Richmond — Streetcars May Return
Rail Transit Online, May 2003
The city where the first successful
electric streetcars ran in the U.S. is looking seriously at a downtown light
rail system connecting the city’s primary traffic generators. A preliminary
study for the GRTC Transit System by consultants Burgess & Niple Inc. shows
two potential lines looping through downtown, the Red Route and the Blue
Route. They are basically similar, following Cary, 18th, Main, Ninth and
Broad streets. However the Red would run on Second and the Blue on Third.
City transportation planner Viktoria Badger says the use of historic
trolleys is envisioned, either new replicas or originals, and that the
initial segment could be open in five or six years. "These are not the
final routes.” Badger told the Richmond Times Dispatch. “These are just
concepts (but) it satisfies the need of getting people from one part of
downtown to another.” The capital cost has been estimated at around $40
million, with half coming from the federal government. Other possible
funding sources include the city, state, an assessment district and the
private sector. “We all recognize the success of our downtown is going to
depend on some additional modes of transportation," Mayor Rudolph C.
McCollum Jr. told the Times Dispatch. “This could be more affordable, more
fun than a typical cab ride.” Streetcars first ran in Richmond in 1888 when
inventor Frank Julian Sprague, who also developed multiple unit operation,
electrified a horse-car line.