Streetcar backers cite to improved commutes for transit users to support the project. But a pro-transit, self-described urbanist cautions that “many [streetcar] projects are planned to be constructed in a manner that provides an inferior quality of service than the bus lines they replace.” Yonah Freemark explains:
[A]lmost every one of the major streetcar projects proposed has refused to separate trains from automobile traffic for the majority of the routes…[t]his means that streetcars will be stuck in the same traffic as everyone else, making speed improvements impossible…These should not be considered nit-picky complaints, since the cities promoting streetcars are investing millions of public dollars in their lines — often at an expense of $50 million per mile and up. At those costs, an effective quality of service should be standard.
Sound familiar? Even if the curbside lanes were transit-only (a proposal that would send drivers ballistic), the County’s plan is a streetcar-and-bus system. That is, the streetcar will get stuck behind buses (and probably cars) it can’t pass. (Keep in mind that the trolley will replace only 2 bus lines, of the dozen+ currently that use the Pike).
A lot more thinking needs to go into the streetcar, not more reflexive defenses from half-awake board members.