USA Today just ran a very upbeat article on streetcars, noting that today's reasons for building streetcar lines - as a cheap, clean, effective way to connect neighbourhoods - are the same as they were a century ago when streetcar lines first "helped shape neighbourhoods."
Streetcars are a cheaper cousin to light-rail, costing one fifth the price per kilometre and having the added advantage of a deep cultural romance that other modes lack.
"Streetcars have sex appeal," says Len Brandrup, director of transportation in Kenosha, Wis., which opened a 1.9-mile line in 2000. "It resonates with folks. ... Developers don't write checks for buses."
Examples abound of cities that have rebuilt streetcar systems and realized huge returns on their investment. Here are just a couple from the article.In Ybor City, Florida, a streetcar line that cost $55 million (USD) to build in 2002 has already "attracted well over $1 billion in private investment."
In Portland, Oregon, the Pearl District streetcar line "attracted about 100 projects worth $2.3 billion in less than five years, all within two blocks of the line." The article further reports, "Ridership was more than triple projections."
What I just can't for the life of me understand is why Hamilton doesn't at least see the investment potential in this kind of transit, let alone the potential for revitalizing neighbourhoods, reducing driving, improving air quality, improving mobility for residents who can't drive, connecting the city, and so on ad nauseam.
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