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Love to know who the "Wizard" is behind the curtain that keeps pushing the idea of a streetcar for DC. This is a plan that deserves to be in Oz.

What most cities have is a light rail system that will use less heavily traveled city streets but they're not designed to have those streetcars mix-in on heavily trafficked roads with automobiles and operate on regular traffic signals.

Boston, Phialdelphia, and New Orleans comes to mind when you hear the name streetcar, but rarely are those on streets with as dense traffic as the projected streets planned in Washington.

Back during the Dan Tanghelini DDOT era, this idea of streetcars was brought up and Portland, OR was the template they used to push it. Interestingly enough, it was on the Portland Streetcar contract that DDOT purchased three streetcars. I took a trip out there back in 2005 to look at Portland's system, except I didn't go during a city sponsored trip that took some residents out there. Because my wife works for an airline, I flew out on my own to take a look at the Portland system, and while it works nicely for Portland it was also needed because their light rail system that goes through downtown east to west, had no light rail line or place for a rail right of way going north and south hence the solution was the streetcar.

In addition, as a Metro employee, I spoke with operators there who are also a part of the same international union I am with, and the stories about the streetcar were alarming. Streetcars slamming on brakes and rear ending a car make for a far worse accident than if hit by a bus, and they certainly can't stop as quick as a bus. There's the traffic tie ups when a streetcar breaks down and holds the entire line, AND street travel lanes up, until its moved.

If Portland's street car wasn't FREE in the downtown area to Portland State University, its arguable how many citizens would have signed off on it for their city.

50 years ago it was debated with far fewer valid reasons then than now for taking "streetcars" off DC's streets. Now, with even more traffic, more and longer buses operating on alternative fuels, and a subway system, somebody involved with city planning---and probably not even living in the city---has decided a streetcar is the next great thing to happen.

My question for four years has been, WHY?

by Christopher on Oct 23, 2009 2:16 pm • linkreport

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