Clang, Clang, Crunch: The Truth About Streetcars

Why should Dallas build a tiny, inefficient streetcar line when it's broke? Because trolleys are groovy.

Clang, Clang, Crunch: The Truth About Streetcars
Current Photo By Alex Scott/Historic Photo ©Dallas Historical Society

We are about to spend $40 million to build less than two miles of modern streetcar line linking downtown Dallas to Oak Cliff. A few things to keep in mind:

•According to the experts, modern streetcars are no better at carrying people around than other transit methods, maybe a little worse.

•Streetcars never pay for themselves.

The Elm Street streetcar in the 1920s, on the right, carried patrons to and from dozens of movie and vaudeville theaters.
A second set of tracks coming back
in the other direction may still be buried beneath modern pavement shown on the left.
Current Photo By Alex Scott/Historic Photo ©Dallas Historical Society
The Elm Street streetcar in the 1920s, on the right, carried patrons to and from dozens of movie and vaudeville theaters. A second set of tracks coming back in the other direction may still be buried beneath modern pavement shown on the left.
The intersection of Elm and St. Paul streets downtown, shown here in both the 1920s and today, was laid out to accommodate the wider turning radius of streetcars.
Current Photo By Alex Scott/Historic Photo ©Dallas Historical Society
The intersection of Elm and St. Paul streets downtown, shown here in both the 1920s and today, was laid out to accommodate the wider turning radius of streetcars.

•Streetcars are less green than buses.

•Other than that, they're great.

People love them. Something about a sleek new streetcar—the soft whir of electric technology, the aura of Euro-cool—draws people powerfully. Advocates in Portland, Oregon, claim their streetcar line has spurred billions of dollars in redevelopment because people want to live near streetcars.

That's what streetcar lovers here are hoping for, but for many Dallasites, the most important question is still "What is a streetcar, exactly?"

Dallas already has an antique streetcar line operating as a tourist attraction in the Uptown entertainment district. Think of the magic trolley on the erstwhile children's TV show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, the one that transported people to the "Neighborhood of Make-Believe."

Modern streetcars are one-car electric-powered trains that run on tracks in the street. In this world there are three sizes of rail transit. The big kind is called heavy rail: trains running on separate tracks from city to city pulled or pushed by diesel engines.

In the middle is light rail, a hybrid. In Dallas the DART train is light rail: electric-powered, sort of a trolley but with multiple cars hooked together in a train, sometimes off by itself on its own tracks, sometimes running down tracks in the street.

The third version of rail is the modern streetcar, kind of like a mini-DART train but only one car at a time, running on tracks in the streets, shoulder-to-shoulder with traffic.

And that's the thing: Unlike heavy rail, which can go fast, or light rail, which can go fast sometimes, streetcars are always in the street and almost never fast. Because they're big and heavy and harder to stop than a car, they have to move extra cautiously. A double-parker, someone pushing a baby stroller while texting or a snoozing homeless person stops a streetcar dead in its streetcar tracks.

Dallas' modern mini-line, slated to begin construction in March 2012 and begin service in December 2013, will run between Reunion Station at the west end of downtown and Methodist Hospital in North Oak Cliff, a distance of 1.6 miles. The city will operate two cars at a time. Passengers will be able to get on a car every 15 minutes each way during peak hours and every half hour off-peak, for 16 hours each day. (In other words, the average healthy adult could walk the distance in less time than it will take to catch and ride the trolley.)

But streetcar lovers, a passionate tribe, say the important thing isn't getting on. It's getting off. They vow that Dallas' streetcar system will foster a warm and fuzzy Mister Rogers'-style neighborhood on the Oak Cliff end of the line, meanwhile hooking up downtown with a new supply of office workers.

Some serious transit experts agree. They think streetcars are magic beans that can sprout into new sustainable Seinfeld neighborhoods—a kind of anti-transit transit, a means of travel so slow that you might as well just stay put. And they see that as a good thing.

But if being slow and inconvenient is the upside, what's the down? In recent years streetcars have made enough of a comeback to have earned themselves a well-rehearsed choir of critics, some of whom are every bit as passionate as the advocates.

