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View Diary: Tea Party Issues Urgent Call for Action Against "Soviet" Arlington Streetcar...Because AGENDA 21!!! (55 comments)

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  •  Excepting the Agenda 21 stuff (5+ / 0-)
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    milkbone, Sarea, varro, ColoTim, erush1345

    I agree, based on what I've read. A rapid bus transit line would be a lot cheaper, more flexible, and serve exactly the same purpose. I haven't seen any credible defense of why streetcars are necessary. I was surprised that the local Sierra Club chapter is supporting the streetcar over busses.

    •  That's what I'm not getting (4+ / 0-)
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      Sarea, ColoTim, erratic, erush1345

      I mean, I like streetcars as much as anybody, but if Bus Rapid Transit can be established for less money and less construction, why not go with that.

      Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

      by milkbone on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 07:50:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  BRT is not feasible (1+ / 0-)
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      on Columbia Pike, because there's no dedicated right of way possibility. So, it would just be another bus, nothing "rapid" about it.

    •  Portland's Streetcar is a massive FAIL.... (1+ / 0-)
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      ....plagued by cost overruns, delays in producing the streetcars locally, slow transit time, empty cars, and fare scofflaws.

      It doesn't help that the route is circuitous, slow, and runs only every 15 minutes.

      The westside line is packed, since it goes from the Pearl District (upscale condo area), through the west end of downtown, through Portland State University, and to the South Waterfront (another upscale condo area).  

      The eastside line goes through industrial and commercial supply areas with not much housing, and has a very circuitous route across the river.

      9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

      by varro on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 08:27:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  BRT is a non-start, not possible (0+ / 0-)

      on Columbia Pike, because there's no dedicated right-of-way possibility. So, it would just be in effect another bus, when we already have lots of buses up and down Columbia Pike.

      •  From spending time in Europe (1+ / 0-)
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        I know that there's a massive difference between busses that run on a 30 min schedule, and ones that run every 10-15 minutes. And if there are already so many busses, why is a streetcar needed?

        This article argues against the BRT dream, but also shows a rendering of the streetcar, clearly running in regular traffic: So while BRT with dedicated lanes isn't a possibility, neither is a streetcar with dedicated lanes. The streetcar will be as subject to traffic as busses would be.

        It was an error for me to refer to a "rapid bus transit line" - I did not understand that implied dedicated lanes. What I meant by "rapid bus transit line" was simply a bus service that ran more frequently.

        •  I spoke to both supporters and opponents (3+ / 0-)
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          jabney, Catte Nappe, erratic

          of the streetcar, and posted about it here.  These are the
          Pro-Streetcar/Anti-BRT Arguments:

          The streetcar is by far the best option to move people in the Columbia Pike corridor. Right now, we're pretty much at maximum capacity with regard to buses, can't really add anymore. Also, given projected increases in the number of people needing public transit along the corridor - 30,000/day or more within the next 20 years - buses, even articulated buses, will simply be inadequate to meet that demand.

          *The Pike Transit Initiative website makes the case that a streetcar system "[p]rovides an affordable and high-quality transit option;" "[i]ncreases transit ridership;" "[p]rovides the greatest transit capacity and the greatest capacity for future expansion;" "[s]ustains the economic vitality of the corridor and promotes community development;" "[i]mproves walkability and livability;" "[i]mproves access to regional transit, employment, and business centers;" "[d]ecreases vehicle miles traveled and emissions;" "[s]upports additional  housing as indicated in Arlington County's Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan;" etc.

          *Constraints in the corridor mean that any option - BRT or streetcar - will NOT have a dedicated Right of Way, but instead will run in regular lanes, along with regular traffic. This means that the "Rapid" part of BRT will not be the case, but that it will simply be "bus transit," which we already have right now.

          *When the streetcar is built, there will still be buses, making this an effective, robust, multi-layered system.

          *Spending money on BRT would not make sense, given that it wouldn't be rapid - because there's no realistic way to get a dedicated "right of way" in that corridor - and also given the limits on bus capacity already seen in the corridor. Right now, buses are practically "bumping into each other" as it is. You have to deal with the needs of the corridor as it actually exists.

