Tacoma Urbanist

Jun. 20, 2012 at 12:01am

Why People Prefer Streetcars Over Buses in Tacoma

In this video, James Howard Kunstler explains why Tacomans see so many empty or near empty buses driving around the city.

Despite the best intentions of planners as to why people should be riding buses, most people don't simply want to ride them.  They are extolled as good and "green" but when it come to actually riding one....well...they are generally avoided if at all possible.

Would Tacoma's limited tax funds available be more wisely spent to restore Tacoma Streetcars than on more buses?

Especially since Tacomans are already being taxed by Sound Transit to provide: "$80 million in capital matching funds to expand Tacoma Link light rail out of downtown." This was an earlier proposal that Tacomans are already being taxed for.

Where is the Tacoma's Streetcar / LINK expansion?

Perhaps Tacoma should complete the long discussed streetcar/LINK expansion first before deciding to expand the bus system (when is Tacoma LINk going to be expanded if ever?).  There are only so many taxes to collect.

For further reading on benefits and riding preference of Streetcars and Trains over buses read a post by DC based Rob Pitingolo who flushes out many of the factors.


People behave this way because riding a bus is simply a worse experience than riding a train, with almost no exceptions. What makes riding buses so much worse? Here are five reasons to get us started...


People like to feel like they're going somewhere; they don't like to stop and wait. The beauty of a grade-separated rail transit line is that it only stops at destinations. You step onto the train and it doesn't stop for red lights, stop signs, jaywalkers or anything else. Buses stop for all those things. People hate that.


In most cities, congestion is the result of too many cars on a street all at once. Since buses use the same streets as cars, they typically get stuck in the exact same congestion. Nobody likes being stuck in a traffic jam. You could say that being on a bus in traffic is less stress-inducing than being behind the wheel; but that's not the point. A good rail transit system avoids traffic altogether.


Bus routes are often disorienting. They have too many turns and zig-zags. People can never be entirely sure where they are going. I've also yet to see a truly good bus map. The beauty of a well-designed rail map is that it simplifies something that's actually rather complex. A good map can convince people that they are traveling in a straight line, even when they are turning and zig-zagging all over the place. And since the locations of rail stations never change, you don't have to worry about being detoured away from or losing track of your destination.


Buses are bumpy. Anyone who has ever ridden a bus on a really pothole-infested street knows how awful this can be. Trains, by comparison, are typically very smooth.


People find comfort in rail stations. They feel exposed waiting out on a street corner for a bus and they don't like it. Regardless of how much safer waiting in a rail station actually is, people perceive it to be more so, and thus feel much more comfortable down (or up) in stations than they do out on the street.

comments [61]  |  posted under tacoma


by tacoma_1 on 6/20/2012 @ 5:18am
This is a false either or type of argument. Even if in this economic climate, Tacoma citizens decided to fund a street car network, it would take a decades to build it out. There is need now for adequate bus service. Buses that don't run after 6PM, that don't operate midday, that don't run at all on weekends is the .03 fixable problem at hand.

Yes we need to expand T-link. Yes we need to fund Pierce Transit. Personally I would vote for both transit modes to be available in Tacoma if I had the chance. But as a transit rider, if my choice to get to work this week is one of taking an existing bus, or of waiting years to ride the streetcar, I'll gladly get on the bus.

by fredo on 6/20/2012 @ 5:55am
  "Buses that don't run after 6PM, that don't operate midday, that don't run at all on weekends is the .03 fixable problem at hand. " tacoma_1

That simply isn't true.  

The Pierce Transit proposal to increase the tax rate does not guarantee that buses will run after 6PM, that buses will operate midday, that buses will run on weekends, or that any other level of service will be provided. All the proposal guarantees is that the tax rate will be increased. How the extra funds (if any) are used is entirely up to the folks who administer Pierce Transit.  

by fredo on 6/20/2012 @ 6:24am
Folks who want local rail SOONER rather than LATER might consider helping me build grassroots support for the Tacoma Volunteer-built Rail line. (TVR)

The TVR would be built in large part by volunteers. There would be a professional design/engineering team and a few skilled supervisors but the actual labor would be volunteer.

