UrbanToronto News - the latest headlines
Construction Underway for Tridel's Scala in North York
ALSO


NYT: Downtowns Across the U.S. See Streetcars in Their Future

PukeGreen

Active Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2007
Messages
414
Likes
0
Location
Toronto
#1
Toronto is a few steps ahead of the trend this time. Here's a brief article in the NYT about various US cities planning to (re)build light rail transit in their downtowns in the form of streetcar lines.

The arguments against this seem very odd: "growth along streetcar lines is dependent on public subsidy and of little use" and "it looks like it’s going to take you somewhere, but it’s only designed to support downtown residents". Couldn't that logic be used to counter the building of any road or new public transportation anywhere? Funny how using tax dollars to fund highway building is fine, but using it to fund public transportation is seen as a socialist-style subsidy.

NYT: Downtowns Across the U.S. See Streetcars in Their Future

By BOB DRIEHAUS | August 14, 2008


CINCINNATI — From his months-old French bistro, Jean-Robert de Cavel sees restored Italianate row houses against a backdrop of rundown tenements in this city’s long-struggling Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

He also sees a turnaround for the district, thanks to plans to revive a transit system that was dismantled in the 1950s: the humble streetcar line.

“Human beings can be silly because we move away from things too quickly in this country,†Mr. de Cavel said. “Streetcar is definitely going to create a reason for young people to come downtown.â€

Cincinnati officials are assembling financing for a $132 million system that would connect the city’s riverfront stadiums, downtown business district and Uptown neighborhoods, which include six hospitals and the University of Cincinnati, in a six- to eight-mile loop. Depending on the final financing package, fares may be free, 50 cents or $1.

The city plans to pay for the system with existing tax revenue and $30 million in private investment. The plan requires the approval of Mayor Mark Mallory, a proponent, and the City Council.

At least 40 other cities are exploring streetcar plans to spur economic development, ease traffic congestion and draw young professionals and empty-nest baby boomers back from the suburbs, according to the Community Streetcar Coalition, which includes city officials, transit authorities and engineers who advocate streetcar construction.

More than a dozen have existing lines, including New Orleans, which is restoring a system devastated by Hurricane Katrina. And Denver, Houston, Salt Lake City and Charlotte, N.C., have introduced or are planning to introduce streetcars.

“They serve to coalesce a neighborhood,†said Jim Graebner, chairman of the American Public Transportation Association’s streetcar and vintage trolley committee. “That’s very evident in places like San Francisco, which never got rid of its streetcar system.â€

Modern streetcars, like those Cincinnati plans to use, cost about $3 million each, run on an overhead electrical wire and carry up to 130 passengers per car on rails that are flush with the pavement. And since streetcars can pick up passengers on either side, they can make shorter stops than buses.

Streetcar advocates point to Portland, Ore., which built the first major modern streetcar system in the United States, in 2001, and has since added new lines interlaced with a growing light rail system. Since Portland announced plans for the system, more than 10,000 residential units have been built and $3.5 billion has been invested in property within two blocks of the line, according to Portland Streetcar Inc., which operates the system.

Critics, including Randal O’Toole, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian research organization in Washington, and an expert on urban growth and transportation issues, counter that growth along streetcar lines is dependent on public subsidy and of little use.

“It looks like it’s going to take you somewhere, but it’s only designed to support downtown residents,†he said. “If officials fall for the hype and don’t ask the hard questions, voters should vote them out.â€

Cincinnati’s streetcar enthusiasts counter that they serve to shrink residents’ everyday world of work, shopping and entertainment by bringing services and businesses to one area.

“One happy consequence will be that streetcar customers who live in the area will be less mobile by choice,†said John Schneider, a Cincinnati real estate developer and downtown resident who championed an unsuccessful 2002 county sales tax proposal that would have financed a regional light rail system.

Since then, gas prices have risen sharply and advocates have started emphasizing streetcars’ ability to revitalize urban neighborhoods.

“In years gone by, people would move to cities to get a job,†Cincinnati’s city manager, Milton Dohoney, said. “Today, young, educated workers move to cities with a sense of place. And if businesses see us laying rail down on a street, they’ll know that’s a permanent route that will have people passing by seven days a week.â€

After looking into streetcar systems in Seattle, Tacoma, Wash., and Charlotte, Mr. Dohoney became convinced that they spur growth. “Cincinnati has to compete with other cities for investment,†he said. “We have to compete for talent and for place of national prominence.â€

A hundred miles north, Mayor Michael Coleman of Columbus, Ohio, has come to the same conclusion and is pushing to build a $103 million streetcar network along the city’s High Street connecting Ohio State University with the downtown business district. The loop would be paid for through a 4 percent surcharge on concert tickets, sporting events and downtown parking and a $12.5 million contribution from Ohio State.

