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Anti-Streetcar Resolution Narrowly Defeated in County Transit Committee

by ARLnow.com June 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm 17,727 258 Comments

Arlington County’s own Transit Advisory Committee came close last night to passing a resolution supporting articulated bus service on Columbia Pike over the planned Columbia Pike streetcar project.

The resolution, proposed by committee member Joseph Warren, was ultimately defeated by a vote of 6-5, but not before a spirited debate among committee members. Citing a county-funded alternatives analysis, streetcar opponents on the committee made their case for why enhanced bus service — including higher-capacity articulated buses and a limited number of fixed stops along the Pike between Pentagon City and the Skyline section of Fairfax County — is a better option.

“Articulated bus [is] a practical and far more cost-effective alternative than the modified streetcar,” Warren said in his resolution, which his read aloud.

“Streetcar costs range from $249-261 million compared with $39-68 million for TSM 2 [articulated bus service]. The annual operating cost for the streetcar is $25.6 million compared to $22.1 million for the for the TSM 2 articulated bus,” Warren said. “Yet… [projected] streetcar ridership is only 4-6 percent greater than [articulated bus service].”

“Travel times of the modified streetcar and [articulated buses] are nearly identical and both operate in mixed traffic,” Warren continued. “However, since streetcars could not pass obstacles such as illegally parked cars and vehicles moving in and out of parking spaces, it is much more vulnerable to delays.”

Committee member John Antonelli, who lives along the Pike, echoed Warren’s concerns about the reliability of streetcar service.

“If we were talking about a Metro subway under Columbia Pike… my opinion on this issue would be very different than what it is today,” said Antonelli. “Instead we’re talking about a trolley on steel wheels… a system that can be brought down by ice, wind, snow… by one mis-parked car or road crew. The articulated bus won’t have all the strictures of steel wheels on steel rails. It can move around things. It can be had for a whole lot cheaper, with the same benefits.”

But committee member Franz Gimmler said helping people get from one place to another isn’t the only thing that should be considered when planning transit service. He said economic development and enhanced livability are two important benefits that will come with a Columbia Pike streetcar line, but not with enhanced bus service.

“There’s a growing recognition that transportation is not in and of itself the end,” Gimmler said. “The end is what transportation does to your community, what it provides in building a community.”

“Arlington County has been fortunate that an earlier generation of leaders had a vision for the county that led them to fight for Metrorail underneath Wilson Boulevard,” he continued. “As a result, the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor is a internationally-recognized example of the best of transit-oriented development. We are fortunate that our current leaders have learned from that transit project and have envisioned the same benefits for the Columbia Pike corridor.”

“The light rail alternative is the only alternative that will bring livability to the Pike and achieve the vision established for the corridor, and I am convinced that the outcome is worth the anticipated cost,” Gimmler said. “As a resident of north Arlington, I’m willing to pay the cost of the rail alternative. Even though I will not benefit directly, I know that everybody along the Pike paid for my livable community along the Orange Line, now it’s my time to pay for theirs along Columbia Pike.”

In response, streetcar opponents questioned whether the streetcar would truly bring practical economic benefits to those who live along the Pike, as the alternatives analysis suggests.

“Development is happening on Columbia Pike right now, before the trolley has even shown up,” said Antonelli. “Would a nice trolley help a developer sell ticky-tacky condos on Columbia Pike? Sure. But here’s the thing that’s going to increase livability on Columbia Pike… it’s efficient, reliable transit.”

Arlington County Transit Bureau Chief Stephen Del Giudice, who spoke at last night’s committee meeting, said that project consultants believe the the streetcar will, in fact, raise property values along the Pike.

“The consultants… hypothesize that there will be at least a five percent increase in property values along Columbia Pike,” he said. “In fact, the literature they cite suggests the range can be anywhere between zero and 30 [percent].”

Enhanced bus service, he said, would not provide the same benefit.

“Fixed rail does in fact contribute to property value increases and economic development,” Del Giudice said. “It’s an attraction.”

