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Mary Hynes Pens Op-Ed Supporting Streetcars

by ARLnow.com — May 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm 3,029 118 Comments

A streetcar line in Crystal City is essential for keeping the area from becoming clogged with traffic as the population and workforce grows over the next 30 years, Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in an opinion piece published in the Arlington Connection on Wednesday.

Making a case for the large investment required to build a streetcar system, Hynes argued that the streetcar is part of Arlington’s “smart growth” philosophy.

“Traffic on many major Arlington streets is less than it was in 1970, even though our population has doubled in that time,” Hynes wrote. “The secret sauce is Arlington’s commitment to ‘smart growth’ planning — our commitment to transit-oriented development that keeps density along our transit corridors, while preserving neighborhoods. In fact, more than half of Arlington’s real property values are on just 11 percent of our land — our Metrorail corridors. It is a philosophy that is the backbone to Arlington’s success, the envy of many in the region and the nation.”

Hynes said that by 2040, Crystal City and Pentagon City are collectively expected to add 8,500 residents to the existing population of 17,400. Through the Crystal City Sector Plan, Hynes also expects the neighborhoods to add 35,500 jobs during that time.

That growth doesn’t necessarily have to result in additional traffic headaches, but it will if investments are not made in transit, according to Hynes.

“The modern streetcar for Crystal City — a line that will initially connect Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard — is an important first step,” Hynes wrote.

“Eventually, this ‘Route 1′ line will meet up in Pentagon City with the planned streetcar line on Columbia Pike, providing riders with a one-seat option to travel from Potomac Yard to the Skyline area in our partner jurisdiction, Fairfax County,” Hynes continued. “Without these strategic investments, our streets could become clogged with traffic, our quality of life could decline, and our robust economy could be at risk — the exact opposite of what we’ve achieved since the 1960s and what we know is possible when a community plans carefully.”

Hynes’ op-ed comes at a time when the county is seeking public comment on the planned Columbia Pike streetcar line. It also comes as Arlington and Alexandria engage in a mini war of words over federal funding for the potential Alexandria portion of the Route 1 streetcar line.

“We hope [the streetcar] may even stretch further south into Alexandria one day,” Hynes wrote.

  • Douglas Park

    Go Mary. Some of us like streetcars.

    • Becoming indifferent

      Yes Mary, go. Please go. And take the ridiculous streetcar plan with you.

    • Clarendon

      I don’t have any experienced-based ‘like’ for streetcars, but it does seem like a quality transportation element – not as good as metro rail, but much cheaper. The part she says about integrated transportation network is important and linking that with land-use is what smart growth is about. Paris has a really good integrated rail network with Metro, RER and some others that we should learn from.

  • South Walter Reed

    She makes a strong case.
    Let’s build it.

  • .T~G.E^OA

    BRT is far cheaper and more flexible for CP. As for CC to Alexandria, buses are good enough for now.

    • Dee

      There is a 100% chance that you never rode a bus down route one. Its slow, crowded and uncomfortably bumpy. A rail service is needed. BRT at the minimum.

      • T`GEOA

        BRT is superior to bus service at more than half the cost of a trolley.

        The economic development factor of trolley’s is B.S.

        • speonjosh

          How do you know?

  • LuLu

    What a bunch of hogwash. Just go throw our tax dollars in a big dark hole, why don’t you?

    • DCBuff

      Actually, that is exactly what our Board does. Between the schools and the county, we have well over $2 billion in bonds they are going to try and float in the next few years. Good enough for more than $10,000 per resident–this doesn’t count any of the normal day-to-day.

    • drax

      No, that’s highways.

  • CA

    Whats with the obsession with streetcars.

    • marie antoinette

      +100. Too much free time and our money on their hands…

    • http://cmattick.tumblr.com AllMimsy

      Agree … why are they so rare if they’re such an efficient mode of transportation? Answer: they aren’t efficient. They’re inflexible, unable to change with a potential change in development landscape. Need to drop this nonsense.