This would provide Tacoma with rail sooner than people would expect at a cost much lower than people would expect. Besides that it would be a wonderful team building and community building experience.Imagine if you will being part of a platoon of 40 or 50 people who assemble twice a month for 4 hour shifts UNPAID). All you get is the satisfaction of being part of the effort. This would require about 1000 people with some level of dedication to form 20 platoons.I say let's give it a try.

Waiting for the federal government or ST to provide the countless hundreds of millions or billions is going to result in a very long wait indeed.

by tacoma_1 on 6/20/2012 @ 7:01am
When I read Eric's post, this is what I got from it: blah blah blah red herring. Blah blah blah bullshit. Blah blah blah unicorns.

When I read fredo's post, this is what I got from it: well actually, I didn't read fredo's posts, why bother.

by fredo on 6/20/2012 @ 7:05am
When I read tacoma_1 posts this is what I got.

Half truths and a bunch of made up stuff.

Here's my favorite tacoma_1 "made up" story.

This was fabricated for the readers at Exit133

"The owners of the Downtown IGA store would not put in their grocery store unless an additional transit stop was installed on the link-rail near the proposed location."

by cisserosmiley on 6/20/2012 @ 7:14am
Only the last reason, perception, is valid in Tacoma. The perception is: it is so bad off here that if you shared a bus with someone who HAD to ride the bus you would be with dangerous low lives who smell like pee and THEY DON'T WANT YOU. this is an element most academics aren't looking at. It is social-psychology, and it dictates that the "social-network" on the bus exudes negative pressure on hipsters riding the bus to their lawyer jobs. BUS RIDERS DON'T WANT NEW RICH EMPLOYED BUS RIDERS TO TAKE THEIR SOCIAL ARENA.

by tacoma_1 on 6/20/2012 @ 7:22am
There are plenty of people on TLINK that currently smell like pee. FYI, I always stand when I ride it.

Btw, funding streetcars to cover the entire city of Tacoma (except all of the hilly parts where street cars can't go) would cost a whole lot more than .03.

Yes I want to expand T Link. But to object to funding our bus service because of the cost, and then to offer up a streetcar network (w/out any mention of cost) is disingenuous and silly.

by The Jinxmedic on 6/20/2012 @ 7:25am
Fredo's idea of volunteer light rail construction has real merit, and serves as an example of how you can build community in the age of the coming "new economy".

Seriously, there will come a time when this is how things will be done- if you want it, make it happen. Don't wait for a handout that will never come.

by JesseHillFan on 6/20/2012 @ 7:29am
Electric trams do have a lot of advantages.One is that electric motors are far more efficient than Internal combustion engines usually on the order of between 75 to 90 per cent as compared to around 18 to 20 per cent.I was shocked to learn that the Honda Fit's electric motor had an efficiency of 97%.

An interesting fact is that less than 1% of the energy in a tank of gasoline in a car actually moves the driver.
90% is lost between tank and the wheels (final combined Internal combustion engine,drive train,wheel,tire inefficiency) and the rest is used to push the mass of the vehicle (car).Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute calculates the average efficiency of a passenger ICE vehicle as 0.3%  

Another aspect is that in this region TPU electric power sources come mostly from non fossil fuel power production plants so very little greenhouse gas emissions are expelled by using electric power here locally.www.mytpu.org/tacomapower/power-system/p... 

A public bus transit system here is likely far more polluting by magnitudes over a hypothetical future public streetcar system to replace it.I do remember the story about the 1900 streetcar disaster here in Tacoma though.But I'm sure modern safety measures could prevent a future occurrence such as happened in the past.


