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Executive Summary
   

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Executive Summary

For more than half a century, the context in which public transport operated was suburbanization. But recently, that has begun to change. Urban downtowns are reviving, and new towns are being built to traditional patterns. Not only can streetcars serve these non-suburban areas, they need streetcars in order to flourish.

Streetcars—which we define as rail transit vehicles designed for local transportation, powered by electricity received from an overhead wire—differ from both buses and Light Rail. Streetcars can be modern, Vintage (antique) or Heritage (reproduction) vehicles. All around the country, cities are building new streetcar lines. The most successful are tied in closely with the local transit system.

Construction costs for streetcar lines vary widely, although operating costs are almost always low. In general, construction of a streetcar line should cost less than $10 million per mile, one-half the “should cost” figure of Light Rail.

Three case studies look in detail at three streetcar lines with varying characteristics: The McKinney Avenue line in Dallas, which is operated almost entirely with volunteer labor; Memphis, Tennessee, which like Dallas uses Vintage streetcars but is operated by transit system personnel and serves as a precursor to Light Rail; and Portland, Oregon, the first streetcar line built in the U.S. since World War II that uses modern equipment.

In its conclusion, the study notes that some form of streetcar line is possible in any city or town. The appendices offer some practical steps and sources of help in undertaking a streetcar line project.

 

 

 
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