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Thread: Streetcars are Overrated - Jarrett Walker

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    Default Streetcars are Overrated - Jarrett Walker

    "The U.S. is undergoing a streetcar boom. Fully 89 American cities are at least considering building surface-rail systems, according to the most recent statistics compiled by the American Public Transportation Association.....

    "But Walker — who delivered a presentation to Toronto’s planning department earlier this year — called the American streetcar fad “an emotional response to a shiny toy.”
    “The U.S. has been under the influence of a very aggressive movement claiming essentially that the streetcar vehicle —which is what you have on King St. — has some sort of intrinsic properties that cause it to generate great communities regardless of whether it has any utility as transportation whatsoever.”

    Link: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014..._critics.html#

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    My, won't this be fun.

    Streetcars can be useful along certain routes - where there's lots of shopping for instance. SFO's Market Street line is a perfect example.

    Whyte ave would be a great place for a streetcar.

    But as a way to get large numbers of people from the suburbs to DT, not-so-much. They're just plain old dumb and rapidly lose any appeal to daily commuters.

    And with that, queue the nattering nabobs ...
    Last edited by McBoo; 01-08-2014 at 04:36 PM. Reason: Thank you Meds, yes, queue!
    ... gobsmacked

  3. #3

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    cue or queue? I guess you were first in through that gate today either way...

    I do agree with what you've said. Street cars should be used in the build up areas, not as a way to move people from the suburban nodes to the employment nodes. that is what LRT should be for, as it's how its currently used in Edmonton.

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    However you can have low floor LRT serve both purposes, wide station spacing in the suburbs and more stops in Old Strathcona. The Seimens cars can travel up to 105 km/h, with enough tunnels/bridges under major intersections it can get you downtown or Old Strathcona quickly.

  5. #5

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    I know you were waiting for this so here it goes, IMH but biased O

    I agree with the statement that "the American streetcar fad “an emotional response to a shiny toy."

    Especially here in Edmonton where we had the infrastructure for a 127 km trolley system, bought and paid for and a very old fleet of junk GM trolleys.

    • We could have spent about $100M on 100 new low floor articulated hybrid trolleys for the existing network
    • about $50 million to fix the overhead to prevent dewiring and update substations
    • Spend $200M on the overpass at 83rd at Argyll and a trolley line to Millwoods
    • Spend $50M on additional trolley lines to WEM, Callingwood and Terra Losa
    • Spend $100M on a top deck on the High Level Bridge for two way trolley lines to Whyte Ave
    • Spend $25M to wire route from 118th down 97th street to Northgate (the poles existed)
    • Spend $50M on improving the routes that existed, adding some dedicated lane, advance traffic signals, real time uplinks and improved stations
    • Spend $50-$100M on additional vehicles to cover the expanded network


    Totals estimated cost, $600M which is about the same as the NAIT LRT line that is only 3 kilometers long
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    Quote Originally Posted by sundance View Post
    However you can have low floor LRT serve both purposes, wide station spacing in the suburbs and more stops in Old Strathcona. The Seimens cars can travel up to 105 km/h, with enough tunnels/bridges under major intersections it can get you downtown or Old Strathcona quickly.
    emphasis added by me.

  7. #7

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    See now, are we talking about Light Rail on dedicated ROW's or mixing with traffic and flowing at slower speeds and hitting many lights like a regular bus would. I didn't catch his exact speech, only what The Star gives you, but it's not the vehicle, but the design. Do you blame the vehicle type if there are no tunnels, ROW's or proper station placement/distances from one another... or the implementation of a good designed network/system? Toronto needs dedicated ROW's for it's dated streetcars to move people quicker and more efficiently.
    Live and love... your neighbourhood.

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    ^if you build a new line from scratch! obviously you give it ROW like COE has done with the NAIT line (which is a comparable build to SE despite it being high not low floor). Toronto already has a mixed traffic streetcar though, I don't think they should waste billions changing it, I've used it on visits to Toronto and much prefer it, being rail, to a bus. I"d happily live so where like the beaches in Toronto because of that line, I wouldn't without it.

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    ^Are you a regular transit user? Curious as to why you have this preference for steel wheels over rubber tires.

    As a regular transit user in my own hometown, my priority is to get from Point A to Point B as fast as possible. If this can be done by just as efficiently by bus (such as express buses or bus rapid transit) why spend billions on a rail based system that offers no advantage in terms of speed, frequency or capacity?

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    ^I used buses for four years (including trolleys), on a busy route where they are reasonably frequent. I dislike them, I find the movement uncomfortable, I suppose the swaying motion within and between lanes which you don't get on a straight line. I have no problems with LRT or streetcars, and per ridership stats on LRT versus buses on similar routes before LRT is in place, I'm not alone. How often do you see someone park to ride on a bus, versus steel wheels?
    Last edited by moahunter; 01-08-2014 at 07:02 PM.

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    I have actually adjusted my lifestyle to be LRT oriented, and if Edmonton didn't have an LRT I doubt I would be here right now at all.

    Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but there it is...

    Let's make Edmonton better.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    ^I used buses for four years (including trolleys), on a busy route where they are reasonably frequent. I dislike them, I find the movement uncomfortable, I suppose the swaying motion within and between lanes which you don't get on a straight line. I have no problems with LRT or streetcars, and per ridership stats on LRT versus buses on similar routes before LRT is in place, I'm not alone. How often do you see someone park to ride on a bus, versus steel wheels?
    With a bus you don't have to "park". With the limited access points to LRT and streetcars that are a single line, often you need to park and ride. Buses have more access points that you can walk to.
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

  13. #13

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    ^and unlike LRT or Streetcars, they attract way less ridership, I know my preference anyway, and I don't think I'm alone at all in it, I believe LRT, despite its cost, is well worthwhile, and that maintaining streetcars makes sense for cities that have them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Medwards View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by sundance View Post
    However you can have low floor LRT serve both purposes, wide station spacing in the suburbs and more stops in Old Strathcona. The Seimens cars can travel up to 105 km/h, with enough tunnels/bridges under major intersections it can get you downtown or Old Strathcona quickly.
    emphasis added by me.
    Like when have we seen our LRT ever go more than 70? It averages half that.
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by East McCauley View Post
    ^Are you a regular transit user? Curious as to why you have this preference for steel wheels over rubber tires.