I know someone who remembers riding on the Tacoma Streetcars.It's my mom and she is in her mid 80's of age.

by cisserosmiley on 6/20/2012 @ 7:47am
I didn't say link doesn't have pee smell too, I said academics concentrate on why NEW riders won't hop on when the real question is HOW to get the established ridership to attract more riders.
It's a RIDERS bus, ask riders to bring their friends, don't ask riders and non-riders to become a new social group...it does not work.

by fredo on 6/20/2012 @ 7:54am
There's no doubt that for many trips involving 1 person the bus or other transit alternatives is lowest cost provider of transportation.

However, as the group travelling together expands to larger numbers the transit advantage is reversed. When 2 or more people are travelling together it may be less expensive to use a private car. This is why transit is primarily a transport for single people which is group that includes many many homeless and mentally ill, and addicted people. 

by cisserosmiley on 6/20/2012 @ 8:36am
I agree with Fredo, now to convince the the city council to include bus money in the mental health tax where it belongs.

by JesseHillFan on 6/20/2012 @ 8:51am
Unfortunately fredo current passenger cars are unsustainable (both energy wise and environmentally)  for this planet for transportation on a worldwide basis.Not only are fossil fuels and increasing resource consumption quickly tipping the earth's environment towards the non reversible extinction of mankind and other species according to the consensus of scientists,but the very resources (fuel) themselves used to power them are dwindling.

Heavy mass personal transportation vehicles are a dead end as in no future for them for mass needs.We are already post peak oil and gasoline will become scarcer and costlier over time likely mostly disappearing within several decades from now.
Alternative fuels such as Corn based E85 could only supply one fourth of current consumption just in the United States while stealing from food needs.As for electric cars they are mostly a costly novelty and use so much power that our electrical power production plants,electric grids,substations would have to be vastly increased impractically to handle such a substitution for current ICE vehicles.

Therefore other transportation methods that reach the goals of sustainability for the future will have to be utilized instead otherwise there is no future.Public Transit Buses although on average are twice as efficient as automobiles,they are not able to be satisfactory for true sustainability.Electric Trams and Streetcars might though just as bicycles and velomobiles (whether electric or not) already are sustainable for human transportation.

Indeed having more occupancy helps (even for a car) but again even with 4 or 5 passengers it's not sustainable because of the ICE cars inefficiency,soon eventual available fuel depletion and earth human environment destroying emissions.

by cisserosmiley on 6/20/2012 @ 8:57am
Petroleum will be readily available for hundreds of years...I doubt BMW hipsters will want to lose their prestige-mobiles or remake public trans over a dilemma hundreds of years away.

by JesseHillFan on 6/20/2012 @ 9:13am
Not according to this article which is referenced.And look at the chart.That's also according to year 2004 rates.It's predicted that this will accelerate due to more consumption.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_depletion 

You could however possibly replace this with Coal powered versions of steam cars like this one.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doble_steam_car 

But I doubt the EPA would allow this.Then you would transform the Planet quickly into this planet.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Venu... 

by cisserosmiley on 6/20/2012 @ 9:20am
I have read all these wiki links before I commented, then I read the counter-literature. A middle of the road, guy on a couch with an iPhone estimate that discounts both the "empty in 2031" & the "extraction technology will make petroleum endless" extremes, is hundreds of years.

by JesseHillFan on 6/20/2012 @ 9:49am
We eventually might see what transpires (well I might not be alive by 2031 though) but if so I'll at least be able to ride my electric bike and get around.If right I'll be riding in luxury (bikes might get very expensive and scarce (high demand) by then) while the majority of people are painfully getting to their desired destination by walking.If wrong I'll still at least get around by riding.

by Erik on 6/20/2012 @ 11:25am
Here are 8 years of studies and committee work  from the City of Tacoma on streetcars....yet, still not a foot of track built:_______________Final report

Tacoma Link Expansion presentation, March 29, 2011 (1 MB PDF)
Tacoma Link Expansion Final Report, March 29, 2011
If you would like to submit comments regarding Streetcars in Tacoma, e-mail AOHanlon@cityoftacoma.org.