      • drax

        No, they are quite efficient. You are using a fallacy. You think because they aren’t perfect for YOU that they aren’t good for everyone, including you, as a group instead.

        This fallacy is what leads people to think of how wonderful it would be if they could have a nice ride in a big car every day, but not think about the fact that everybody else would like it too, jamming our highways to saturation point – making the car drive not so nice for anyone.

      • jan

        Wrong! America’s love for the new invention – cars -pushed them out.

        I’ve extensively used streetcars in Budapest and Vancouver. Oh, and New Orleans. How wonderful not to have to rely on a car. In Vancouver they seem to have the right of way and to be able to switch lights in their favor.

  • Mary-Austin

    At first I thought a streetcar in the Crystal City area actually makes because it is a highly commercial corridor and wouldn’t have much of an impact on existing residential neighborhoods.
    On second thought we already have metro rail that pretty much covers this route (especially with a new Potomac Yard station).
    Also it is a pretty walkable area and not that long of a distance.
    I think we would be better served by encouraging more people to get some exercise and walk more with some more appealing greener walkways.

    • Becoming indifferent

      Exactly! The distance is walkable and already covered by Metro!

    • somewhere the rest of the world is laughing

      Do you even ride the Metro? Do you understand the blue line is at peak capacity at rush hour? The population is increasing…30k new jobs…

      Do The Math

      • Becoming indifferent

        30k new jobs? In Crystal City? Not anytime soon.

      • Mary-Austin

        I usually ride the yellow line because it is way less crowded than blue and orange.
        Why not use the existing infrastructure and pay for some more cars and trains? People would then be able to travel more than several blocks.

        • South Awwlington

          The yellow is “way-less crowded” than blue. Please share, at what time of the day is this? It’s never the case when I am waiting on trains at Pentagon City.

    • Streetcar BS

      +1

  • John Fontain

    As I travel this great nation of ours, I am oft approached by random strangers telling me about their envy of Arlington. She speaketh the truth and not hyperbole!

    • DCBuff

      Yes, but they don’t pay our taxes. Ask them if they’d pony up similar cash, and all that “envy” might just disappear. Nor would many of them agree with Arlington’s brand of social welfare.

      • drax

        Yes, ask them – please.

        Our taxes are relatively low.

      • DcOil

        DC, do you own a car? how much cash do you pony up for payments, insurance, gas, maintenance, tickets (parking &/or speeding). I’m sure its much cheaper than riding mass transit, no doubt.

      • Josh

        Our taxes are lower than several bordering localities… if you prefer to pay more taxes you can move!

        • drax

          http://commerce.uli.org/misc/BeltwayBurden.pdf

          The cost of driving can outweigh what you save by living in the outer suburbs.

          But they’ll have the comfort of driving in a nice car…for two or so hours each way, every day.

  • arlgirl

    Most of you were not around for the streetcars that used to be in downtown DC. What a traffic nightmare around them! Yes, I realize that streetcars have been greatly modernized and I’ve been in other cities like Salt Lake where they have trollies that seem to work okay. But always at the cost of room for cars. So I see this as yet another attack by the Arlington County Board on automobile drivers — yet another forced part of the “car free diet” that they spend many of my tax dollars promoting. These streetcars will have to be put into existing roadway space somehow, which will impact room for cars. There is no way they will carry enough people to make a big enough difference in traffic to prevent bigger traffic jams. Think about who will ride these streetcars and ask whether they are people who normally drive, or whether they are people who normally take the bus, a taxi, the Metro, or walk to get to wherever they’re going.
    I’m with the comment from Becoming Indifferent: “Yes Mary, go. Please go. And take the ridiculous streetcar plan with you.”

    • give it up

      cars do not belong in big cities. We are at that point already there’s no turning back to selfish 1 person car commutes.

      • marie antoinette

        So says Queen “Give It Up.” Who gives you the right to decide unilaterally that c
        ars don’t belong in big cities?

        • fauxnews

          who gave you the right to decide streetcars don’t belong in Arlington?