Some committee members questioned whether the streetcar would raise rents along the Pike, forcing out those who live in what is now market rate affordable housing. Del Giudice said affordability was a major topic of concern at two recent public meetings held to discuss the streetcar. He pointed out, however, that rents are already rising along Columbia Pike, while income is flat. The streetcar, he said, could help the situation by allowing reinvestment along the Pike.

“That additional value in property [from the streetcar] will generate more revenue for the county,” Del Giudice said. “And one of the things that is being recommended [for Columbia Pike] is tax reductions to promote housing and financing assistance. All of those things cost money, but conceivably, the county will have an opportunity to take some of the revenue that is generated by a streetcar investment and reinvest it in the community.”

  • replytothat

    Thanks for your efforts Joseph Warren

    • marie antoinette

      +1,000 and an AMEN.

    • southarlres

      Yes. Totally concur. Too bad everyone didn’t see his logic. *sigh* waste. of. money.

    • Bender

      Yes, but he has to know that the fix is in. The “progressives” who want to take us back to the 19th century will ram this down everyone’s throat no matter what.

      • drax

        Does that mean those who want sidewalks want to take us back to the Stone Age?

      • Arlwhat

        Protip – just swapping “progressive” in for “teabagging conservative” doesn’t automatically make your insult just as relevant and revealing as the original.

        • Bender

          I guess it is not obvious to those like you who use infantile obscenities (I thought there were comment standards here ARLnow?), but streetcars are a 19th century system, which is the opposite of progress.

          • Arlwhat

            You don’t have any say in it. The fix is in, after all.

          • drax

            No, Bender, that’s absurd.

            When someone finally invents a flying car, does that mean we will all have to abandon our antiquated non-flying cars?

            Should we tear up all the sidewalks because walking is a prehistoric form of transportation?

            Progress is when we have choices, and use what’s best for the situation, instead of depending on just one mode.

          • Josh S

            So you’re still waiting for your jet pack, huh?

            19th century system is the opposite of progress. That’s hilarious.

            We. are. 21st. century. men. Must. move. forward. to. the. future.

            Domo arigato.

          • drax

            Q. Are we not men?
            A. We are Devo.

          • bringmetheyuppies

            That was STYX.

          • dk

            Is this a joke I’m not getting? It was definitely DEVO.

          • drax

            He meant “Domo arigato” was STYX.

            Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto!


          • SoMuchForSubtlety

            technicaly subways are also a 19th century system, and for that matter roads, buildings, sewers, etc.

          • AlanB


            Guess we need to throw away our cars then too, after all the car was invented in the 19th Century.

            The only difference today is that the streetcar is more modern with more technology in it than our cars. So if using old technology is a problem, then the car must be the first to go since it is less modern than the streetcar.

          • dirty biker

            Yup- toss your car. Would make my commute soooo much better and save you thousands a year not including the health benefits. Actually sounds like a great idea, might even be the wave of the future.

            Lots of folks are doing just that- most young people in Arlington simply don’t need a car given available alternatives. Why spend that sort of cash to park/insure/fuel a car to drive once or twice a month when there are now THREE hyper local car sharing programs. (ZipCar, Car2Go, Hertz Local); endless bike alternatives (trails, CaBike); and a pretty good (if maligned) train/bus system.

            Thus, yeah- the car ownership thing is sooo 20th century

            (yes I own a car, and no it’s not that easy to go totally car-free unless you are a childless urban-dweller, in which case it is super easy)

      • Justin Russo

        You guys realize that subways are a 19th Century technology as well, right?

        • Sherriff Gonna Getcha

          Just as politicians that do stuff instead of just caring about getting re-elected are from the 19th century and sorely missing in all of American politics.

        • dk

          Democracy is so ancient greece.

          • drax


      • BoredHouseWife

        you mean to undo the damage GM did?

    • Warren is my hero

      +1000! Thank you Joseph Warren and John Antonelli. Articulated buses with essentially identical transit benefits (transit times/carrying capacity) that are 1/5 the cost and much less disruptive to install, cheaper to operate and maintain, more flexible, and could be up and running in a couple years? Sign me up!