Sept 20, 2010 materials
- Tacoma Link Extension Feasability Study from March 2004 (PDF)
- Tacoma Link Stakeholder Group (PDF)
- Tacoma Streetcar Feasability Analysis - May Final (PDF)
- Tacoma Link Stakeholder Group expansion background info, with notes (PDF)
- Stakeholders meeting #3 2007 work (PDF)
- Regional Transit Long-range Plan Map (adopted by Sound Transit on July 7, 2005)
- Issue Paper S. 6: Potential Tacoma Link Extension - East (prepared for Sound Transit by Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, Inc. in March 2005)
- Issue Paper S. 3: HCT System Development Issues in the South Corridor (prepared for Sound Transit in March 2005)
- Issue Paper S. 1: Tacoma Link Integration with Central Link (prepared for Sound Transit by Parsons Brickerhoff Quade & Douglas, Inc. in March 2005)
- Issue Paper S. 4: Potential Tacoma Link Extension - West (prepared for Sound Transit by Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, Inc. in March 2005)
Streetcars Objective Activity for Aug. 23 meeting (PDF format)
July 26, 2010 - Opening PowerPoint (PDF format), Bus Tour area maps (PDF format)
Background materials

High-resolution maps (14 MB PDF)
City Council briefing handout (PDF)


by tacoma_1 on 6/20/2012 @ 2:31pm
A no vote for PT is not in any way, a yes vote for street cars. In fact it is a no vote for transit and a message to our local politicians that transit is not a priority.

If we want street cars (and I do) a yes vote for buses has to be a priority.

by Maria on 6/20/2012 @ 3:40pm
I'd love to see streetcars.

Having traveled in Australia and Europe...I agree trains & rail are much easier to convince people to ride.

That said, additional light rail and streetcars seem like a ways off, maybe part of a ten-year plan, and contingent on the economy restarting.

In the meantime, I plan on voting for the Pierce Transit increase because I feel it's important for people from every demographic to get to work, school, cultural events and services.

I hope the county and city continue to make progress on long-term plans for clean, safe, accessible public transit. More bike paths, walking paths, light rail and streetcars, please!

by fredo on 6/20/2012 @ 5:15pm
 ' In fact it is a no vote for transit and a message to our local politicians that transit is not a priority' tacoma_1

 tacoma_1 what you stated isn't a fact. It's a conclusion.

by tacoma_1 on 6/20/2012 @ 5:48pm
And a pretty good conclusion at that, IMHO.

I didn't write: it's a fact, I wrote: in fact.

It is an adverbial stance. Used to emphasise an opinion. It is not inferring a fact. The grammar lesson today is brought to fredo at no charge.

by fredo on 6/20/2012 @ 6:33pm
  That's a good one, tacoma_1.  

When I state my opinions in the future I'm going to include the expression" in fact" so that people will know I am not stating a fact but merely using an adverbial stance to emphasize my opinion.

by fredo on 6/20/2012 @ 6:38pm

In fact when the voters vote down the sales tax increase it will signal to our leaders that we don't want to waste any further money on buses but would prefer to save up for streetcars. 

by tacoma_1 on 6/20/2012 @ 6:57pm
FYI: in fact I have some facts to share: from an article in:


U.S. PIRG Report: Young Americans Dump Cars for Bikes, Buses

Driving is down: “From 2001 to 2009, the annual number of vehicle miles traveled by young people (16 to 34-year-olds) decreased from 10,300 miles to 7,900 miles per capita—a drop of 23 percent.”...Policy-makers and the public need to be aware that America’s current transportation policy—dominated by road building—is fundamentally out-of-step with the transportation patterns...

by fredo on 6/20/2012 @ 7:10pm
Well of course driving is going to decrease for young people.