Some of the critics are curmudgeons generally offended by what they think is a silly-minded nostalgia fad. But the skeptical ranks also include academic experts who call into question basic underlying assumptions of streetcar lovers.


Lisa Schweitzer, a professor of environmental justice and sustainable transportation at the University of Southern California, dismisses streetcars as "urban decoration." She says they accomplish little toward the goal of replacing automobiles, and she accuses streetcar lovers of an elitist and cavalier attitude toward most people who need some kind of public transit to live.

"For all of us who actually have to work for a living and use public transit to get to work," she says, "the attitude is that we should go jump in the lake."

She says she could accept the role of streetcars as an amenity whose purpose is to add cachet to urban design if that were all anybody claimed for them, but she rejects the idea that short streetcar lines within cool little enclaves can contribute in any meaningful way to real change in overall transit habits.

"If you are actually arguing that this is going to keep people out of their cars, quote unquote, then the streetcar line has to go somewhere," she says. "If we want these environmental benefits, we have to come up with a service that actually does compete with the car."

People who believe in rail transit, everything from heavy rail to streetcars, tend to assume that rail is easier on the environment than internal-combustion hydro-carbon-burning rubber-tired transit, otherwise known as cars and buses. When the comparison is based strictly on what comes out of the tailpipe, obviously, electric-powered rail wins, because it doesn't have a tailpipe.

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78 comments
jetgraphics
jetgraphics

I confess that I am a recent convert to the "Way of Steel" (Ferrovia) - ahem - steel wheel on steel rail.It's the LAW (of Physics) that convinced me.....http://www.brooklynrail.net/science_of_railway_locomotion.html At the same constant speed, on level ground, drawing the same load, any steel wheeled railway vehicle already in motion, will use only 5% (1/20) of the energy consumed by any large pneumatic tire road vehicle already in motion. Upon starting and initial acceleration, any steel wheeled railway vehicle will only use 10% (1/10) of the energy demanded by any large pneumatic tire road vehicle.....Does saving 95% have a nice ring to it?That is the REASON for rail's ascendancy - not politics - not lobbyists. The day America transfers 80% of its passenger and cargo transit to electric rail, oil imports go to ZERO. Domestic production will be enough to fuel America's much smaller fleet for generations.....Whether or not you believe that the auto / petro / highway cartel killed off streetcars, the fact remains that since 1970, America is no longer Queen of Oil. And the only thing that has a chance of cutting our dependence on imported oil is the electric choo choo, in all its forms - heavy rail, commuter / interurban, light rail, streetcars / trams, funiculars, cogwheel, etc, etc.

TransitTrouble
TransitTrouble

This is the truth that no one wants to admit: we care about mass transit in neighborhoods we want to gentrify, but otherwise we don't want poor people getting around too easily, safely, or cheaply, lest they end up in neighborhoods they don't belong in. If the poor are too shiftless to own and maintain cars, they're not fit to employ anyway. So we keep mass transit underfunded, inconvenient, dirty, and sometimes downright dangerous to use. Street cars are gentrified, busses and light rail are for poor people. Lest, we wouldn't be caught dead on busses. Or so the conservative thinking here in D-Town goes. Let's just keep building more highways until we end up as ugly and dirty as Los Angeles. Lord knows we get more Angelinos here every day. Whatever they're doing in California, we should be doing the exact opposite.

binhT
binhT

Old grouch, you're asking the right questions (painful as they may be). Nowhere does anyone dare do a cost/benefit analysis of the endless EPA, FTA and ADA regulations and mandatory "studies" by "consultants". It has become politically incorrect to question the validity of any such regulation, so it's a taboo subject for transit officials as well as so-called journalists such as the author of this article. Never mind that we could probably rebuild the entire streetcar network in Oak Cliff for the for the cost of this single, short segment.In my opinion, this project should proceed but we need to have a good explanation of the costs that satisfactory to the sponsors of this project. That is, you and me.Instead of a thorough, comprehensive analysis we get reguritated, worn out oil/auto/highway lobbyist propaganda seasoned with racism to make us believe the project is utterly hopeless.Meanwhile, we continue building money-losing freeways literally driving the state into financial ruin - $27 Billion and counting with no way to pay for it - requiring more debt to our decendants, and more cuts into our education system:http://www.mysanantonio.com/de...http://blog.mysanantonio.com/t...

old grouch
old grouch

There isn't a light rail or trolley line in this country that doesn't need taxpayer subsidies to stay afloat. So tell me what urgent transportation need this line will serve, that deserves my money?