      Development and higher property values will come even without a streetcar, to the detriment of affordable housing. We can consider Metro down the road, but give us articulated buses NOW and pass on the streetcar.

      • chipotle_addict

        Buses just aren’t cool. Streetcars? They are cool. Buses are not. Articulated buses are twice as uncool as regular buses.

        • bringmetheyuppies

          And why pour more money into an articulated bus system. Just eliminate non rush hour busses and add more for the rush hour. OH wait I know why… BECAUSE PEOPLE DONT WANT TO RIDE BUSSES! if the goal is to get those in their cars out of their cars, you need a street car. Noone is going to give up their car for an articulated bus. No need to buy a special kinda a freakin bus.

          • Transit

            The reason people do not want to ride the bus is because they stop too often. If you made buses limited stop, or gave them their own lane (as they do in seoul, south korea) they would be as effective as light rail, if not more effective. Subway or the bus are the best choices, light rail is a waste of money. Without it own corridor it will bogged down in traffic. Go ride the green line in boston to experience this. It moves very quickly when underground on its own corridor but when street level with traffic, it takes ages to move.

          • AlanB


            Light rail is never a waste of money. Despite that slow running that you mention, Boston’s T still spends less money moving people on light rail than it does by bus; 91 cents per passenger mile by light rail and $1.23 by bus. And the T actually does very poorly compared to other systems around the country.

            The National average is 70 cents per pax/mile for LRT and 90 for the bus.

            While the bus still has a vital role to play in any city’s transportation mix, if we’re going to base things on dollars, then it is the bus that is a waste of money.

  • esmith69

    Two committee memebers expressed concerns about what I consider to be a serious flaw in the streetcar system –the inability of the streetcars to change lanes to avoid obstacles in the road. There’s no mention of how the supporters claim to address that concern though.

    I think the streetcar would be a great idea, provided they can just address the issue of avoiding obstacles. I.e. is there any way to put the rails in both traffic lanes?

    • Bender

      Here is where the bicylists can actually be of service, by riding in front of street cars, in the middle of the right lane, at moderate speeds (e.g. 5-10 mph), bringing the system to a crawl.

      • cyclist

        We do that now though, in front of cars. Ha ha.

        • Arlingtonian

          You wont’ try it in front of streetcars. If you do, your bike’s wheels will drop into the spaces created by the rails. You will fall to the ground. The street car will run over you and your bike.

          • cyclist

            I’ve ridden on H St. where the rails are. It can be done. You just have to go over them at a good angle and watch yourself once you’re in between.

          • MayorOfWestover

            You’re awesome.

          • cyclist

            Pretty much.

    • Bender

      And then there is the whole issue of just exactly how are these things supposed to turn around at the ends of the line?

      • drax

        I’m sure nobody has thought of that! It’s not possible that they, like, designed loops, or will use reversible trains that can be driven from either end. You’ve exposed a fatal flaw!

      • Josh S

        Seriously. Are you 8?

        • Joan Fountain

          That usually is the mental age of most “conservatives”.

          • Quoth the Raven

            Right, because liberals are just by defintion more intelligent and more mature, as your comment so beautfully proves.

          • Joan Fountain

            It wasn’t me that started the thread off with a dig against “progressives” birdbrain.

          • Quoth the Raven

            Wow – now we’re going with personal insults. I was always told, “two wrongs don’t make a right”. Grow up.

          • Joan Fountain

            Lighten up. A raven by definition has a bird brain. I thought it was funny.

      • Ed

        I think Bender may be joking.

        • drax

          Let’s ask him.

          Were you joking, Bender?

          • Bender

            No I wasn’t joking, as I noted in my follow-up comment explaining that any turn-around will necessarily need to be in the middle of the street, thus causing even more traffic problems, but the comment for some reason was deleted by ARLnow (which kept the obscene comment by Arlwhat).

          • Bent

            Look at the pictures Einstein. There is no “front” or “back” they travel in either direction.