The young people of 2009 don't have the jobs and can't afford the cars that their 2001 counterparts did. Lot's of them are living with their parents and catching rides with them. This doesn't mean they wouldn't PREFER to drive. Policy makers shouldn't pay too much attention to this flawed survey 

by tacoma_1 on 6/20/2012 @ 7:19pm
You didnt read it fredo. The reason wasn't lack of jobs.

"Young people even reported consciously driving less to save the environment. “Sixteen percent of 18- to 34-year-olds polled said they strongly agreed with the statement, ‘I want to protect the environment, so I drive less."...The trend toward non-automobile transportation options was even more pronounced among higher-income Americans, notable because this group is less likely to be motivated by economic concerns. “From 2001 to 2009, young people (16- to 34-year-olds) who lived in households with annual incomes of over $70,000 increased their use of public transit by 100 percent, biking by 122 percent, and walking by 37 percent.”

by fredo on 6/20/2012 @ 7:39pm
I just reread your link and it says that jobs WERE a contributing factor.

Here, I even copy/pasted the paragraph:

 A number of factors are thought to be contributing to the trend. Some states
now require “graduated” driver’s licensing, making young people pass multiple
driving tests and hold learner’s permits longer before they earn full
privileges. Higher gas prices, obviously, help put owning a car out of reach for
many younger Americans, especially as the age group struggles in a
less-favorable job market. Finally, technology, specifically smartphones, and
their incompatibility with (safe) driving, help make alternatives that much more

by tacoma_1 on 6/20/2012 @ 8:56pm
"The trend toward non-automobile transportation options was even more pronounced among higher-income Americans, notable because this group is less likely to be motivated by economic concerns"

by fredo on 6/20/2012 @ 9:42pm

I thought you said that the lack of jobs had nothing to do with the decline in the use of the auto by young people. But the survey said the lack of jobs was a factor.Was it a factor or wasn't it a factor?

by L.S.Erhardt on 6/20/2012 @ 10:40pm
Many young people see their parents suffering from morbid obesity and diabetes. Some of these young people are scared to death of said health issues, so they choose to walk/bike whenever possible.

Just an observation based on my own experience...

by tacoma_1 on 6/20/2012 @ 10:40pm
Excellent observation TOT

The main finding from this study is that young people are using buses and bicycles substantially more than previous generations.  That is indisputable.  What we can learn from that is that if Tacoma wants to attract and or retain their young people, good transit service should be part of the tool box to do so. 

by cisserosmiley on 6/21/2012 @ 1:21am
Older people have more money, let's attract and retain older people.

by tacoma_1 on 6/21/2012 @ 6:30am
Federal Way attracted seniors to the Senior City Apartments with frequent bus service.

"The project was designed to minimize the dominance of cars and encourage public transportation (inherent in the proximity to the Federal Way Transit Center next door"


by fredo on 6/21/2012 @ 7:33am
A saw a survey that said that young people are attracted to amusement parks.  That is indisputable.

What we can learn from that is that if Tacoma wants to attract and retain young people amuement parks should be a part of the tool box to do so. We could sell off our transit system and use the proceeds to make a down payment on an amusement park. And we should make sure that every ride is reinforced with kryptonite brand rebar because the riders tend to be morbidly obese.  

by cisserosmiley on 6/21/2012 @ 7:42am
Go here and learn what rich people like, then ask mayor Strickland to get it going

by fredo on 6/21/2012 @ 7:56am
  "What we can learn from that is that if Tacoma wants to attract and or retain their young people, good transit service should be part of the tool box to do so." tacoma1 

There's an underlying premise to your argument. And that premise is that the city of Tacoma has as one of it's goals the desire to attract young, and presumably unemployed, people. I'm going to challenge that premise. We already have an over sufficiency of young unemployed people. Spending more scarce funds to attract more of them is a little like Pamela Anderson spending money to get bigger breast implants. It's ultimately pointless and makes our city a laughing stock.

by cisserosmiley on 6/21/2012 @ 8:01am
Yes! It is the city's paramount duty to serve those citizens here and now in the way most needed, NOT to socially engineer Tacoma into Bellingham.

by tacoma_1 on 6/21/2012 @ 8:09am
1) We have young people here now. Retaining them and preventing brain drain is important for Tacoma's viability.