          Robespierre?

        • drax

          Physics, marie. Simple physics. You simply can’t fit enough cars into cities to make them efficient without any other mode. Go look at a city street and observe the traffic congestion.

        • not your bro

          I don’t understand your positions. Can you explain better? Perhaps in your first language, since English is your second?

      • Clarendoodle

        I believe cities can handle most every thing, but it is a matter of priority. Cities should prioritize people which is after all their reason for being. Cars can be allowed in but need to be kept in line and not dominate. The interstate highway is the domain of the car. Just as people feel unease and the need for caution walking along or across an interstate highway, cars should feel that discomfort when traversing through the city. The idea in a city is to stash the car as quickly as possible and get out as a person.

    • Corey

      I love it. You say the streetcar will a) make traffic worse, but b) no one will switch from driving to public transportation.

      Do you think drivers are all a bunch of idiots who would watch empty, comfortable streetcars whizzing by them as they sit in traffic, and not think, “wow, maybe I should try those out?”

      • drax

        Kind of like Metro is completely empty these days because nobody would switch from cars.

      • Suburban Not Urban

        “watching empty street cars whizzing by” Because I’ve seen it happen – they don’t go but a few places – you contrain your life if you depend only on the streetcar. People in the old days had smaller horizon’s and less expectations of mobility.

        • drax

          What a joke.

          Transit gives you MORE mobility, not less. You can use a car when you want, and a streetcar when you want to escape the traffic and parking.

          And transit encourages businesses to come to you instead, by locating near stations. That increases your mobility even more.

          Nobody wants to ban all cars. The fact is that the more options we have, the more mobile we are. No mode is perfect, and we should have a mix.

  • enough already

    What’s wrong with taking the bus Mary??? How do these people keep getting elected? Go do something useful for a change and bake me some cookies

    • novasteve

      How do they keep on getting elected?

      Duh, they have a (D) after their name. That’s how.

      • drax

        I vote for whoever I think is the best candidate. That’s usually a D. I am not an idiot, steve. Don’t stoop so low as to attribute voters’ beliefs to “they’re just mindless idiots.” That’s how you lose elections, over and over.

        • Andrew

          Drax, it is great that you vote for who you think is the best candidate. Do you really think everyone (or even a majority) else does?

          • drax

            Andrew,

            Wow. First of all, why would anyone vote for someone for any other reason? Sure, some people may think that a D (or R) next to their name automatically makes them the best, but so what? That’s their reasoning, based on their experience.

            Second, I’m not saying everyone is smart. I’m saying it’s arrogant, not to mention a great way to lose an election, to say that everyone who disagrees with you is stupid and everyone who agrees with you is smart. There are plenty of smart voters on all sides and plenty of stupid dolts who vote for nothing but a party label on both sides. It’s really not an argument for anything at all.

    • Hungry

      Or make me a sandwich, ya broad

      • Vincent

        Sexist comments. That’s real productive. I thought these comments were moderated.

        • SomeGuy

          Pretty much every one of my comments gets delayed in moderation lately and then approved 30 or more minutes later. WTF?

    • Bum

      ..and stay off my lawn!!

      • WeiQiang

        the ArlNow Blue Book requires that such comments abide by the following syntax:

        “Keep that off my lawn!”

        • WeiQiang

          … sorry. the comment system does not like those bracket things.

          Try again:

          the ArlNow Blue Book requires that such comments abide by the following syntax:
          “Keep that [insert name of pet project/overpriced public space project/topless photograph] off my lawn!”

          • fauxnews

            Do you mean style manual?

            Blue Books are what used to list the names of prominent members of society . . .

          • Montana Society

            I’m referring to the Bluebook: A Uniform System Of Citation

  • Brian

    The difference between buses and street cars ( and why govt loves streetcars):
    1) Streetcars cost more.
    2) Streetcars cause more traffic problems do govt can”fix” them.
    3) Buses could get shifted to another line with zero additional cost.
    4) Streetcars get more publicity (ahem…), do the politician gets there name in front of the voters “doing something”.

