Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Streetcars are Back

Today's USA Today ran an article on streetcars and it was good except for one thing. The graphic was a light rail vehicle, not a streetcar. Other than that it was a good article and it had some good quotes including one I've heard Len Brandrup of Kenosha Transit say in person.

"Streetcars have sex appeal, it resonates with folks. Developers don't write checks for buses."
So True. But what does this have to do with the transit revolution? Everything. These streetcars are doing more with land use than light rail ever dreamed while promoting a true urbanism. Not that Light Rail can't do it either, but its kind of like showing the older brother up. The land use changes can happen around light rail, but it seems more linear around the streetcar. Hopefully we can learn how to build light rail for the same cost...the fact that they are different escapes me...but i'll write on it later.

So what is the next generation of this phenomenon? The Beltline in Atlanta is a good place to start. It was a scare earlier this year for BRT but the good folks of ATL realized that they didn't want to be jogging and biking next to hybrid fume puffers. Good for them and hopefully the plans will be accelerated, but all we can do now is wait and see.

Three lines are under construction...hopefully they have the same results as previous streetcar starts.

Anacostia - Washington DC
South Lake Union - Seattle
Clinton Library Extension - Little Rock


M1EK said...

I see exactly the opposite - TOD with light rail, none of note with streetcar (except for our favorite exception of Portland, in which the streetcar has some dedicated runningway and already has a mature rail ridership on which to draw).

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Did you read the Hovee Report? It's posted on the Portland Streetcar website. $2.3 billion in horizontal and vertical development. It's a different kind of TOD. Tampa has gathered 1 billion in the same linear rather than single place TOD.

Welcome to my new blog M1ek. Your opinions are always welcomed.

M1EK said...

Tampa's is a joke. Portland, I gave you, although I think it wouldn't have happened if they'd built streetcar without already having a good light rail network.

Beware of TAD masquerading as TOD. As expected, I went and looked at the Boca Raton station for Tri-Rail and it's just a strip mall (doesn't even face the train station). I haven't been to Tampa since the streetcar opened, but am similarly dubious.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Check out this link... http://www.battleblog.com/user/tamparail/chsid1.asp