BTW, I love rail transit. I used to live on the Green Line in Boston, and used it all the time. That line is over a century old, and was paid for ages ago. New lines have lunatic regulations imposed by a gang of DOT twits in Boulder and DC that jack up the price with no measurable benefit. Amazing, how once railroads and trolley lines moved a major portion of the population around with none of the current technologies, with about the same level of accidents and fatalities a century ago(considering the far smaller number of people using them now) as we have now.

Big Al
Big Al

I ride street cars and light rail as I travel around the world. In 2010 rode on Toronto street cars that Dallas will buy as their expansion.

Street cars and light rail are great options for commuters and tourists. Schedules are easy and predictable, not like buses. Easy to hop on and off. In Toronto and other places my girl friend & I bought day passes. Jumped out whenever we saw a cafe, shop, attraction that caught our eye.

In addition McKinney Avenue Trolley is FREE.

Sure light rail is grand. Expenses are grand as well. Watching DART expand to Carrolton, Rockwall, DFW is fun, but takes forever.

Expect Trolley will be less expensive and take less time because it uses existing roads.

Your article has amusing jokes, but fact is DFW needs more public transit NOW. Trolleys are part of that mix of options.

Ken Duble
Ken Duble

binhT, one of the reasons not any old cable car will do is because on the entire length of the bridge, the cable car will have to run without cable. This is why they're looking at a Japanese hybrid cable car with backup batteries.http://www.dallasnews.com/news...

binhT
binhT

Dallasmay, now we're talking. Yes, I'm almost totally ignorant (as is the author and most of the other commenters here). But why do we need to purchase a fleet of modern streetcars at $3 million each when the Seashore has several Dallas double-ended PCCs available for $90K-$100K each and Gomaco can build streetcars from scratch for $800K or less?Assuming three cars are needed, that's a savings $6 or $7 million right off the bat.Now you've spouted off several reasons why so much money is needed. Please provide a little more details of each. Why is my money needed to protect the 100 year old bridge? How will it be spent? Where exactly are these utilities and street upgrades? Have you received competitive quotes? Please post them for us to see.Sorry if these questions make you uncomfortable, but you need to treat this (as well as other government funding) as if it came from your life savings. You should get what you really need - and no more. Every dollar will need to be justified.

txnomad
txnomad

How bout spending the money on teachers, instead?

Alex Roderer
Alex Roderer

This is just the start of what will be a system that gets you all around the city someday. The draw of streetcars is undeniable and that is what this city really needs PEOPLE LIVING IN IT. we moved here from san francisco when i was young and my mom always says how ugly dallas is how it has nothing to it and its true it was designed for efficiency and nothing else. Every time someone wants to do something cool like build a bridge or do a streetcar system every one throws a hissy fit IM SO SICK OF IT. stupid dallasites your city will always be an ugly slab of concrete unless you do some aesthetically pleasing stuff to it.

binhT
binhT

No one is asking the right question: Why was Kenosha, WI able to construct a streetcar line for less than $3 Million per mile while this project costs $20 Million per mile? Some answers are obvious, but imagine how much more service we could have at a much lower cost to the taxpayer. The same questions must also to apply to highways and other transportation projects. I've heard we can eliminate nearly half of the nation's deficit by eliminating waste while keeping existing projects intact.As taxpayers, we deserve a breakdown of the costs and allowed to recommend suggestions for cost savings.But no one is willing to negotiate lower costs on behalf of the taxpayer. The only debate seems to be "Streetcar Yes" or "Streetcar No".I believe this project should proceed, but at half the cost. How about that?

Jeff
Jeff

I miss Hop A Bus. A bus painted like a big pink bunny. Unfortunately that was way to kitchy for Dallas.