    • somewhere the rest of the world is laughing

      Buses are better! – That is exactly what the opposition to metro said.

      • Becoming indifferent

        Are you trying to compare Metro to streetcars? Apples and oranges.

      • jan

        I remember those days. Constitution Ave had an impenetrable line of buses on the curb lanes picking up passengers and then fighting to merge left and then merge back for more passengers. It was a nightmare to drive which is probably why more people seemed to take the bus.

    • give it up

      buses have never promoted urban development..

    • soarlslacker

      Buses are better and the PC-CC-PY area is an easy walk or bike ride. There are bike share stations all over the area. You can’t buy groceries and take them home on a street car, a bus, or a bike so cars are still needed…unless you like going to the store every day. Can you see folks shopping at Costco in PC and trying to catch a street car home with their purchases?

      • Corey

        “You can’t buy groceries and take them home on a street car, a bus, or a bike so cars are still needed”

        Hear that? That’s everyone in every major city in the world laughing at you.

      • nom de guerre

        Just like I can envision the cyclists and/or walkers taking their purchases home from the Ikea that they proposed for Ballston Common Mall.

        • drax

          Ikea delivers.

          • JAMACA

            So, add delivery trucks to the roads to replace cars. Holy Twisted Logic!

      • drax

        People buy groceries with a bike every day.

        People also drive cars when they need them, and bikes when they need them.

        The person with access to lots of options is the one who is happiest. The city with the most options is the most efficient.

        I’m glad Arlington, it’s leaders, and most of its people understand this and don’t listen to the dolts who don’t.

        • Sandy

          Do you do anything besides post on this website?

          • sunflower

            why drax hasnt given up in frustration and run screaming into the night is beyond me

        • Becoming indifferent

          So people who don’t agree with the county on a questionable, at best, idea are dolts? Nice.

          • drax

            “So people who don’t agree with the county on a questionable, at best, idea are dolts?”

            No, and I didn’t write that.

          • sunflower

            pls reread the third paragraph. — slowly

      • Michael H.

        I buy groceries and take them home by bike frequently. So do other people. Not everyone is shopping for a family of 4. There are many people in Arlington in smaller households. Even for those with larger households, there isn’t a need to buy an entire week’s worth of groceries at a time. More frequent trips — that’s another approach that many people use. And yes, some people enjoy biking or walking enough that they would buy less each trip and just go more often.

        As for the streetcars vs. Metro, I see the point that Metro isn’t really designed to serve as a Circulator-type system. Metrobus was supposed to all of D.C. but in trying to cast such a wide net, it led to poor coverage in certain high-traffic areas. That’s why they added the Circulator routes: shorter routes with greater frequency. I think that’s the idea behind the streetcars. The shorter routes can lead to greater frequency.

        I’m not 100% sold on the streetcars but I can see why they could be beneficial. However, there may be problems with the tracks causing issues for cyclists. This has already been a problem with the streetcar tracks in D.C. on H St. NE.

  • Mc

    Maybe if we get streetcars, Rolling Thunder can leave their dumb bikes at home.

  • JimPB

    Opinions. Opinions. Opinions.
    How about some Facts. Facts. Facts.

    1 — There’s no way that a car (or two or three) for all those living and working in Crystal City can be accommodated, at least not without enormous garages on every block. The construction, operation and maintenance of those garages will have to be paid for. No way I want those costs in my taxes. How will those who work and live in Crystal City like the tab (certain to be substantial) for parking?

    2 — Then there’s accommodating all those vehicles on the streets. No way, no how. Residents of high density urban areas recognize the limitation. Look at NYC. Transit is available above and below ground, and is heavily used. Taxis are also available in number, and are heavily used, too.
    Look at London with variable tolls for vehicles to enter the city core as a means to control vehicular congestion.

