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Thread: Columbus streetcar project

  1. #1
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    Columbus streetcar project

    Funding for the streetcar program in Columbus was made available this week.

    http://www.downtowncolumbus.com/deve...ancialPlan.pdf

    The line will just run up High Street 2.8 miles through downtown to the south end of the Ohio State Campus. The goal is to start construction in 2010 and to have the streetcars running by 2012.

    Being from Columbus, I don't really see the benefit of the placement on the streetcar. It covers a small area that at least to me doesn't seem to be dying in need of streetcars. Part of the inherent problem is that Columbus is a fairly anti-public-transit city. Light rail has been put on the ballot and voted down multiple times. Everybody drives around in their SUV's and doesn't think twice about public transit. Granted COTA, the bus system, isn't great. It isn't very time efficent and takes multiple transfers to get where you want to go.

    I don't see a streetcar changing any of this sadly. With gas prices the way they are a lot of people could benefit from solid public transit to get from the suburbs to downtown. Light rail, similar to Portland, would be perfect. I just have a feeling that this line isn't the right place to start, which could give everybody a bad impression and as such curtail any expansion of light rail or streetcars in the city.

  2. #2
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    This is a duplicate of my other thread, Sorry! Maybe a Mod can delete one of them.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Map shows a streetcar system somewhere by me is operating. I can't think of any!
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jkellerfsu's avatar
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    Baltimore Streetcar

    Here is a link to our version in Baltimore. I am not going to comment as I have been directed to remain unbiased
    http://www.charlesstreet.org/trolley/

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jkellerfsu View post
    Here is a link to our version in Baltimore. I am not going to comment as I have been directed to remain unbiased
    http://www.charlesstreet.org/trolley/
    Very interesting. I'm a little leery of adding another transit line that has so few direct connections with other rail transit--the two biggest problems (design-wise, apart from the mismanagement, poor leadership, poor cost-management, red-headed-stepchild neglect by the state, and "doing less with less" mentality that have plagued the MTA almost, apparently, from the start) with Baltimore's transit system are inadequite coverage and poor connectivity. The Metro subway and light rail are each lonely starter lines that serve only a limited number of places and have too few connections to each other, the popular but similarly limited pair (out of a total of 3 1/2) MARC commuter rail lines that pass through the city, and the bus routes. Still, if this trolley is built in such a way that it can be incorporated with minimum trouble and expense into a larger comprehensive light rail system at some later date, when the political will, public support, and resources are available, it might be worth a shot.

    Such provisions for future expansion/incorporation might be a plus for Columbus' trolley, CBJTiger.

    DetroitPlanner: Maybe your map is an old one? Or maybe it's that People Mover thing?

  6. #6

    Streetcar Routes

    Planning routes has very little to do with traditional transit planning (e.g., connections to othe rmodes of transport, emphasis on home/work commutes, etc.) and much more to do with driving urban form. It's not about mobility, it's about access and choice. The best possible scenario for streetcar lines is to look for underdeveloped areas, choose alignments that serve those areas and link them to other activity nodes, and ensure that the streetcar line leverages the greatest amount of redevelopment activity as possible.

    Light rail, commuter rail, and passenger rail are more the realm of traditional rail planning; the streetcar is really most useful as an inner-city circulator.

    - Matt.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian jkellerfsu's avatar
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    PDXMattB-

    I have to comment on your statement

    "The best possible scenario for streetcar lines is to look for underdeveloped areas, choose alignments that serve those areas and link them to other activity nodes, and ensure that the streetcar line leverages the greatest amount of redevelopment activity as possible."

    This is how our Light Rail and Metro were supposed to work. One of the biggest reasons we have a fear of transit in Baltimore is that the "underdeveloped" (translated undesirable) areas connected "undesireables" to the well developed locations. Crime and business failure follow the lines.

    Portland, while the model of transportation doesn't have the same social structure as cities like Baltimore and Chicago and the same rules don't apply.

    Once our website is up and running, I will share the new downtown circulator of Baltimore. We haven't branded it yet or anything - more to follow.

  8. #8

    "undesirables"

    Jkeller:

    I understand what you're saying regarding the transit system in Baltimore. I lived there for five years (1989 - 1994) and remember (with some measure of disgust) the opposition in Ruxton to a light rail stop - as if the best way to steal someone's TV was to hop on LRT from "the 'hood," walk around, case a house, steal a TV, and hop back on LRT as your getaway.

    It was an unfortunate symptom of the way Americans felt about their cities then, and probably now as well.

    All that being said, I still firmly stand by my statement that the ultimate benefit of a streetcar is not what it serves today but what it leverages tomorrow, and the planning of the alignment should reflect that.

    Go O's!

    - Matt.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian southern_yank's avatar
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    This brings up a good point about how light rail/heavy rail serves as a catalyst for development in a struggling city with major population loss. A lot of transit complaints in Baltimore revolve around what JKeller said - visibly blighted areas surrounding many metro/light rail stations. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was unrealistic to think that building fixed rail transit would revive neighborhoods when so many other issues were bringing the city down. Maybe expectations were too high, and it was bad timing to build these lines when they did. Though the Baltimore metro wasn't responsible for damaging nearby communities, it was perceived as such by many residents - again, because of unrelated market and socioeconomic factors.

    So a big part of what Baltimore has to do (and other post-industrial rustbelt cities) is educate people and rebuild trust in transit. There is a greater understanding of TOD now than there was 20 years ago in the U.S., and many cities which were in free fall in the 1980s can now seriously benefit by trolleys and light rail in the 2000s and 2010s. It's important to stress that engineering, urban planning and market knowledge of fixed rail transit (including trolleys) has progressed since the first U.S. systems were built.

    As for Baltimore's proposed trolley line, it connects more attractions than Portland's trolley, and will have a stop at Penn Station (which is a light rail station as well). I look at the project as expanding a market area (Inner Harbor) which 13 million people visit each year. This is a great opportunity to expand tourism past the waterfront even if it will be another decade until more connections are made between the trolley and light rail.

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