Monday, August 13, 2007

Madison Mayor Kills Streetcar Proposal

Mayor Dave was getting hammered on all sides for his streetcar proposal (mostly by people who don't like public transit anyways). I guess the lesson is to not make your idea the end all be all and educate everyone involved. There was no route picked and no one understood how they worked. A lot of folks stated "They aren't right for Madison". They don't really know that, they are just scared of change. Unfortunately the opponents of everything made the streetcar their glow point, hopefully other cities will learn from this. Some folks in Madison are outraged, and rightfully so. This is a mistake not just on Dave's part, but some of the blame could lie at the feet of Kathlene Falk. Perhaps someday County Executives who root for the suburbs and City Mayors (This means you too Milwaukee) can get along and build transit networks that help everyone, not just folks who were not smart enough to figure out that traffic to downtown is what happens when you sprawl. As Portland has shown, 9,000 riders a day , even with 12 minute headways, does a lot for circulation and city vitality.

7 comments:

kenf said...

My wife and I were considering moving to Madison in a few years. If they don't have decent transit, well then forget it.

rg said...

And Madison likes to think of itself as progressive. Hah! The sad thing is, I am willing to bet that many of the streetcar opponents oppose the war and have bumper stickers on their SUV saying so.

M1EK said...

Streetcars are a stupid distraction - if you keep spending your energy overselling them, you make it way too easy for the O'Tooles of the world. 9000 riders per day is negligible compared to MAX, which is the real winner (if Portland had tried JUST streetcar, they'd probably have failed too).

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

I'll agree with the fact that streetcar wouldn't have been as attractive without MAX. I know you've been hammering people about overselling streetcars, but they can be an important part of a transportation network. I never said that they were the only thing doing the work. I urge you to go visit Portland and see what has happened there the last 6 years and ride the streetcar. The only reason its at 9,000 is that they aren't running 6 minute headways. Always a crush load at 12 minutes. If they were, i bet it would be at 18,000; hardly a low passenger density for just a 3 mile stretch of line. The Yellow line in Portland gets 12,000 riders. But its part of the network of over 100,000 a day. Do you think that part of the network was negligible?

Mike said...

Yes, they're negligible in Portland, because they're just a lunchtime distributor and a tourist toy. (And buses can do just as well at the former and almost as well at the latter). Streetcars that just replace buses aren't worth the trouble - operating cost savings are so much smaller than with true light rail.

Madison was going with streetcars _only_, too, which is a recipe for disaster.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Actually they were going to set up an RTA and levy a sales tax. There are plans in the works for a rail system(they call it commuter but it might be light rail) as well. No more streetcars though, but part of the thinking was that both would be built.

Also, there is no way you could have gotten that ridership on buses without significant expense. Also, as we've seen with Dillo's no one is going to ride a bus at increased headways that the streetcar operates at. So i guess we disagree on this point.

Mike said...

Yes, we disagree; without light rail to bring people in and through, streetcar's difference in attraction over buses is for people who can't read their watch or don't know where the buses run (i.e. tourists).

And their overpromotion plays right into the hands of the Skaggses of the world, because those, unlike light rail, really ARE "toy trains", "19th century technology", etc.

Now, in limited cases like Portlands where parking maximums exist that are sufficiently draconian to have a non-trivial impact, maybe the permanance effect can drive development. But Austin's developing downtown as fast as it possibly can today without rail - streetcar won't make a damn lick of difference here. (we make Portland look glacial).