2) I'm ok if any woman wants larger breast implants. That isn't pointless. In fact it is double pointed.

by fredo on 6/21/2012 @ 8:26am

Well I guess it is important for Tacoma to retain it's young unemployed people. Without a bus system they might decide to move to other areas where there might be jobs available.

by tacoma_1 on 6/21/2012 @ 8:57am
Exactly. I would like to have Tacoma retain all of the unemployed and under employed young people at UPS, UWT, TCC, PLU, etc. after they graduate and have them want to get jobs here in Tacoma.

by cisserosmiley on 6/21/2012 @ 9:19am
That's not a very nice thing to wish on all those young people

by fredo on 6/21/2012 @ 9:21am
young people=bicycles, no need for enhanced transit taxes 

Oops, I've just let a good idea out of the bag. sorry about that. 

by Cheechmo on 6/21/2012 @ 10:43am
Does Pierce Transit have open books? Can we see what they are spending and where? I'm curious to see ridership data, as well. Before I vote on this, I would really like to know if this tax increase is as necessary as they say it is.

by dolly varden on 6/21/2012 @ 11:39am
It's shouldn't be either/or when it comes to a decent bus and streetcar system, it should be both/and.  Right now, it's neither (one)/nor (the other).  PT needs the help now (the severe service reductions that have already happened make that clear), and Tacoma needs to leverage the ST streetcar/light rail expansion money in the near future.

by fredo on 6/21/2012 @ 2:23pm
Tacoma has high unemployment, foreclosure and mortgage delinquency rates yet it would be good to pile an additional tax burden on the taxpayers for bus transit and an additional tax for streetcars?

PT does need help, but not in the form of a tax increase. It needs help with learning how to provide high service levels in a time of economic recession via reducing salary levels.  

by Erik on 6/21/2012 @ 10:07pm
Seattle has surplus streetcars they want to get rid of...hmmm


by tacoma_1 on 6/21/2012 @ 11:19pm
Pretty sure that there isn't anything that is compatible between those old vintage trolley cars and a modern, low floor street car. Probably diff track size and everything.

by fredo on 6/22/2012 @ 6:01am

Since we don't have a streetcar system how could vintage streetcars be incompatable with our track? Let's accept the Seattle streetcars and start building the TVR pronto. If tacoma_1 doesn't want to ride the re-purposed Seattle Streetcars because they don't have a modern floor it's OK with me.

by fredo on 6/22/2012 @ 6:22am
Things Fredo likes:

by tacoma_1 on 6/22/2012 @ 7:36am
1) we have a streetcar system. It's called Tacoma Link.

2) if Seattle can't use the vintage trolley cars on the SLUT line or the Capitol Hill line that they are building (and will need cars for) then we can't use 'em on TLink either.

3) Eric's latest link just goes to a letter to the editor. It is hardly a definitive piece of news.

4) low floor cars allow parents w/strollers, disabled w/wheelchairs, tourists w/luggage, bicyclists, etc to all wheel on and off quickly w/out delaying the whole line.

5) it'd be dumb to build new track for cars that are no longer manufactured. IMHO.

by fredo on 6/22/2012 @ 7:46am
Somebody call the transit folks in San Francisco and tell them to stop using those transit vehicles that don't have low floorboards. Oh, the humanity.

by fredo on 6/22/2012 @ 8:15am
People don't want to ride buses.