          • nom de guerre

            Does this mean they will also be traveling against the flow of traffic?

          • drax

            No, they can turn around at a “Y” where the two tracks join together at the end. It pulls in, the driver switches ends, and it pulls out taking the other track.

          • drax

            Really, Bender? You think they’ll need to turn around in a loop, like a car or bus? You’ve never ridden Metro and noticed how the cars can be driven in either direction?

            Look carefully at each end of this DC streetcar:


          • Bender

            Again, of course they can go forward and backward. Again, the obvious is not the point here.

            If they simply go backward, the streetcar will travel AGAINST the flow of traffic. Is that the plan? That is even more dangerous and a traffic obstruction than turning around in the middle of the street.

          • drax

            Again, Bender, they can go to a Y where the two track join, then go the other way on the other track. Easy.

          • Arlwhat

            Why you go into convulsive revisionist history histronics over your self-adopted appellation is…well it’s not beyond me so much as I just can’t bring myself to really care one way or the other.

            Now – with all the time you spent researching the issue, and all the time you spent studying surface light rail engineerng in other cities, you could only come up with a single, rather silly, solution to the problem of reversing the direction of travel? Really?

            They’ll do a barrel roll.

      • Prefontaine

        Yeah dude! I mean, what the hell brah! Open your eyes people!

        The thing is gonna go on one run and then just stop forever!

      • true

        it will have to run all the way to california where it will turn into a cable car

        • dirty biker

          EB it will just fall into the Potomac. In fact, we all missed that the cars were for one use only! Drat!

        • Josh S

          Actually, that’d solve the problem since they have turntables for reversing the cable cars.

          Still, I just can’t figure out how this is gonna work…..

          • AlanB


            One of two things. Either they have two tracks that go down to 1 track either at the last stop or just past the last stop. The operator changes ends, since there are controls at both ends, and then pulls forward and switches onto the track on the right which runs with the flow of traffic in that lane.

            Or, the last stop has two platforms and there is a set of switches just prior to it. The trains pull into either side, depending on which one is empty. Again the operator changes ends and pulls out in the other direction and if need be, takes the switch to get to the right side.

          • drax


            The two tracks join into one at the end (a Y, or “wye”). The train goes onto the single track from the left, then leaves on the opposite one. Simple.

          • Josh S

            Err, yeah. I got it.

            I still prefer the barrel roll or the loop de loop ideas.

          • drax

            Okay, just making sure.

    • jan

      the towing company would be thrilled to take care of “obstacles”.

    • Josh S

      I’ll just note that I wonder if anyone can put a realistic number on how many times the streetcar can be expected to be significantly delayed by these “obstacles” over the course of a week/month/year. And what would the standard be? In other words, if it happened in one out of a thousand trips, would that be too many?

      Sure, it’s a reasonable concern, but is it a significant one?

      • Patrick

        multiple times a day

      • Greg

        1 in 1,000? Have you driven in Arlington? It will be more often than 1 in 2 trips.

        • John Snyder

          I drive on the Pike every day. I can remember maybe three or four times a lane was blocked over the course of 15+ years. One was a bus spewing smoke. Most were gone (except the bus) in a matter of minutes.

      • John K.

        Define significant for this purpose. What blocks the way on the Pike where the tracks would be? Cops pulling over drivers, the county trash trucks that empty the cans along the Pike, delivery trucks that shouldn’t deliver from the Pike, but do, stopped taxis seem to be a favorite around the Drafthouse, La Habana does sometimes stop right in front of the 7-11 instead of off on Garfield. It happens often enough. When I’m on the bus (or, gasp! driving), maneuvering can occur. Not so much with the trolley.

        Catastrophe? No. But why spend $260m for that “livable feel” when it will introduce problems that can be avoided by selecting other cheaper methods of improving transportation. We’re developing just fine without this waste o’ cash.

        • Earth Mover

          I think most of the people fail to envision anything other than a shiny new street car on the existing backdrop of roads and businesses. You think the engineers who design this system won’t think of these problems like turning around and taxis being in the way? Most fail to grasp how completely a project like this will alter the conditions of the urban landscape.

