Downtown Trolleys Are a Good Idea. So You Know It’ll Never Work.

Clang went the trolley: We've been following the plan to put streetcars downtown closely (see our story at left) because, being hippies, we think streetcars are a really cool idea. Being the Dallas Observer and aware of what happens to good ideas at City Hall, we're also watching closely to see how City Hall screws up this one.

Grudgingly, Buzz has to say that the two Dallas City Council members who asked the best questions at Tuesday's council briefing on downtown trolleys were Ron Natinsky and Dave Neumann. Both of them wanted to know why the proposed governing body for a downtown trolley system would put the city of Dallas in a minority role, since the system will be in downtown Dallas and Dallas will be paying for it.

In particular, Neumann wanted to know why Dallas Area Rapid Transit should get almost as many seats on the board of the proposed trolley authority as the city. No shit, Sherlock. Putting DART and the suburbs in charge of a downtown Dallas trolley system paid for by Dallas taxpayers is the brainchild of transportation chair Linda Koop, who has never seen a suburb she didn't want to smooch. Must be running for Congress.

City council member Carolyn Davis asked whether the trolleys will be on tracks "or on rubber" in downtown. The answer from a consultant: "Tracks." Then Davis asked if the trolleys will be on tracks or on rubber when the trolleys leave downtown and go out into the neighborhoods. The answer: "Tracks."

We see her point. Otherwise we're going to be in a hell of a mess with all those steel-wheeled cars chewing up neighborhood streets. Bet they'd be hard to steer. No, wait. The real point of her question? She says DART should be in charge of the whole thing because "they know a lot about tracks."

True. They're really good about building them out to the suburbs.

Council member Vonciel Hill wants a trolley line out to Paul Quinn College. Good idea. We want a trolley line to the Lakewood Country Club. Buzz isn't a member, but it would be a good idea in terms of balance.

Sheffie Kadane is very excited: "From day one I have been screaming, 'We gotta have streetcars.'" Pity Mrs. Kadane.

He asked a good question about a proposal that streetcars be financed through a downtown public improvement district.

"You are referring to the PID as a way of financing. Would we maintain the same PID we have now? Would it be a new PID? How would that work?"

The consultant's answer was a bit tangled but boiled down to: Maybe same PID, maybe new. Sheffie's got the right idea: Trolleys sound cool, but show us the money. —Jim Schutze


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