Erica Barnett points out that the FTA seems to be implementing rules that push for buses over streetcars because the “densification” element would be removed from the cost-effectiveness criteria. This would likely remove some of the funding that we used here to build our streetcar line.

Erica is incorrect that this could remove funding for light-rail or heavy rail rapid transit lines. This would be a HUGE worry for University Link that has not yet been approved for federal funding. The good news is that the “densification” factor is not necessary for that project, since the cost-benefit for that project is time of commute and number of commuters.

We have little to worry for the moment about federal funding for light rail.

4 Replies to “Buses over Streetcars”

  1. I hate to agree with the Neanderthals on this one, but it was never appropriate to fund streetcars out of transportation dollars – seeing as how they do not, in any way, shape, or form, benefit travellers over bus service on the same corridor (bus service is actually likely to be marginally faster and marginally more reliable due to being able to change lanes to get around obstructions).

    Streetcar as an economic development tool should be funded by developers (or by cities, through TIFs). But the real problem is that now they’re being pushed as a transportation solution in places like Austin, which don’t even NEED the densification support (densifying fine without the already), but DO desperately need some reserved-guideway transit.

  2. I should have clarified first paragraph as “mixed-traffic-running-streetcar”, or as I’m trying to coin the term, “streetcar vulgaris”. Streetcar vehicles running in reserved guideway are fine by me, although I’d rather have true LRT.

  3. This is the last year of the Bush administration. The crackpots and ideologues they’ve installed in every agency of the Federal government will be busy cranking out directives and rules, stealing everything that isn’t nailed down, and carting away the records to hide their crimes.

    The upside here will be the opportunity to start anew, referring to best practices in other nations.

    Or, you could do the short form and just move to a city that seems to have transit you like. The Puget Sound Region as we know it today was essentially created by suburban land developers, the roadbuilding industry, and the newspapers which depend on real estate and car advertising for their profits. You can’t turn this ship on a dime.

    What Seattle needs, in an era of global warming, is transit like the old Milwaukee Road electrics, which put power into the grid when they went downhill to power the trains going uphill. Whether an electric bus can do this I do not know.

    In any case, the idea that things will pretty much go on as before, except the buses will run on corn syrup, is pretty much what someone would say over dinner at the Space Needle. It’s a meeting of the minds- Seattle is so progressive, it’s “left behind”.

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