        • Josh S

          The whole thing is terribly subject to the recent experience bias – I drive down the street a hundred times with no obstacles but because I can remember one yesterday, I vastly overestimate the number of times I face an obstacle. The same effect is glaringly obvious throughout this site, when people complain about Metro, rude drivers, bicyclists, etc.

          If the problem of streetcars getting stuck was such a big one, I can’t imagine why they would still get such widespread use around the world.

          • John K.

            In many places they have dedicated lanes.

            Gosh, I don’t know how you and certain other people put up with us short-sighted emotional dummies on this board. You shore is smart. Almost as smart as that four-letter poster.

          • Josh S

            Thanks, John, for pointing that in many places they have dedicated lanes. That’s helpful.

            In many places, they don’t have dedicated lanes. Yet they haven’t been abandoned because of them there gosh durn obstacles.

        • So you think big arse buses slaloming around unexpecting drivers in an urban village, walkable community is smarter.

          You, my sir or ma’m, may be a dumdum

          • John K.

            Nowhere do I suggest slaloming. Buses do have turn signals and other drivers, mirable visu, actually let them over (sometimes) when a bus indicates the need, by said signal, to move over. If that meets your definition of slaloming, well, so be it. As a DumDum is a delcious treat from my childhood, I accept your attempt at internet denigration. What we did with them as a child you may so do now.

        • John Snyder

          So you want a handful of lazy drivers who could pull around a corner a half block away to veto the project? Why not just not block the Pike?

    • Chris Slatt

      Many other cities have Streetcars that run in mixed traffic and it’s just not a frequent problem. It happens occasionally and you tow the obstacles out of the way or in the case of something really catastrophic, you run a bus bridge across it like Metro does when there is a problem on the tracks. If a streetcar breaks down, you have the one behind it push it along until you get to the maintenance facility at the end of the line.

    • bringmetheyuppies

      I ride the pike everyday. There are less break downs than on Metro. Talk about stuck! Being in a tunnel with no ability to move.. How did that thing EVER get built?!?

      • Josh S

        Seriously. And you have to unload the whole dang train because of one stuck door? Geez, scrap the whole thing – it’s quite obviously a failure…..

      • drax

        Being in a car on a packed interstate with no ability to move…

    • Transit

      Excellent point. Simply because it “appears cool” is no reason to pay for a costly light rail project.

      • AlanB

        They’re not doing it because its “cool”. Yes, I’ve no doubt that politicians will show up to have their pictures taken with the pretty new vehicles, without regard to them being bus or Streetcar.

        But again, they’re not doing it because its cool. They’re doing it because long term it costs less money!

  • South Walter Reed

    It’s worth mentioning that Joe Warren ran for County Board as a Republican in 2007 – and got annihilated.

    • maguire1166

      thus, a streetcar makes sense?

      • marie antoinette

        +2,000 but no Amen.

      • AH

        I think SWR’s point may have been that the signature issue that Joseph Warren was hitting during the campaign was opposition to the Columbia Pike Streetcar (in favor of Buses) and he was also opposed to the MTP recommendation for setting standard car lane sizes of 11 feet (in order to make more room for bike lanes and/or sidewalks). He lost big.


    • esmith69

      I don’t care what his political affiliation is. He brings up valid concerns, especially about the inability of a streetcar to avoid obstacles in the road. So far I’ve not heard any official response on how they plan on addressing that.

      • thelevyisdry

        Their response is “economic development,” duh. Or were you hoping for a non non sequitur ? (… a sequitur)

        Nice to see that Warren read the same alternatives analysis that I did. From the way people talk/post, I sometimes think there is another version floating around out there.

    • Becoming indifferent

      Why is that worth mentioning? A good point is a good point. If that came from a Democrat, would that make it all right with you?

      We have one-party rule in this county, and that’s we get stupid things like streetcars shoved down our throats.

