Jarrett Walker at Human Transit finally said what a lot of us have been thinking: all other things being equal, streetcars are just as slow as buses. He concludes his long-running argument by criticizing Portland’s newfound streetcar obsession, and citing Seattle’s failed monorail plan:
We saw this happen in the dying days of the Seattle Monorail Project (1996-2005). As the costs ballooned and support dried up, the proponents’ last move was to shorten the line, reducing its benefits, because their first duty was not to serve the needs of the corridor but to build a monorail at all costs.
The bottom line: crying for streetcars in a city isn’t always going to solve that city’s mobility problem. And being fixated on any single form of transit that may not necessarily serve that city’s needs is counterproductive.
Photo of Seattle’s South Lake Union Trolley by Chris O’Leary