          Arlington has made plans to keep affordable housing in the corridor, in fact has gone above and beyond what almost any other jurisdiction has done in this regard, thus significantly reducing concerns about "gentrification."

          Meanwhile, the streetcar would increase property values along the corridor, as well as result in a building boom, resulting in economic activity and tax revenues that would far MORE than pay for the streetcar.

          People who actually live in the corridor are supportive of the streetcar, with many annoyed at the opposition coming largely from people who live in other parts of Arlington.

          Funding would predominantly be through an extra-commercial add-on tax, which means that individuals won't see their taxes go up. Also, businesses are not concerned about this add-on tax, and are very supportive of the streetcar.

          *4 out of 5 County Board members think this is a good long-term vision for Arlington, will provide a strong return on investment, will improve the quality of life along the corridor, and will open up possibilities for further expansion of a streetcar network in the county and in the region, more broadly.

          There has been a recent streetcar success story in Virginia - The Tide light rail system in Norfolk, Virginia's first such system, which opened for service on August 19, 2011, and which saw daily ridership exceeding projections to such an extent that it "reach[ed] its goal of 1 million rides 150 days earlier than had been projected." Then, in November 2012, a referendum overwhelmingly approved a ballot question asking, "Should the Virginia Beach City Council adopt an ordinance approving the use of all reasonable efforts to support the financing and development of The Tide light rail into Virginia Beach?"

          *There were people against the Orange Line coming into Arlington as well, back in the day. There are always people who oppose change and progress.

          *If the ONLY thing you look at is the initial expenditure, perhaps you'll opt to go with the cheaper project, but that's often penny wise/pound foolish.

          *A streetcar would be far more comfortable and appealing to potential riders than a bus.

          *There would be only one power line running down the street, it would not be unsightly, and it provides much better power - faster/smoother acceleration, etc. - than a bus powered by natural gas or diesel.

          •  The additional capacity (1+ / 0-)
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            offered by streetcars is a strong argument - this is the first time I've heard it. Most of my reservations about the streetcar option here are that it seems to be a romantic, more expensive solution to a problem that could be resolved by more (boring) busses. I like streetcars well, they work great in Europe, I'd love to see them in this area, but I haven't been impressed by the pro-streetcar arguments so far.

            I'd be happy to hear more about the transportation capacity argument, but many of the other reasons, eg "streetcars worked somewhere else", or "There are always people who oppose change and progress" don't do much for me...

            This is the kind of info that should be front and center:

            The most important issue for Hynes and Tejada is capacity. According to Hynes, the projected ridership on the Pike will jump from 16,000 passengers today to 30,000 passengers in 2030.

            For Hynes, it’s a math question. Current buses carry up to 60 passengers, standing and sitting. BRT carries 100 passengers, she said, but the streetcar has an even higher capacity.

            “The streetcar vehicles can carry up to 150. So right away I say to myself, ‘Then I can put one streetcar vehicle in and it carries the same amount as two and a half buses,’” Hynes said. “And as a long-term strategy to achieve the ability to carry 30-plus-thousand people a day, I need to choose the system that has the greatest potential to carry people.”

            The installation of the streetcar would not eliminate the bus service already along the Pike, but it would replace some of the buses. Passengers at current peak service times wait 2- to 3-minutes for buses. Adding more buses will contribute to congestion without providing the capacity needed in the future, Hynes said.

          •  Thx for sharing your blog post (0+ / 0-)

            I appreciate the pro/con analysis, and agree that an impartial study would be very helpful. That seems unlikely, given the circumstances, but hey.

            Arlington hasn't shown the best judgement on some recent expensive decisions (eg Artisphere, the aquatic center), which is why I'm leery of their streetcar plan.

    •  Long term versus short term. (0+ / 0-)

      With BRT, the vehicles are cheaper, and if you're just running it on roads you've already built, then it's dirt cheap.


      The buses have a lifespan of about 10 years.

      The road lanes don't fare well either.

      As opposed to light rail, where the vehicles last 30 years, the tracks last 50 years, and there's no pothole work to be done.

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