May 25, 2018

Why cities need buses, not streetcars

Thirty or forty years ago, the Review was a big advocate of streetcars. Then it became apparent that the new streetcar industry was vastly over expensive and we switched our support back to buses and exclusive bus lanes. Here is one current example of why we made this change

Washington Examiner - For the last two years, the little red and yellow DC Streetcar has chugged 2.2 miles up and down the increasingly chic H Street corridor, ferrying passengers from Union Station to the Benning Road terminal, delivering them to boutique whiskey bars, yuppie grocery stores, and a public 18-hole golf course along the way.

Best of all, passengers hop on and hop off without paying a penny. There are no fares for the DC Streetcar. But the trendy little transport is far from being cheap. According to the D.C. Department of Transportation the city spent $22.95 per passenger-mile in 2016 — meaning that on average, that was the operating cost to move one passenger one mile.

... According to the Federal Transit Administration, the DC Streetcar ferried an average of 2,419 passengers per weekday in March 2016, compared with 3,420 passengers per weekday in March of 2018. That’s a bump, but it is blip when compared to the more than 14,000 travelers who ride city buses along the same route and the more than 767,000 passengers who ride the Metro.

Perhaps more practical would be additional bus lanes.

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