Loki Laufeyson
Loki Laufeyson

Gotta love DART. They'll scrap popular bus routes in favor of "niche" transit modes. DART has killed Route 519 which served residents on both sides of White Rock Lake, forcing folks to travel to downtown just to get from Lake Highlands to Lakewood or Mockingbird Station, and the Route 466 to White Rock Rail Station, leaving folks in the Casa Linda area with no viable bus route to the "neighborhood rail station". Now, to get to the rail station, we have to eithre drive, or take 2 buses to make a 3 mile trip. Or, we can call DART On-Call and hope that they have a seat for us sometime during the day... and pay a premium for the privilege. Oh, but we have direct service via the 467 down to Lake June Station so we can ride the NEW GREEN LINE. Woopie. But Dallas has STREET CARS, yeah buddy. DART... going nowhere, and getting there quickly.

007dws
007dws

Scrap the street cars.....Who authorizes this crap? I don't remember voting for this. How many teachers will 40 million pay for?

Jerry
Jerry

Angela Hunt hunt can't get m.dart.org on her iPhone and figure out where the bus is going? I think it has more to do with who the other riders are.

Tony
Tony

@dB "Jim, for you, uptown may be an “entertainment district”. For me, it's my home"Bravo, I couldn't agree more. Uptown is an actual neighborhood, full of Dallas residents... and that's where Dallas fails by continually trying to create tourist traps (West End), and phony destinations (Victory). Spending huge dollars on bridges, hotels, and trolleys to to hospitals don't revitalize anything. You want downtown to come back...focus on people that live in Dallas. If you get locals down there, visitors to the city will follow.

Donbooyack
Donbooyack

Cyclist typing ARregla laS Putas calles first I Say DayuMm......

Cheers

Alexander Moreno :D

db
db

Jim, for you, uptown may be an “entertainment district”. For me, it's my home and I can walk to almost everything I need - cleaners, grocery, voting, dining, museums, symphony, theater, library, shopping and of course the trolley which I do not view as a “tourist attraction” at all, but as a means to get to work, a starting and ending point for airport trips (DFW – trolley, walk, 2 trains, 2 buses; DAL – trolley, walk, train, bus), and home from restaurants / pubs when my feet don’t carry me so well. My cars go unused for weeks at a time. Why does it always need to be about the "destination" in this town and not about the "journey". And I also love the sound of the trolley in my neighborhood – it is one of those things that makes it home. And Jim; from you of all people – I’m befuddled.

Market St. Railway
Market St. Railway

The characterizations made of San Francisco's F-line by Mr. Walker are simply dead wrong, in almost all respects. As the non-profit group supporting the transit agency that runs the F-line (www.streetcar.org), we look at its operation very closely. The F-line carries more than twice the number of riders as the bus it replaced, for the simple reason that people find it more instantly identifiable than the generic bus, and smoother to ride. No one I know has ever claimed it was faster than the bus on the same route, and indeed, the running times are the same. The lane it operates in is irrelevant, the notion that "double parking" held up the buses on Market Street is laughable because there is NO parking allowed on Market and the traffic flow in each lane is the same. He is also dead wrong when he says the streetcar runs "far less frequently" than the bus did on that route. The streetcar started out with the exact same frequencies as the bus, but was soon made MORE frequent because of rider demand. The transit agency is going to make it even more frequent as soon as more streetcars finish restoration (2 of 16 additional cars are here now). He's trying to knock down streetcars with arguments that no one is making, at least not in San Francisco, where the F-line has become, in just over a decade, the most successful traditional streetcar line in America. We don't say they're "faster or more reliable than buses.' We DO say they're more successful, for the simple reason that people WANT to ride them instead of buses, taxis, and in many cases private automobiles.

Dale Harwood
Dale Harwood

So what Jim Schutze and the oil/auto/highway lobbyist funded Cascade Institute are saying is that we should all disconnect our houses from the electric grid and RUN diesel generators in our back yards. It's funny how some people - including the author - swallow this auto/oil-lobbyist finded garbage hook, line, and sinker.

