Streetcars are Cool

Yes they are and fortunately, there is a rebirth of the technology which once was everywhere, even in Sacramento, but they went out of style with the development of cars and freeways, as this story in Governing—which includes a nice photo gallery—notes.

An excerpt.

This year, the city of Tucson, Ariz., will begin running streetcars every 10 minutes between the University of Arizona and downtown. It’s the city’s first modern rail transit system and is already creating a buzz of economic development in what’s considered a typical American sprawl city of 524,000 people.

Streetcars, once America’s most popular form of urban transit at the start of the 20th century, practically disappeared but have returned to urban centers with a vengeance. Today, there are seven fully fledged streetcar systems in the country, according to the American Public Transportation Association, with numerous heritage trolley lines scattered about the country. Heritage lines are either new streetcars that are built to look old or old streetcars that have been refurbished. The list of cities with streetcar lines under construction is growing longer. Besides Tucson, there’s Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Fort Lauderdale,Fla.; Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.; with at least another 30 cities that have streetcar projects in various planning stages.

Streetcars differ from light rail in several ways: They operate in city traffic, rather than on their own right of way; they typically operate a single car and run at local speed limits; they make frequent stops and travel for short distances — often just 1 to 3 miles; and they’re less expensive to build than light rail systems, costing as little as $25 million per mile, in some cases.

Retrieved January 17, 2014 from

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
This entry was posted in History, Transportation. Bookmark the permalink.