    3 — If cars are not to be the dominant means of transportation in Crystal City, how will those who work and live there get around there?
    Walking — how many walk to stores/to work (from a parking space up or transit stop a mile or more distant)?
    Skating — how about a bit of CA life style.
    Biking — yes, there are some, and there number may grow, but a NIG NUMBER. Optimism springs eternal, but then there’s reality.
    Segwaying — yes, this, too, will help a bit,
    but, even after getting a total for the above, a large number will remain to be accommodated. So, one or more modalities of mass transit will have to come to the fore. Reserved lanes make sense so that public transit can be rapid transit. So, car lovers, but passenger density on mass transit trumps passenger density for cars. Within the reserved lanes, the choices are electric or petroleum powered and wheels or rails. What are the pros and cons of each? Cumulative total cost (purchase, operating, maintenance) is key, but public acceptance is a factor, too.

    • fauxnews

      what’s a NIG NUMBER?

      Is it the same thing that got banned on the war memorial thread?

  • brodies

    I’m in the pro-streetcar group. Proper BRT requires dedicated lanes, something you simply cannot provide throughout much of Columbia Pike (without making the traffic situation even worse). Buses also do not provide the same sense of permanency as a rail-like system and thus, to me at least, seem significantly less likely to spur development.

    • SomeGuy

      You say proper BRT requires dedicated lanes. But you realize that the proposed streetcar wouldn’t have dedicated lanes either, right? So what’s the big difference there?

      • wut

        The streetcar will just be a car in the street, stuck in traffic like everybody else. It will more efficient at putting more people in a single container that is stuck in traffic with everybody else.

    • Andrew

      Street cars provide a sense of permanency? Didn’t DC used to have street cars?

      • InternetSavant

        Only temporarily.

  • SomeGuy

    She bases her case for streetcars entirely on expected growth, but that misses the point. People don’t question the need for a mass transit option for the “Route 1 Line.” People question the board’s opinion that a streetcar is the only viable mass transit option for that line.

    Yet she doesn’t address why a high-quality high-frequency bus service for a fraction of the cost would not also address the transit need, and I think it’s because she doesn’t have a solid answer for why it wouldn’t.

  • pdksobe

    Couldn’t they just add a 5th, middle turning lane to improve traffic/congestion on Columbia Pike for less $?

    Look at the waste/hassle of H street NE’s awful experience as a warning for Arlington not to follow down this path.

    • South Arlington

      Awful experience? There has been tens of millions of dollars of business investment in that formerly moribund area in large part because of the streetcar. Not to mention the improvement of the adjoining areas, and the associated increase in property values. Just look at that area when it only had bus service and a dedicated BID funded shuttle from Chinatown – there was 1/20th the development and investment. Buses don’t spur investment like rail.

      • .T~G.E^OA

        CP development is going to come with or without the trolley. BRT is the most practical transit option.

        • South Arlington

          Based on what? The other bus serviced corridors aren’t seeing the same investment in development and new businesses. Lee Highway certainly isn’t seeing a ton of it. H St. NE wasn’t seeing tens of millions of investment until their streetcar plan was enacted. CP stagnated for decades while the Orange Line attracted investment to that corridor. How exactly is BRT going to be “rapid transit” without a dedicated lane? If there is going to be a dedicated lane, give it to the streetcar. It sounds like what you call BRT is just the same as what we have now.

  • Airwolf

    Is there a “case” for streetcars here? I just hear a bunch of stuff that smart growth is good and we need to do something. Please please explain why this is better than lower cost alternatives.

    • The Party Is Over

      Elvis has left the building….the Board has decided….you will have a streetcar like it or not.

      That, my friends, is the Arlington Way.

      • drax

        No it’s not.

        • Becoming indifferent

          Yes it is.

          • replytothat

            most definitely is the case. It’s a done deal. This article was a token plea.
            I wonder what arlington would look like if the federal gov actually spent within its means.

  • Nick

    “Finally, when I say that big capital spending has to make sense in the long term, it obviously depends on whose money we’re spending. If the property owners along a street want to pay for a streetcar, and it can be done in a way that matches the speed and reliability of the bus that’s there now (and maintain that into the future as traffic increases) then I can’t see why anyone would object. If public money goes into it, my role as a consultant is to help communities make well informed decisions, so I’d just want to make sure that they don’t have a false expectation of the level of mobility it will offer.”