Dale Harwood
Dale Harwood

Let's take this little gem: "Buses came out substantially cleaner than light rail in basic pollution, and they beat the socks off light rail in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions."--So what Jim Schutze and the oil/auto/highway lobbyist funded Cascade Institute are saying is that we should all disconnect our houses from the electric grid and off diesel generators in our back yards. It's funny how some people - including the author - swallow this auto/oil-lobbyist finded garbage hook, line, and sinker.

richard schumacher
richard schumacher

At least it's only $40 million and not $2 billion like that dumbass Trinity floodplain tollroad.

To have any chance for success streetcars must run so frequently (less than every five minutes) that users feel no need for a schedule, because they know that another one will be along within a couple minutes. 15 minute headway is death for a trolley.

By the way, very nice photo mashups!

Allan Jayne
Allan Jayne

A new streetcar (light rail) line right in the middle of the street is more of an amusement ride than mass transit.

Sometimes a portion of street running (such as in Baltimore) is unavoidable but running slowly in traffic and waiting at traffic lights is not going to attract commuters.

Incidentally, streetcars (running on rails) might never have been invented had smooth paved roads been available back in the mid 1800's. Buses (horse drawn back then) came before streetcars but the horsepower needed to of pull the loaded bus over bumpy roads together with the uncomfortable bumpy ride quality quickly led to an improved (back then) alternative, the streetcar.

Ken Duble
Ken Duble

"Buses came out substantially cleaner than light rail in basic pollution, and they beat the socks off light rail in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions."

The problem here is it assumes a dirty coal power grid. But there is no pollution whatsoever when the power comes from renewable sources. The grid continues to get cleaner over time.

"...the Cascade Policy Institute, a free-market think tank in Portland, claims that resident Portlanders never use their own city's streetcars, even though the Portland streetcars are immensely popular with visitors."

It's ironic that these "free-market" types are so supportive of the 100% government owned and funded roads that wiped out our private enterprise passenger railroads and streetcar lines. It would be interesting to check their sources of funding. You're an investigative reporter, Schutze. How about it?

"I'm not stopping every few minutes with pre-recorded announcements in two different languages telling me that, 'The doors are opening, the doors are closing.' "

In fact, you are. Not only do buses stop frequently, but they contain similar announcements. This is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Not everyone has sight, remember?

"He concedes that there are solid reasons to consider a streetcar system based on the positive effect it may have on surrounding real estate development."

Look at Uptown. The McKinney Avenue Streetcar is a very important component in this.

"In the golden age of streetcars, from 1880 to 1945, developers built their own streetcar lines to extend beyond settled city limits out into the raw land they intended to develop."

Fort Worth promised a streetcar to lure Texas Christian University from Waco.

"Dallas Assistant City Manager A.C. Gonzalez, who oversees the streetcar effort here, says there is an even more important point to be made about government money for streetcars. "Government doesn't have any money," he says."

The right has spent the past three decades underfunding government to create massive deficits, so they could then argue against public services by claiming the government is broke. In fact, the government can afford anything the deems worth funding, and is willing to pay taxes to support.

Texas Twister
Texas Twister

Once again, a well-researched and in-depth article by Jim Schutze. Lots to ponder... I love trains, but I know buses are more efficient and should be a huge part of transportation expansion. The Derelict is right: more passenger rail is simply white appeasement. We've already got a pretty good street system in place, so putting more bus routes throughout Dallas, that connect with the systems in Fort Worth, and Denton, is just smart and cost-efficient. And, if counties like Ellis, Kaufman, and Collin (they bought into DART in Plano) begin a bus system, too, then the whole region would be interconnected based on the reason why the region grew in the first place: roads.

The Derelict
The Derelict

the streetcar is really only for white people to feel urban and not have to sit next to blacks or mexicans on the fugly foul odor producing yellow bus. no mexican or black especially is going to ride that thing. But hey, they look real neat, like an "urban decoration" says Ms. Schweitzer so go for it, you're going to do it anyway.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I am pretty much Pro-Streetcar, similar to what you see in Portland and Toronto. But, to just run a small "feeder line" between Reunion and Methodist sounds like a waste of money. If we're going to actually kick off a line, you need it to roll from a place people WANT to go, like Bishop Arts or FW Ave, places where it can boost both residential and commercial business.