“It is directly tied to economic development, and when times are tough in Ohio, we need an additional tool to create jobs,†Mr. Coleman said.

While critics question whether scarce city money would be better spent elsewhere, Mr. Coleman argues that streetcars are important to the city’s growth.

“We have to plan for the future,†he said. “I beliee in 10 years, we would ask, ‘Why didn’t we do this?’ It will be 10 times more expensive, and the cost of gas will be unaffordable.â€
 

Hipster Duck

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2007
Messages
3,558
Likes
8
#2
“Human beings can be silly because we move away from things too quickly in this country,†Mr. de Cavel said. “Streetcar is definitely going to create a reason for young people to come downtown.â€
Well, you won't be movin' away too quickly in a streetcar! Nyuk nyuk nyuk.

Cincinnati officials are assembling financing for a $132 million system that would connect the city’s riverfront stadiums, downtown business district and Uptown neighborhoods, which include six hospitals and the University of Cincinnati, in a six- to eight-mile loop. Depending on the final financing package, fares may be free, 50 cents or $1.
When they crack the 6,000 riders a day mark, I expect WK Lis, et al. to crack open the champagne.
 

Whoaccio

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2008
Messages
1,686
Likes
0
#3
After reading through the most riveting EA (located: http://cincinnati-oh.gov/pages/-16338-/) I can share the following highlights.

The riveting streetcar revolution will bring 4.9 miles of single track and 6 whole streetcars.

Head ways are aimed at 10mins in peak and 20mins in offpeak.

Daily ridership (with a $0.50 fare) is originally anticipated at 4.6k per day, improving to 6.4k in 2015.

This:



will be replaced by this:



...and this:


It's a revolution! Everything is going to change!


Edit: 20 Articulated buses, or 20m$ (1/5th of the project price) could have run at 7 minute headway's in both directions with identical capacity.
 
Joined
Apr 25, 2007
Messages
2,178
Likes
12
#4
Streetcars/LRT: Specifically Cincinnati,Ohio...

PG and everyone: It is good to note that more places are looking to streetcars and LRT for local transit needs-I remember reading about the two Ohio cities mentioned and l would like to add:

Cincinnati: A LRT line that runs from the NE Suburbs of Hamilton County and operates thru Downtown Cincinnati to Covington and the Northern Kentucky suburbs to Greater Cincinnati International Airport has been proposed in the early part of this decade-I remember there was going to be some sort of referendum on it but I have not heard anything about it recently. This is the first time I read about this Downtown streetcar line and I wonder if it has broad support. I also remember being told by a Cincinnati resident I talked to referring to this LRT line that the prevailing attitude there is "Why should we be like Cleveland?" referring to that city's rail system and in state city rivalry.

I read the Cato Institute comments about the proposed line and I agree that their mentality about public transit is along the lines of socialism in their view and the mentality is if it can not make money why even build the line?

The Greater Cincinnati/Hamilton County,Ohio area can be described as politically one of the USA's more conservative cities and government in that region seems to follow that idealogy. Where else can you find a roadway called "The Ronald Reagan Cross County Highway"?

On the other hand Columbus-which is now Ohio's largest city-is looking at a multiple route LRT system operated by COTA-Franklin County,Ohio's transit system. The attitude there may be quite different for this proposed system.

I just wonder how things would be today if we had kept many of those streetcar/trolley systems that died out over the last century due to sheer shortsightedness how much better off we may be due to high fuel costs today. Well-who would have thought?

My thoughts and insight on this topic-LI MIKE
 

Whoaccio

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2008
Messages
1,686
Likes
0
#5
Building LRT, or anything above local bus routes, is a total waste of time and energy. It's not that they can't turn a profit, it's that even with massive subsidies they wont even carry a significant number of people. Cincinnati's streetcar project is being pitched with a $0.50 fare. I would bet actual costs would be closer to $2.50-3.00, which works out to quite a hefty subsidy. For all that money, it will carry 6k people a day. I'm all for public transit, but you can't force a horse to drink water. All of these American cities need to seriously readdress there zoning and land use policies before they build our generation's equivalent of the Detroit or Miami PeopleMovers.
 
