown in every so often.

Also, at the time, the Blue Line was the only line in operation, Westside MAX was only in planning (in fact, 1990 was about the worst years for that planning, with difficulties arising in the area of planning the alignment through the west hills). By 2001, ridership was a little over half of what it is today when the Streetcar opened.

I also have to point out that Sugar House is indeed a vibrant and upcoming neighborhood. In fact, when Craig Mecham heard that the one guy's trolley plan was getting off the ground, he demolished his currently held properties in the middle of Sugar House to make way for several taller structures.

Matt Fisher said...

The "Oh Noes!" part would surely sound like Popeye. "I can't stands no more!"