    * * *
    “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. They sacrificed the actual goal of the technology in order to save the technology itself, and in that case, they ended up with nothing. If the Seattle Monorail Project had been defined as the “Northwest and West Seattle Rapid Transit Project,” charged with determining the community’s goals and selecting the best technology to meet them, I bet we’d have some kind of rapid transit in that corridor by now. We might even have a monorail. Instead, because the organisation was committed to the technology first, it ended in failure.”

    * * *
    “The diversity of transit needs in each city is so great, and geography of each corridor is so different, that the decision about the right mode needs to be made corridor-by-corridor. Portland’s new Streetcar Network Plan does acknowledge this, but the entire scope and definition of the study is still troubling. The question as framed by the study was not “What are our transit needs, and how do we meet them?” Rather, it was framed as “We want streetcars!!! So where do we put them?”

    http://www.humantransit.org/2009/07/streetcars-an-inconvenient-truth.html

  • FedUp

    There are alternatives to the streetcar, but they are not discussed by the County, because they have their minds set on streetcars, no matter how costly the installation and the maintenance.

    http://thecityfix.com/blog/why-streetcars-evaluating-the-alternatives/

    • Andrew

      Good article, shame most people won’t read it…

  • Southeast Jerome

    people- it doesnt have to be like this.

    If you dont want a streetcar, vote for someone else. Its pretty simple.

    Just like if you dont want a president that makes you feel bad because your business profits, dont vote for that president.

    When is Obama going to start picking on Mark Zuckerburg for not paying his fair share? The same day the media doesnt characterize Facebook as Democratic.

    Similar to Arlington. If you dont like it – vote for someone else.

    • drax

      They can also whine and moan, and then enjoy the benefits of the streetcar years later and never put two and two together.

  • What!

    Just say No to streetcars

  • BRT

    Bust rapid transit would save the taxpayers $400 million. Articulated buses in Las Vegas share the streets with double deck buses, no problem.

    • Michael H.

      Las Vegas is not a good example if you’re talking about economic development.

  • ArlingtonWay

    These people are going to get their ridiculous trolley. No matter the cost, no matter if it makes sense, no matter if you like it or not. They know you can’t do anything about it.

    • Becoming indifferent

      Unfortunately, you’re probably right.

      • ArlingtonWay

        I would actually feel better about if they didn’t pretend all the time to have this magical Arlington Way where they listen to public concerns and really weigh opinion. Wow! Such a tough call! We’re really struggling with it. Just tell the truth. “We want our trolley and we’re gonna build it. What the eff are you going to do about it? And you know what else? After we fulfill every developer’s wet dream and turn Columbia Pike into Clarendon South, we’re gonna raise your taxes again, because, oh the humanity! What happened to all the AFFORDABLE HOUSING!? We need affordable housing, don’t we? Cripes!

  • Alex

    Good buses and good stops work very well.

  • Dude Where’s My Car

    I don’t have my mind made up…

    It does seem to be generally true that streetcars have better ridership than buses they replace. The streetcar seems to be a more pleasant experience, or at least, less likely to knock a filling out of your teeth by going over a pothole.

    Higher ridership is a good thing — presumably it leads to higher density development, higher growth, higher revenues for the County etc. etc.

    What I don’t know is what the increase in ridership would be (for a streetcar replacing bus routes), and whether that ridership increase justifies the increased cost of the streetcar….

    The whole discussion will seem quaint in 50 years when the buses are all Autonomous Vehicles. ;-)

  • Streetcar BS

    I’m all for mass transit, but this is an unnecessarily expensive vanity project, plain and simple.