Joined
Dec 24, 2007
Messages
13,601
Likes
2,781
Location
Toronto, ON, CAN, Terra, Sol, Milky Way
#6
Building LRT, or anything above local bus routes, is a total waste of time and energy. It's not that they can't turn a profit, it's that even with massive subsidies they wont even carry a significant number of people. Cincinnati's streetcar project is being pitched with a $0.50 fare. I would bet actual costs would be closer to $2.50-3.00, which works out to quite a hefty subsidy. For all that money, it will carry 6k people a day. I'm all for public transit, but you can't force a horse to drink water. All of these American cities need to seriously readdress there zoning and land use policies before they build our generation's equivalent of the Detroit or Miami PeopleMovers.
Better than parking your 2 tons of metal, rubber, glass, and plastic which uses up real estate that can be used for food, work, residences, or parks.
 
Joined
Dec 24, 2007
Messages
13,601
Likes
2,781
Location
Toronto, ON, CAN, Terra, Sol, Milky Way
#8
10 and 20 minute headways? For a streetcar?

Are they serious?
For the United States, that's fine by them. I was in New York City and thought there was a problem with the subway, but it was actually the headway. The TTC subway headway is 5 minutes in off-peak, in the New York City subway it is 10 minutes in the off-peak at the station where I waited.
 

Hipster Duck

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2007
Messages
3,558
Likes
8
#9
Whoaccio,

1) Betting on WK Lis to reply in defense to this thread is sort of like betting on Michael Phelps at the Olympics

2) I'm in Phoenix right now and I can tell you that they have a much more effective and cheaper way to shuttle people around downtown. It's a series of minibuses called "Orbits" that start out at a central point, fan out into surrounding neighbourhoods and then reconvene 30 minutes later. It runs every 10-15 minutes and it's free. Is the service lucrative? Hardly. But it also doesn't cost many millions to set up like any light rail/streetcar line and it ultimately serves the same purpose.
 

androiduk

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2008
Messages
6,667
Likes
584
Location
Yonge & Bloor
#12
streetcars

From a purely humanist view, this is wonderful news. Streetcars are definitely the most civilized form of public transit. Subways are kind of depressing and most passengers have a very vacant look on their faces. Buses are a bit better but are very noisy and jerky. Streetcars travel at a very leisurely pace and allow passengers the maximum interaction with the city outside of walking. ( i didn't include cycling because you're too busy trying to stay alive)
It should also be noted that, as opposed to most U.S. cities, Toronto has a thriving and growing core. We must be doing something right. I know streecars can be expensive but happiness and progress are not always measured in dollars and cents.

androiduk
 

Just_Chris

Active Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2008
Messages
101
Likes
0
#13
10 and 20 minute headways? For a streetcar?

Are they serious?
Exactly. Why waste tons of money if you're not going to have frequent headways. Maybe after midnight 10-20 minutes would be acceptable, but in the middle of the day? Terrible.
 

doady

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2007
Messages
3,763
Likes
122
Location
Mississauga
#14
10-20 mins is actually probably really good frequency by American standards.

BTW, do you know that Cincinnati's transit system is called SORTA? It's true.
 
Joined
Apr 24, 2007
Messages
7,701
Likes
194
Location
Imperial City
#15
From a purely humanist view, this is wonderful news. Streetcars are definitely the most civilized form of public transit. Subways are kind of depressing and most passengers have a very vacant look on their faces. Buses are a bit better but are very noisy and jerky. Streetcars travel at a very leisurely pace and allow passengers the maximum interaction with the city outside of walking. ( i didn't include cycling because you're too busy trying to stay alive)
It should also be noted that, as opposed to most U.S. cities, Toronto has a thriving and growing core. We must be doing something right. I know streecars can be expensive but happiness and progress are not always measured in dollars and cents.

androiduk
Streetcars are civilized but subways are depressing? What kind of incoherent tripe is this? Sadly it seems to be the attitude of the TTC of late. I don't get where this romanticism of a slow-moving streetcar comes from. How is a leisurely streetcar ride preferable to a fast subway ride? Sure, if you have the time, take the streetcar. However, if you're on a schedule, or are trying to get somewhere by a certain time, you're going to take the subway.