Jesse's Blog

Jun. 3, 2013 at 10:40am

Streetcar Cost Savings: PCCII

I was in San Francisco a few years ago and noticed, of course, the serious array of classic streetcars they had.  In use, MUNI uses many types of classic streetcars in their operation.  They're beautiful, functional, and inexpensive to restore.  The F-Line  in San Francisco is progressive and frugal thinking.  But, is it realistic to create such a system on a budget?  What about in Tacoma?  Let's take a look.

In 2010, the City of Tucson inked a deal with United Streetcar of Oregon for $26 million for 7 modern streetcars.  That's seven low-floor, ADA accessible streetcars with modern drivetrains, and A/C - the kind you see in Tacoma.

That's $3.71 million each.




Well, what if Tacoma could use classic streetcars that have been overhauled with new drivetrains, components, and have A/C and are ADA compliant?  What would that cost?  Well, it turns out you can have a classic streetcar for about $1.3 million complete with the technological ability of a modern streetcar.  In fact, one particular municipality has done this - Philadelphia.




This car is a SEPTA PCCII streetcar that's been completely refurbished by Brookville Equipment Company.  The above car includes the new drivetrain, to specs, as stated above.  It has A/C, modern running equipment and components, and is ADA compliant with wheelchair ramps.  They even found several for restoration - they're available!

That's $1.3 million each.

It has the same components and technology as a United Streetcar, similar capacity, superior attractiveness, and is interesting as all hell.

Why not?  Isn't Tacoma looking at buying about seven streetcars for the new E1 route?  If so, that's $26 million dollars versus $9.1 million for seven PCCII cars.  That's a savings of $16.9 million dollars.

So, I am asking here today, if this is an option?  Can we be this progressive?  These are the trains Tacoma would have had to buy in 1938 if it continued it's streetcar system anyways, no? 

If Tacoma can build E1, with a few spots where there's a single track instead of a double, and use PCCII trains, how much can that save?  Is it enough saved money to make a spur off of MLK to 6th and Sprague as part of the deal while completely building out E1?

comments [6]  |  posted under e1, pccii, streetcar, tacoma

Comments

by Jesse on 6/3/2013 @ 1:30pm
Oh ya, double ended versions available too!

by KevinFreitas on 6/3/2013 @ 4:20pm
I love this idea! Prettier vintage cars would look awesome even if they were Sound Transited up a bit. I wonder though if the car in your shot above is too long? Does the flex point in the middle of the current Link need to be there for some reason? Turning radius?

by tacoma_1 on 6/3/2013 @ 4:36pm
If its not a low floor design, loading and unloading takes longer, adds delays, more difficult for disabled to board, travelers with luggage won't use it, people with arthritic knees won't like climbing the stairs, grocery shoppers with little carts can't use it, and cyclist can't roll on. Little better than a bus then, IMHO 

Try getting on an ADA compliant bus in a wheelchair, then do the same on TLink. Then get back to me as to which one is convenient to use. ADA compliant doesn't necessarily mean ADA convenient.

by Jesse on 6/3/2013 @ 5:05pm
@Kevin:  Not sure about turning radius but so far, on the Tacoma system, I can only see one intersection where there's even a 90 degree angle.  That intersection has all red lights for auto traffic while LINK goes through it.  It's the intersection by the Elephant Car Wash on Pacific.

"If its not a low floor design, loading and unloading takes longer, adds delays, more difficult for disabled to board, travelers with luggage won't use it, people with arthritic knees won't like climbing the stairs, grocery shoppers with little carts can't use it, and cyclist can't roll on. Little better than a bus then, IMHO" - tacoma_1

I don't agree that people with groceries, luggage, or items wouldn't use these PCCII cars.  In fact, I think ridership would be higher as they're a bit of a novelty, gorgeous, and unique.  Besides, don't people have to climb stairs to get on a bus now?  Don't bicyclists have to put their bike on a rack instead of roll onto the bus now? If using PCCII cars frees up enough coin to build another half a mile of track, count me in.

by tacoma_1 on 6/3/2013 @ 8:47pm
Most cyclists will only put their beater bikes on the front of a bus. And there is only room for two bikes per bus. Makes traveling by bike & bus combo an iffy thing. If the bike rack is full, u cant get on. If u have a schedule to keep, it can't be done reliably. Plus I don't see a bike rack on the front of that thing. Doubt if u would be allowed to stand in front of a train to mount and dismount a bike for safety reasons, let alone that every cyclist would be delaying the train.

by JesseHillFan on 6/3/2013 @ 9:46pm
Maybe a small 20 inch wheel folding bike would be possible to bring on board a streetcar (don't know though).The bike/bus rack thing will be drastically cut when Pierce Transit eliminates mid day service (I'll be cycling to get around and not using Pierce Transit at all anymore).