      • Tommy

        With all of the residential options one has in this metro area, why would you choose to rent or buy in a community where you KNEW in advance that the values and preferences of most people are different from yours, if this matters so much? Why not choose to live in either a Republican or a toss-up suburb?

        • John Fontain

          Yeah ‘becoming different’, you knew before you moved here (even if that was 10, 20, or 30 years ago) that the county board would be pushing for streetcars in 2012. You really should have taken that into consideration before moving to arlington (10, 20, or 30 years ago).


        • Becoming indifferent

          Because I also WORK in Arlington and think it’s a good idea to live near where you work, so you don’t have a long commute that’s expensive and bad for the environment (I walk to work).

          If worked in Loudoun County, I’d have moved there a long time ago.

      • Josh S

        You don’t have to ride it.

        • Patrick

          But his taxes will still be raised to pay for it.

          • bringmetheyuppies

            I have lived in the area 25 years. I have taken Metro 6 times and every year some of my tax money goes to pay for it. So what is your point? The fact is noone north of 50 wants to pay for this thing because it is of little use to them. And many folks south of 50 like their lives the way they are, think the pike will progress without the street car, or are afraid of higher taxes. The pike will not progress without this. There are maybe 3-4 more projects in the works. Everyone else will sit out and wait. Wait to see if it comes. Wait to see if anyone goes to the new places. Wait to see if the cops close down the hookers at days inn. Wait to see if a new project will make them money. We have been waiting 20 years. It’s time to act.

          • drax

            My taxes paid for an interstate in Montana. I’ve never even been to Montana. Scandal!

            Did it occur to you, Patrick, that the taxes of people who will use the streetcar will be used to pay for your service, like repaving the streets you use?

            And that people who benefit you, like your dentist or the guy that stocks the shelves at the grocery store or your employees will use it?

      • Joan Fountain

        Vote with your feet.

        • drax

          That’s so 19th Century.

          Vote with your luxury SUV.

    • Mary-Austin

      Then I guess it is worth noting that Mark Kelly ran as a Republican in 2012 and did very well in the precincts along Columbia Pike largely because of this issue.

      • Josh S

        Did he win any of them?

        • FrenchyB

          Yes, Kelly won two precincts along Columbia Pike.

          Garvey won nine.

          • SpanishC

            Not very good.

        • Mary-Austin

          Yes he won two precincts and came close two winning several others that are right on the pike.
          Much better than any Republican has done in recent memory, so that is pretty good.
          Barcroft, Jefferson, Fillmore are the kind of places that border a wide stretch of the Pike and will bear the brunt of the increased cut through traffic from this thing. The precincts that have a tiny bit of frontage on the Pike didn’t seem to be affected as much.

          • drax

            Still, he lost.

          • Josh S

            i.e., a majority of voters chose someone else.

  • southarlington

    I think the TSM2 makes more sense then the street car ….especially if it is a mode to quickly move people from one spot to another. Do they really think the street car is going to a tourist attraction and that Fairfax residents are going to use it to go to attractions on the Pike ? Come one !!!!! I think the better direction of the trolley would have been George Mason …..Still Arlington may not get the money for this project and they will have to do the buses…

  • MC

    The goal of the solution is not to get people from Skyline to the Pentagon, which a bus can do. The goal is to encourage people to travel between points along Columbia Pike. Unlike a bus, a trolley encourages people to people to jump off at different points on their journey. It will encourage more street life, unlike rapid bus systems which are just about moving masses of people.

    • ChrisS

      That is not the case. Why does the streetcar plan propose cutting 16 bus service if it is not intended to go to Metro.

      • Josh S

        Well obviously there is more than one goal.
        If I understand correctly, there is only one 16 line that would be cut.

  • Skeptical

    So because the Metro made the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor what it is — incidentally, from my point of view, an unappealing cluster f*&k where even the places I used to enjoy going are no longer fun because of the density — a streetcar is the logical choice for Columbia Pike? How does that hang together at all?

    And what exactly is the solution to the traffic backup caused by a streetcar breakdown? We’re all waiting with bated breath.