    The proposed Crystal City streetcar route is never more than a few hundred feet from a Metro station (particularly with the coming infill station). Moreover, Metro power upgrades and car purchases to support 100% 8-car trains during peak times gives considerable room for Metro capacity growth without the unnecessary expense and disruption of the construction and operation of an inflexible streetcar. After all, Blue line Rush+ service reductions during peak times were possible because of relatively low ridership relative to the Orange line, and walking, CaBi, and buses fill any remaining gaps nicely.

    I don’t buy the ‘jobs’ mathi-magic either; they may be ‘new’ but I don’t believe that aggregate employment levels in Crystal City will exceed pre-BRAC levels for years, which the existing transit has handled adequately.

    • South Arlington

      I don’t agree with the Crystal City line, but there are likely going to be more jobs very soon, if not now in Crystal City. BRAC moved out of the old Charles Smith run down buildings, but now there are huge square footage buildings going up on the south side of Crystal City towards Potomac Yard. It is a long hike from the Metro to get over there (less so possibly after the PY metro opens). Just look at the EPA building, the new hotels, the new residential buildings, and the new office towers going up over there.

  • John Andre

    We don’t need more internal-combustion cars. They contribute to climate change…including last year’s no-snow non-winter. With the exception of 2009/2010 Washington has had far less than its normal fifteen inches of snow each winter…CO2 from car emissions [and coal burning] has probably been a factor. Even during the snowy winter we had no big cold waves the way we had back in 1982 and 1985. Private cars are a bigger CO2 emitter than streetcars, trains or even aircraft since they carry fewer passengers per vehicle. Let’s have more hybrid, electric and hydrogen cars, especially in urban/suburban settings.

  • CC

    The streetcar sounds interesting for the neighborhood but AC needs to consider alternatives and weigh the impact of added congestion with these street cars. My main concern is the same that I had when metro opened. Its great at the start but poor management on the system could lead to outrageous prices for each trip. At that point, riders realize that it’s cheaper to drive.

    Have you ever tried to take a family of four to a Nats game on the Metro? They run less trains, fewer cars than before, it’s more expensive, etc. and it’s cheaper to drive into the District and park at the stadium.

    • soarlslacker

      Driving turns out to be more convenient. The Metro station is so very crowed that I have had to hang on to the other folks I am with so we are not separated. Pick a tall person to hang on to. They can see farther through the crowd and try to work your group toward a train.

      • drax

        And the REASON driving is more convenient for you is that lots of people are on the Metro instead of in cars in front of you.

  • Douglas Parker

    Financial Summary – Expenditure Growth
    Exceeds Projected Revenue
    – Revenue growth = 2%
    – Expenditure growth = 3%

    That excerpt comes DIRECTLY from Arlington County’s FY2013 Fiscal Budget Overview….

    NO STREETCAR UNTIL WE BALANCE THE BUDGET. DON’T RAISE MY TAXES FOR UNNECESSARY PROJECTS. LIKE ROUND-ABOUTS AND STREETCARS.

    IF YOU WANT A STREET CAR USE YOUR MONEY.

  • South Awwlington

    Time to save a copy of the Streetcar response to my desktop to continually post over and over again. I have lived in an visited cities with streetcars. They do not prove a problem for auto-vehicular traffic. They board quickly and efficiently. They lend a sense of commitment to economic development and are much cheaper than digging a tunnel for heavy real METRO.

    BRT shouldn’t even be discussed as we aren’t seeking to move people at least 10 miles. It actually runs contrary to what the streetcar would/could do. The Pike isn’t a speedway and while it does currently suffer from some poor planning, additional turning lanes will ease the slalom effect and traffic, streetcar included, will move much easier and more efficiently. PERIOD.

    • Becoming indifferent

      And how will turning lanes be added? By widening Columbia Pike? Not possible.

      What cities are you talking about with street cars? Salt Lake City has something akin to a street car, but they don’t have the vehicular traffic of the Dc area. In addition, when I was there in 2005, no a lot of people seemed to use it.

      • South Awwlington

        Please visit for the Columbia Pike Multi-Modal Study website for detailed images of how the Pike will look, including left-turn lanes. http://www.pikemultimodal.com/

        You’ll need to navigate to “About this Project” and then to “Project Documents.”

