Arlington, VA

Critics of the Columbia Pike streetcar have been pushing the idea of articulated buses as a cheaper and more flexible alternative to streetcar service.

Specifically, some critics have been citing the streetcar-like bus in the video above — which is currently in use in Las Vegas — as a way to get the increased capacity of streetcars while making bus travel more attractive to non-riders. The bus offers prepaid, level platform boarding — which makes loading and unloading passengers quicker and easier — plus a quiet and smooth ride. Since it runs on tires rather than a track, it also has the ability to get around accidents or any other obstruction.

Articulated buses are an option being studied for the Columbia Pike corridor, but a streetcar does have advantages that supporters say a bus cannot match. A streetcar line, supporters say, can attract transit-oriented development and promote economic growth. Plus, rail transit seems to have a psychological advantage over bus transit — in general, more people would be willing to ride a streetcar than they would a bus.

The cost of articulated bus service on Columbia Pike is estimated at $53 million, compared to the estimated $250 million cost of a five-mile streetcar line.

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