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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 3, 2011 9:04 AM. The previous post in this blog was Portland mayoral race is on; WW endorses Saltzman. The next post in this blog is All moved out. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

We're bad, we're nationwide

The streetcar mania that is sucking the life out of Portland is now being exported to the nation's capital:

That DDOT is forging ahead is a good sign for streetcar proponents, some of whom fear Mayor Vincent Gray may target the ambitious, long-term capital program for cuts. Gray's transportation transition committee slammed DDOT under the former administration for having "no recognition of funding constraints," for undertaking large projects, including streetcars, "without credible funding sources," and for moving forward without adequate planning.
And who's presiding?
The streetcar program management team, named in September, is led by Portland, Ore.-based Shiels Obletz Johnsen, HDR Engineering Inc. and ZGF Architects LP.
They're gonna love us.

Comments (20)

Just because you think something doesn't work in PDX doesn't mean it doesn't work everywhere. Streetcars would work very well in DC.

DC has the second highest percentage of commuters using transit (37% in the city alone, and that does not count VA and MD residents).

DC Metro is already over capacity at peak hours.

DC has areas with very heavy foot and car traffic where a streetcar coud work well (the K street corridor, Constitution Ave, Pennsylvania Ave, 15th St north, Connecticut Ave).

There are gobs and gobs of tourists, especially in the summer, who'd take streetcars between the tourist destinations.

They'll get there faster by walking. And they'll have to -- the streetcar won't run often enough or go where they want to go. When it isn't broken down or in an accident.

D.C. Metro is a subway, which makes sense.

But keep shilling.

Paul, the point about streetcars is that they are very expensive and disruptive to build (have you tried to use MLK or Grand in the last two years?), and achieve absolutely nothing that a bus can't do.

Whatever street a streetcar runs down, an electric or biodiesel bus can run down, stopping in the exact same places. Streetcars are for PR, period.

They sell apartments.

And fatten the bank accounts of the apartment builders and developers.

This is because we didn't laugh hard enough at "Portlandia", right?

Whatever we did, we're sorry. Really, really sorry.

paul g. -- you'll be able to visit John Hinckley with the Anacostia streetcar -- not much else. The main bottlenecks in DC are the river crossings. Unless these new streetcars can swim they won't do anything to move people that can't be done with buses for a small fraction of the cost.

Do streetcar plans in DC include a tax abatement for housing?

"Just because you think something doesn't work in PDX doesn't mean it doesn't work everywhere. Streetcars would work very well in DC."

1. Will it be free like ours?
2. How many family wage jobs will be created? As many as SoWhat?
3. How many buses will be eliminated to make this scam work?
4. Ours can be quite full at times (see number 1 above), with their population, will they have larger trolleys?
5. How many trolley-only bridges will be in the plan?

6. Got to be bow tie is pulling strings here

In my opinion, one good thing about this is that hopefully it will keep Streetcar Charlie Hales busy so we won't have to deal with him ever again in public office.

Think again, Batman.

Paul G. has a point. DC's Metro makes MAX look like the joke that it is.
Also, unlike Portland, DC has HUGE blocks.

It's possible DC might be able to do something intelligent with streetcars and get some honest use out of them, unlike Portland.

On the other hand, I still advocate that overhead lines are better utilized on e-buses, not little e-trains which are trapped on their immovable rails.

They should have fun with this law:

http://books.google.com/books?id=lrPplIV1LZEC&dq=1893+district+of+columbia+laws&pg=RA2-PA90&ots=fhxsuA-tpm&sig=3VxuHKIYZxXejcgv8ycqL7Q7vO8&prev=http://www.google.com/search%3Fhl%3Den%26q%3D1893%2Bdistrict%2Bof%2Bcolumbia%2Blaws%26btnG%3DSearch&sa=X&oi=print&ct=result&cd=1#v=onepage&q&f=false

Unless that gets repealed, they have the option of towing the streetcar with a horse, or putting the power underground - no overhead electrical caternary is allowed west of the Anacostia River (all of downtown, capitol mall, National Airport, etc.).

Somehow I don't see the House of Representatives doing that.

DC has the second highest percentage of commuters using transit (37% in the city alone, and that does not count VA and MD residents).

When you do count VA and MD residents in the same region, the figure drops to about 10%.

It's hard to imagine why anyone would consider using a streetcar in DC, when 1) Metro stops are spaced closely enough that many locations can be reached within a short walk of the station, and 2) the buses already serve locations that are not near Metro stations.

That leaves streetcars to serve...well, as street furniture. But maybe that was the original goal.

And speaking of streetcars, here's the latest ridership update from our friends in Seattle:

Sound Transit's commuter-rail, light-rail and bus services all missed their ridership goals last year, a problem agency officials blame mainly on the poor economy.

However, the goals were set in 2009, after the economic downturn was under way.

The low ridership raises the question of when the taxpayers' multibillion-dollar investment in Sounder and Link rail might be rewarded by heavy ridership — something political boosters have promised since the mid-1990s.

The $2.6 billion Link light-rail line carried an average 77 people per train last year, compared with a goal of 88 people. Average weekday boardings were 21,611 in the fourth quarter, less than a prediction of 26,600 the agency published near the 2009 grand opening. Last fall, night and weekend trips were reduced from two rail cars to one because that's all the line needed.

Rich -

Remember to use the Seattle taxpayers' refrain when discussing the looney toons trolleys - its much better than portland's.

GO BY SLUT!

The amusing thing about DC (if you aren't a taxpayer) is that they bought the streetcars in 2005, then discovered the law against overhead wires, and so kept the cars in storage for years. The city failed to do any preliminary engineering, so it had no idea how much the streetcar lines would cost when it first bought the cars from the same Czech plant where Portland got most of its cars.

The initial DC line will be east of the Anacostia, where overhead wires are legal, and they bought a third car that doesn't need wires. Alexandria VA also wants to build a streetcar line, while Montgomery County wants a light-rail line. Meanwhile, DC's MetroRail system now feels a lot like New York subways in the 1980s -- in other words, you feel like you are taking your life in your hands when you pass through a turnstile.

DC uses tax-increment financing at least as much as Portland. So, while the streetcars won't sell apartments, they will provide an excuse to give tax-increment financed subsidies to apartment builders, just like in Portland.

It's funny that the rest of the world has figured it out:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/07/business/global/07green.html?src=busln


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