Streetcars – Can they save America’s Cities

The entire article is here.

As to the naysayers, they didn’t get rid of streetcars in the 1950’s and 1960’s due to lack of ridership. They did it because of a cartel called National City Lines or variants thereof.

National City Lines was a front group for General Motors, Goodyear and Standard Oil. Their mission to dismantle electrically propelled streetcar systems and replace them with diesel buses. They touted the flexibility of the bus in being able to go anywhere but they neglected to mention what is killing transit agencies these days, fuel costs.

I’ve previously posted my sample letter for getting 80% or higher funding for streetcar projects. If I may be so bold, I might go a step further and require General Motors to provide say 7%, Goodyear 7% and the successor of Standard Oil 7% to make up the rest.

And anyone I’ve spoken to has said the same thing about buses. Buses are viewed as lowest common denominator transportation. Fixed rail systems aren’t viewed that way. Hell, I can tell you just my few months of riding the MBTA commuter from Providence to Boston, and then the Red Line down to Braintree, that you see a different class of people of all walks on rail than you do on buses.

The other gripe I hear about buses all the time is the necessity of transfers. For me to get to work requires two buses.  Instead I walk to the bus hub and get the bus from there. But I can understand the bewilderment about Kennedy Plaza.

I’m exceedingly tempted to do a little project just to prove RIPTA wrong. I want to go out and survey residents and business owners along Broadway and on to Manton Ave. Enlist them in my army to get a streetcar line that goes where we NEED one, not one that in my opinion benefits one or two entities almost EXCLUSIVELY. Yes, I’m talking about the current Core Connector study that links Brown University to the Lifespan hospital complex on the southern side of the city.

It’s ludicrous, ridiculous, and just plain wrong to build the line there.

Instead look at truly distressed areas of the city. One could say that the south side isn’t’ NEARLY as distressed as the Olneyville section of the city. And in RIPTA’s own documentation they show the Pearl District streetcars in Portland, Oregon. The before picture is of a downtrodden, gray landscape. The after of course is bright, with lots of foliage and s streetcar running down it.

The folks at RIPTA completely miss the point of images in their own brochure!


2 thoughts on “Streetcars – Can they save America’s Cities

  1. I live in Phoenix. It is vastly spread out and one has to drive everywhere. This is combined with an aging population who would rather die than give up their wheels. more public transportation would be so good for everybody – but it is too costly in the short run and nobody is interested in the long run.

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