That's a problem that transit supporters refuse to believe. They get stuck in traffic just like the autos and they stop like every block or two to pick up or let off some slow moving folks. I don't want to sound unkind but the only thing that really attracts riders is that the public is picking up most of the costs. If the riders were paying the true cost of the ride NOBODY would board the bus. I mean NOBODY. 

by tacoma_1 on 6/22/2012 @ 9:43am
And if car drivers paid the true cost for the roads they drive on, and the true cost of gasoline, only 1% of Americans would drive.

by fredo on 6/22/2012 @ 11:16am
Well lets compare the subsidized portion of an auto owners costs to the subsidized portion of the transit riders costs so that we can begin to make intelligent policies. 

Since all transportation runs on oil or some other non-renewable resource and since all transportation runs on highways paid for by the public or track that was paid for by the public we can probably eliminate those considerations.

Secondly, even if there wasn't a single private automobile, we would still need roads and fuel because we need emergency vehicles, fire trucks, and police cars to be able to respond to emergencies. So the roads aren't there exclusively for auto owners.

by tacoma_1 on 6/22/2012 @ 2:23pm
My feet don't run on oil and they provide me transport. My bicycle doesn't run on oil and it provides me transport. Tacoma link doesn't run on oil and it provides me transport. ST's central link light rail doesn't run on oil, and it occasionally provides me transport.

Therefore all transportation does not require oil or other non renewables.

Without as many cars, multi lane city arterials wouldn't be as needed.

Without as many cars, multi year middle east wars wouldn't be as needed.

Without as many cars, multi lane highways wouldn't be as needed.

Without as many cars, treatments for obesity, diabetes, heart disease wouldn't be as needed.

Without massisive oil subsidies, trains and buses would run on electricity or natural gas.

I could go on...

by fredo on 6/22/2012 @ 3:21pm
I prefaced my remarks by saying I wanted to compare private cars to public transit.  Not sure how your feet would be relevant to that discussion.

It is true that some cars and transit use electricity. The principle fuel for all other varieties is oil or natural gas. Everybody benefits from keeping oil supplies flowing, even bicyclists. When the oil stops flowing what are you going to make bicycle tires and bus tires with...granola?

Regarding obesity, the fattest people I ever see are getting on or off the bus so that doesn't seem to be working for them.

 I could go on.

by Jesse on 6/22/2012 @ 5:21pm
1.  What about the fact that routes never change?  That's a positive to a business owner along the tracks as well as the rider.  When there are streetcars, people know all the routes because they're all right there for you to see in the form of the tracks.
2.  People know the routes... and therefore ride the routes.  I know all the rail routes in Portland but know not one bus route there.  It's because I can see the routes in the form of tracks.
3.  Over the lifetime of the streetcar, versus a bus, maintenance is lower.
4.  Pollution is lower. Ever been behind a bus?  It stinks.  Literally.

by fredo on 6/22/2012 @ 9:15pm

  Nice summary of streetcar advantages. I do think retailers would be more likely to locate where they see track. As we 've seen bus routes are here today and gone tomorrow.  

by JesseHillFan on 6/22/2012 @ 10:20pm
"When the oil stops flowing what are you going to make bicycle tires and bus tires with...granola?"
Natural Rubber as it can be used to make inner tubes and tires.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_rubber#Man... 

by fredo on 6/27/2012 @ 5:25pm
Looks like the old Seattle streetcars may have a new home after all.

Some people in seattle want to save them and resurrect the line.

Here's a quote from a nice story in the Seattle Times (6/27/12) 

"The powerful and the connected in this town do not want these trolleys," he said. "They never have."Why that is I'm not sure. It's true there are practical issues — the trolleys require raised stations that aren't compatible with low, modern streetcars. Plus they're old, and their appeal is not all that sophisticated. But look at, say, New Orleans. It has 20 miles of tracks, and manages to run hundred-year-old streetcars as well as newer models. People love it."