        Thanks.

  • http://purple.com/purple.html Captain Pup McPuppo

    *howls & hops on the imaginary streetcar that would be so cool if they’d really build it*

  • Jim Oliver

    I ride public transit. I have used public transit systems all over the world. Trollies work very well in many many major cities all over the world so Arlington is not doing anything that hasn’t been done in hundreds of other places. For those who just want to grind an axe over taxes or government spending or Arlington’s current political bent, thank you for sharing. For those who talk about our taxes supporting the trolly, I recommend that you actually learn about the project. As a nation, within Virginia, and even in Arlington, we fund transit with tax dollars. As an engineer and staunch fiscal conservative, I do not like how much money we spend on our road network dedicated largely to cars commuting. It is appalling to me how much land that could be used for better purposes gets taken up to subsidize car owners and drivers. Cars are also a tremendous tax we place on private developers in requiring that they cater to the owners with parking garages, wasted building frontage for entrances and exits and the diversion of management resources to maintain these facilities. Larger busses may be a short-term solution. If anyone can show that larger busses are a long term solution, please post some details or references. I am surprised at how many smart people look at today and try to project that future out 30, 40, or 50 years (well beyond the life of any bus, but only getting into the maturity of a streetcar system). How accurate do you think someone in 1880 would have been able to predict 1930 or someone in 1930 predict 1980.

    And, now I have to ask why some of you are picking on Mrs. Hynes? Doesn’t this project substantially predate her presence on the ACB? If we want elected leaders who ignore facts and evidence and just go with the prevailing (or minority) political wind, will we be better off. What if Mrs. Hynes just called for a delay, more study, some “kick the can down the road” approach? Moving ahead with a decision in the face of criticism takes courage. I want leaders with courage and who make decisions.

    I am the last to say that Arlington (the County or the government) is perfect but it is better than most places. Let’s build on successful ideas. I read this entire thread and didn’t hear one idea that would make the streetcar better. I heard a lot of “throw it out” and things like, “The proposed Crystal City streetcar route is never more than a few hundred feet from a Metro station (particularly with the coming infill station).” REALLY? I have walked all of Crystal City and either you don’t know where or how many Metro Stations there are, the route of the streetcar, or how far a few hundred feet is.

  • replytothat

    Why doesn’t Arlington put this matter to a vote? It seems to be controversial enough of a matter. altho me thinks they don’t care what people think and will just do whatever. Bring on the debt, yay!

    • Becoming indifferent

      That’s great idea, which the County Board will never allow.

  • ArlingtonWay

    You cartainly have the right to support the trolley Someone who supports spending $250 million when there are drastically cheaper alternatives is not a “staunch” fiscal conservative, however. But keep telling yourself that.

    • Jim Oliver

      The fiscal conservative in me must ask where you get the $250M number? I personally do not define a fiscal conservative by their fear of spending large amounts of money, but the willingness to invest in long term projects with demonstrated value. Do your best at an apples to apples comparison and look at some reasonable life cycle costs and let me know what you think is the best option.

      replytothat – debt is not always a bad thing. I recognize it as an economically stimulative practice – build it and let the beneficiaries pay for it OR, save up for years and let the generation that didn’t pay for it enjoy it.

      Government by popular vote, interesting. Do you see any downsides to that approach?

  • ggriffin

    I think an important alternative is being left out of the discussion. That would be the use of trackless trolleys instead of streetcars. It would have a lower build cost because tracks wouldn’t have to be installed. It would reduce exhaust pollution to the same degree as streetcars. And it would provide increased flexibility in that a trackless trolley can go around a stalled vehicle where a streetcar cannot.

    I’ve lived in both Boston and San Francisco. My experience tells me that streetcars work best in a dedicated right of way. I do not believe that Columbia Pike, which isn’t wide enough for a center right of way, is the proper environment for this type of transit. Trackless trolleys, also available in articulated versions, are the best answer.

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