But wait, there’s more. The Washington Post editorializes on an Arlington, VA streetcar project that’s attained woofer status. In part, its streetcars
would make traffic worse and, because they are overpriced, would siphon resources away from other important needs. Some say that only streetcars can stimulate desired development. Not so. Last July, the Government Accountability Office reported that modern buses can stimulate development just as well as streetcars can. Some cities, like Cleveland, have experienced better development along bus rapid transit lines than has been experienced around the best streetcar system.
Some say streetcars have a proven track record of success. Not true. The finances of Portland, Ore., and Tampa are strained today by decreasing ridership and ballooning annual operating costs for their streetcars. Some say only the streetcar can provide needed capacity. Not true. The best U.S. streetcars carry a fraction of the number of riders carried by the highest-capacity U.S. bus routes, even where the buses do not have dedicated lanes. The high cost and low benefit of streetcars persuaded Montgomery County and Alexandria to pause long-planned streetcar projects and look at modern bus transit. Arlington, too, needs to perform a hard-headed cost-benefit analysis before moving forward.
Anaheim has plenty to look forward to if they implement the $319 million system the City Council is planning with OCTA Measure M funding that all Orange County consumers have religiously paid into for over a decade. These situations are real — I experienced them in San Francisco when their trolleys ran on Market Street (they’re now underground at significant expense) — one breakdown affected ALL.