Tony
Tony

Another fuck up for Dallas...this streetcar is going from Reunion to Methodist Hospital??!!! If you start a streetcar, for goodness sake, start it where people will actually use it!! If you don't, you have to ask if it's really worth it. Unless you have the money to take it to Bishop Arts, you know, a part of town that's actually a destination, why start it at all? Hell, wouldn't it be smarter to try to continue the Uptown Trolley down Mckinney to Knox, or continue it through downtown? I mean there's rarely much traffic on the viaduct between downtown and Methodist. Why would people ride a trolley there? Just stupid!!!! I predict this thing will be dead almost all the time.

Transit Jeff
Transit Jeff

There isn't a city bus line in this country that doesn't need taxpayer subsidies either, Old Grouch. It's a fallacy to think that any public transit system will pay for itself. Public transit provides a service to the public, just like police and fire departments, streets departments, schools, etc. They don't pay for themselves either. And they require huge public subsidies. I hear no hue and cry that those services must pay for themselves !! So why must public transit be singled out to pay for itself?

AggieBradley
AggieBradley

I actually agree! DART light rail is great for collecting people from the suburbs and bringing them into Dallas, but what are they to do once they are there? the Street cars are a great intermodal option for the transit system bridging the gap between light rail and walkability! you can hope on for a few blocks and then hop off when you need to! its easier than having to worry about where to park your car and cheaper too. When I road the TRE last month for the first time It was annoying having to have a car in the first place but, the way Our Dallas Society is so anti-mass transit it was almost a hassle using it. but once I was on it it was a smooth trip to fort worth! I actually talked and ate with my sister while we rode to fort worth instead of worrying about dying on the Tom Landry freeway! lol

binhT
binhT

Dallasmay, We can't tell the difference between a cable car and a streetcar. HELP!..Anyway, battery-powered streetcars have been around for about 100 years. This is nothing "new" or "innovative":http://www.american-rails.com/...Thousands of streetcars and electric locomotives have been built over the years with the capability to operate on batteries for short distances where overhead wires or catenary do not exist.I'm still not convinced these streetcars need to cost $3M per set - still waiting for details of such a justification.

binhT
binhT

Good. Cut highway funding and divert funds into schools. Wait - we're already doing that. How's it working?

Craig
Craig

yea becuase street cars and bridges are cool

that will solve EVERYTHING just like it did in Detroit.

dallasmay
dallasmay

That $20M is not spread evenly over the entire line. This line has some very particular problems associated with it. The biggest problem is that a very large length of the route is traveling over a 100+ year old bridge -that is listed on the national list of protected historic structures- and is crossing a river that serves a very large wetland area. That's two MAJOR protections that have to be taken into account right there. PLUS, many of the streets that are along the alignment are 50+ years old themselves as well. You can't just glue tracks on 50+ year old asphalt. Not if you want any kind of reasonable life span for the route. They will also need to be replaced and restored in the process. Further, the utilities are also 50+ years old. They also need to be replaced. Further, we have learned a lot about traffic in the last 50 years, so all of the roads will need to be upgraded and that might require new retaining structures and possibly even ROW acquisition.

If this was as simple as cutting into recently laid asphalt and placing track into straight road, then yeah, we could do it for $1m per mile. But you really shouldn't pop-off your head about things that you obviously know absolutely nothing whatsoever about.

binhT
binhT

It was a great idea unique to Dallas and you knew it was free when you saw it. To me the fake trolleys in Arlington and Fort Worth are the most nausiatingly cliche.

binhT
binhT

I don't remember gettting to vote for the $450,000,000.00 to widen a few miles of I-35E. Were you complaining about that?

beachbird5
beachbird5

I miss the days when I was little and downtown had a life. It wasn't all businesses, but had the west end where you could go to a cool mall, see street performers, local artists, etc.

Donbooyack
Donbooyack

hellllllllllllllll FIX ALL THEM BUNK ASS STREETS Withat $$ & MOre pedi cabs.

