Slow to build and expensive to operate, streetcars could be the most maligned mode of transportation in America, Governing Magazine
says in its June issue, but cities keep building them.
This could be a banner year for streetcar openings, Daniel Vock writes, with a total of eight streetcar projects opening or about to come online, including five in cities with no previous service: Cincinnati; Detroit; Kansas City, Mo.; St. Louis; and Washington, D.C.
"What generally distinguishes streetcars from light rail is that streetcars are smaller, travel in traffic, have shorter routes and make more frequent stops," he writes. "Light rail is built to move people between neighborhoods, while streetcars typically help people get around within neighborhoods. Although the distinctions may seem small, they help explain why streetcars seem to get a lot more criticism than light rail projects, even though both have proliferated rapidly in recent years."
The most emulated streetcar system in the country is Portland’s, Vock says, and a "pilgrimage to Portland is virtually a prerequisite for any city leader serious about building a streetcar system at home. Cincinnati’s delegation has visited Portland 39 times because it’s an example of how a streetcar can both improve transportation and create a vibrant neighborhood out of an overlooked industrial area."
Read the full Governing Magazine