« Baltimore Throws Down the Gauntlet | Main | Oh yeah, well my bike is a genius »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I don't get streetcars. They seem to have no advantages over buses, plus the big disadvantage that they require expensive rails that have no flexibility, while buses just use the existing roads. If you want to add or change a bus route, just print a new schedule; a new streetcar route means new rails. If a delivery van is double-parked, the bus goes around, the trolley is out of luck.

A better use of the same real estate is what they've done for the Circulator bus, creating bus lanes -- although it's overkill to make them bus-only; bus-priority would be sufficient.

Other cities are considering streetcars as well -- Seattle and Miami, for instance. In both cities, boosters admit that buses are more cost effective. The argument is that buses have an image problem, and that streetcars attract riders who would never ride the bus. Sounds like something a clever PR campaign could solve.

Here's an interesting proposal:

Finally, I remember reading (and I wish I could find the link) an article comparing New York Avenue today with the early 1950's when it had a streetcar. Back then it was one lane for traffic in each direction, and a median in the middle with two tracks. Today it is four lanes each way, which required taking the front yards of all of the houses along the way, which essentialy destroyed their value. Many of those houses are now unoccupied and contribute to blight. The shocking conclusion: the avenue carried more people per day in 1950 than today. Tearing up the tracks and widening the road resulted in a net loss of capacity.

As I understand the advantages of streetcars are:

1. Reliability: Modern streetcars are more reliable than buses, because riding along a rail is less stressful on a machine than riding over potholes.

2. Learning Curve: People who don't use buses every day are intimidated by complicated bus routes and mutiple bus lines. They're much more comfortable looking at a rail map and saying "that's where I want to go". You can see this with tourists. They hardly ever use buses, even to places like Georgetown that have no metro access.

3. Social acceptability: People will ride streetcars more than buses. You vote with your dollars (and your tush) and people vote for streetcars.

Also buses aren't as flexible as it seems. Metro is always hesitant to change bus routes because it drives away riders. That's why the bus system in DC still follows the old streetcar system most of the time (the 30 buses are almost exactly the same as the old 30 streetcar).

Electric trolley buses yes. Rail track streetcars no.

See http://vancouver.trolleybus.net/pictures.htm

Electric trolley buses are good for bicycles. Steel rail track streetcars are bad hazards to bicycles. Electric trolley buses can also be made with batteries so they can travel some distance apart from the overhead electric line, or without a battery can be pushed off the roadway, and can serve around traffic obstacles and to the curb to pick up passengers, and cost less (no rails) to install than streetcars. Ele

count on DC trying to do this without learning from any other city's mistakes or any other city's studies
they will try to reinvent the wheel
and end up with a pentagram

the computer just asked me to put in a code to verify that I was human and not machine
it came up with the NUMBER OF THE BEAST
no lie

some alpha numberic characters then 666
how weird

Seattle already has streetcars. They always have. (As long as buses have been around, anyway).

The comments to this entry are closed.

Banner design by creativecouchdesigns.com

City Paper's Best Local Bike Blog 2009


 Subscribe in a reader