007dws
007dws

Why should taxpayes pay for your nostalgia? I'm sure the Pony Express used to gallop up behind the horse drawn ice carts to......

Corsairii
Corsairii

If you knew anything at all about Jim Shutze, you would not accuse him of being in cahoots with any lobbyist - especially an oil/auto/highway type lobbyist.

BTS
BTS

Also which most people don't know is that Light Rail trains are coasting most of the time.Kinetic energy plays a big part in their efficiency beside minimum rolling resistance. To carry what a three car train carries you would have to have at a minimum of 10 buses.

cp
cp

You idiot, there was no such thing as horse-drawn "buses", they were called coaches back then and they always made ruts and got stuck in the ruts. A quick study in very rudimentary physics led us to discover that if somehow we could affix the wheel to something to which would help guide it through the ruts and mud, something similar to what those "iron horses" were doing produced the first horse-drawn carriages affixed to rail. Those were the first streetcars. It had nothing whatsoever to do with "bumpy rides".

Charles Diaz
Charles Diaz

"The right has spent the past three decades underfunding government..." Really Ken? Really? The government is spending more money than it ever has in history. The problem is Ken, that no matter how high taxes are and how high deficits are, the left will always cry that government programs are underfunded. So Ken, why don't you tell us all what the proper funding levels are? Give us a number Ken. And when your number is reached and the program doesn't work, will you then cry again the problem is underfunding? That IS the pat answer to for the reason behind all the failed leftist programs meant to solve all problems for all people isn't it?

Free market types "supportive of 100% government owned and funded roads...." How about the fact that the U. S. Constitution, Article 1 Section 8 actually provides for the creation of post offices and post roads?

To be honest, Ken, I am a free market type. Would that all roads were privately owned, maintained, and operated. The same for railroads and cute little streetcars.

The fact is, unless it is government run, the left isn't interested in roads, rail, or anything else free enterprise up to and including profits. Let a private developer try and build and run that little 2 mile section of track for the streetcar and there would be lawsuits from all kinds of left leaning groups trying to stop it. From groups screaming about environmental impact to groups whining aabout how the developer should allow the poor to ride free, they would all be there trying to stop it.

Fact of the matter is, such a streetcar project would never be attempted by a private developer because there is no profit to be made in such a self indulgent project. That is precisely why the project should never be built. It will always be in the red, and whoever oversees the little streetcar that shouldn't, will forever be screaming how the line is underfunded.

Masane Deviant Artist
Masane Deviant Artist

Actually I have seen many blacks and mexicans ride the trolley. Not sure where you get your info. I think it is very rude to just assume only whites ride this type of transportation.

Lynnpruss
Lynnpruss

You are an ignorant piece of $#!+...dirt, sorry. Urban garbage. We have one in our city and everyone loves to ride it. Everyone!!!

Dale Harwood
Dale Harwood

Tell me then. Tell me why he's not a lying son-of-a-bitch. I'm all ears.

Ken Duble
Ken Duble

To answer your first question, Charles, I advocate going back to the budget surpluses we had under Clinton. The problem wasn't just caused by the increased spending during the Bush years, although Bush did increase spending dramatically for homeland security, Medicare Part D, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other initiatives he failed to fund. The problem resulted because Bush didn't increase taxes as much as he increased spending, and in fact decreased them. The two economic recessions that occurred during his tenure certainly didn't help matters.

"...a streetcar project would never be attempted by a private developer because there is no profit to be made in such a self indulgent project. That is precisely why the project should never be built."

Only one problem here: The successful McKinney Avenue Transit Authority isn't a government program. It describes itself on its Facebook page as "a private non-profit organization run by a dedicated staff of volunteers."

Charles Diaz
Charles Diaz

I am glad you called him rude rather than racist. The reason being the possibility that he is black. Everyone knows that calling a black person racist is the height of racism. Only white folks can be racists. For blacks, and Mexicans like myself, racism is a genetic impossibility. *sarcasm*

Ken Duble
Ken Duble

He's a good reporter, Dale. I agree with you, though, that there's a great deal of potential and a track record of success for streetcars that he fails to appreciate fully.

 
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