    As a regular transit user in my own hometown, my priority is to get from Point A to Point B as fast as possible. If this can be done by just as efficiently by bus (such as express buses or bus rapid transit) why spend billions on a rail based system that offers no advantage in terms of speed, frequency or capacity?
    The only reasons rail is smoother is that they spend lots of money to prepare the rail bed, lots on regular track maintenance, the cars are heavier and the length with double boggies smooths things out.

    If you make better roads for buses(running down the center of streets is almost always smoother than the sides), maintain the roads better, and use multi axle designs like on intercity buses with air-ride suspensions, buses can be as smooth. Depends on the drivers too as we all have experienced bad bus drivers.
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

  16. #16

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    Response from Jarret Walker to Toronto Star article:

    http://www.humantransit.org/2014/08/...-opponent.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    ^and unlike LRT or Streetcars, they attract way less ridership,
    This is an over generalization. Poorly designed (i.e. slow) LRT systems like those built in Portland and many US cities attract fewer riders than well-designed bus rapid transit systems like the 99-B in Vancouver.

    There is no difference between those who take transit for their daily commute compared to those who drive. Both want to get from Point A to Point B as quickly and conveniently as possible.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by East McCauley View Post
    "The U.S. is undergoing a streetcar boom. Fully 89 American cities are at least considering building surface-rail systems, according to the most recent statistics compiled by the American Public Transportation Association.....

    "But Walker — who delivered a presentation to Toronto’s planning department earlier this year — called the American streetcar fad “an emotional response to a shiny toy.”
    “The U.S. has been under the influence of a very aggressive movement claiming essentially that the streetcar vehicle —which is what you have on King St. — has some sort of intrinsic properties that cause it to generate great communities regardless of whether it has any utility as transportation whatsoever.”

    Link: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014..._critics.html#
    This article is in response to the dc street car plan. We ate talking true street cars. No dedicated lanes, no to little signal priority. The only thing happening in canada that is street car related is torontos new lrvs
    "Do you give people who already use transit a better service, or do you build it where they don't use it in the hopes they might start to use it?" Nenshi

  19. #19
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    Toronto is also considering removing excess stops toward a goal of 300m spacing, and reducing automobile access on some streetcar streetcar routes, so it's slowly evolving away from a streetcar that's set up to fail, and towards trams providing decent service.

    Slowly.

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    Which, after the first dozen or so 4-way SNAFU's at Whyte and 83rd is when Edmonton will spend needless tens of millions more to fix the current planned disaster-in-waiting.
    ... gobsmacked

  21. #21

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    ^ omg

    get over it... a small number of you are like bad broken records.

    In now way or is any part of our new system comparable to the problems of street car system.
    "Do you give people who already use transit a better service, or do you build it where they don't use it in the hopes they might start to use it?" Nenshi

  22. #22

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    And how do you come to that conclusion?

    A tram (also known as tramcar; in North America known as streetcar, trolley or trolley car) is a rail vehicle which runs on tracks along public urban streets (called street running), and also sometimes on separate rights of way. The lines or networks operated by tramcars are called tramways. Tramways powered by electricity, which were the most common type historically, were once called electric street railways. Trams also include horsecars, which were widely used in urban areas before electrification. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tram

    Can you see a difference?

    http://www.vipress.at/uploads/tx_vip...32954_e991.jpg
    Trams in Vienna, one of the largest existing networks in the world

    4 Generations of Trams at Breitensee Depot in Vienna: Class B Ultra Low Floor Tram No. 701 Class C1 No. 141 from the 1950ies, Museum Class K No. 2447, built before WW I, Museum Class E1 No. 4533, built in the 1970ies, regular use The Remise Breitensee became unused by Oct. 2006 and was demolished until Jan. 2009. Its ground will be used for the housing project Karree Breitensee.


    BTW, Charlie Stolte, the GM of ETS referrers to the "new system" as streetcars
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    I love streetcars, and still don't understand why Edmonton got rid of them. The city had a huge line. Other cities are still building lines, while cities that have them are expanding their lines. I'd love to see a couple of routes built in Edmonton, and I think Whyte Avenue would be the perfect place for the firs one.
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    Love to see the HLB streetcar line extended down Whyte - and Jasper west of 109 street for that matter. Think it could be wildly popular.

    Can't expect the volunteer run Radial Railway Society to take that on by itself - but with assistance from Transit, should be doable.

    Note, it wouldn't be a commuter route though.
    ... gobsmacked

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by 24karat View Post
    I love streetcars, and still don't understand why Edmonton got rid of them. The city had a huge line. Other cities are still building lines, while cities that have them are expanding their lines. I'd love to see a couple of routes built in Edmonton, and I think Whyte Avenue would be the perfect place for the firs one.
    Many forces were put into place to actively remove them all over North America as well as economics became a factor.

    In sort we were sold and directed towards the suburban dream. A house, A plot of land and two cars for every door all surrounded by push button connivence.
    "Do you give people who already use transit a better service, or do you build it where they don't use it in the hopes they might start to use it?" Nenshi

  26. #26

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    I have never liked streetcars, because regular street traffic messes them up too easily. I prefer to have trains separated from cars and trucks so congestion or car accidents don't become an issue.

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