    This is an ignis fatuus on the part of developers who see a buck to be made and supporters who have fallen in love with a pretty little diorama of the Pike with a toy train running down it surrounded by beaming people. If we had kept DC’s streetcar system back in the 50s and eventually run it out as far as the suburbs mushroomed, that might have worked. Instead we’re proposing to wedge a truncated trolley into a roadbed that has no room for it. What are these people smoking?

    • Josh S

      Here’s the deal though – you’re in the minority. Witness – where did the housing crisis hit worse in the DC metro area – the outer suburbs. How many housing units continue to get added (and rented/sold) in the R-B corridor?

      People like the vibrancy and convenience that comes with mixed-use, walkable communities.

      Transit options are part of the whole thing.

    • drax

      Just someone whining about density in an urban area. Move along.

    • Transit

      Well said.

  • The streetcar will continue the progress currently being seen on the Pike.

    I am grateful that the County recognizes that there are citizens that pay the coffer ‘down’ here -and, there’s a lot of us.

    We deserve better transit options and we are finally getting them, and the shops and venues that come along with it.

    What seems to be the prob is that some merchants and commerial property owners worry that all disposable income we have won’t land in their pockets.

    • Addtition:

      What seems to be the prob is that some NORTH ARLINGTON merchants and commerial property owners worry that all disposable income we have won’t land in their pockets.

      • AL

        And it’s all a bunch of BS. Like the quote in the article says, North Arlingtonians have gotten their way for decades, partially on the backs of Columbia Pike residents. Now we want one comparatively small beautification project to spur development and revitalization along the corridor, and you try to shoot it down by throwing articulated buses at us? As if making the buses longer is going to spur any development? Are you mad?!

        It’s selfish.

    • SoArl

      YES! As a property owner down here, I welcome the streetcar and the development it will bring.


    Would be nice is they explained how a bus route (the 16Y) which begins just a mile from my stop can consistenly be late if it is so capable of avoiding obstacles in the road.

    The problem with my bus is that its coming from another route and if the bus is delayed because of traffic (a moving obstacle) on the previus route; then it will be delayed getting to me.

    Neither the street car or articulated buses can avoid this so this particular argument kinda irks me.

    • Greg

      A bus can change lanes or steer left or right. Take your car one day and drive in the exact same spot on Wilson, Clarendon, or in Alexandria. When cars are parked over the white line, stop and stay until it is moved. Could be 5 minutes. Could be 5 days. Or how about a delivery truck? Or a police car who has pulled someone over. Or a car with their flashers on. Or a bicyclist moving at 6 mph.

      It will be a disaster. An articulated tank is a much better idea.

      • NPGMBR

        You missed the point of my post. I was speaking about the fact that an articulated bus will still be affected by the same problems that affect traditional buses.

        Police Officers typically tell drivers to pull off of busy roadways when stopping a driver. There are few business on the Pike that accept delivery trucks on the Pike. The one exception I know of are the Papa John’s and Boston Market stores at the Pike and S Glebe. I’m sure the County will inform businesses that their delivery trucks can’t obstruct traffic.

        My car once broke down on the Pike and an ACPD officer that was passing by stopped traffic and help get my car off the road as I waited for a AAA.

        No, a street car cannot avoid these problems but these issues can be quickly resolved to keep traffic flowing.

  • I bet

    I bet if they came up with a bus system that served coffee and cupcakes it would do better than the ugly street car with gaudy power lines running all the way down the route to power the street car.
    I’m glad this is going up on Columbia Pike and not North Arlington. Go ahead and make the flourishing Columbia Pike area look ugly with these cars, I don’t care.

  • Elmer

    With this close a vote by the county board’s own Transit Advisory Committee, it is obvious why the board will not allow even a portion of its quarter-billon dollar trolly folly to go to a public referendum for financing.

  • John Snyder

    Due to the FTA regulations for the alternatives analysis, it badly underestimates the preference people have for streetcars over buses. The preference for rail transit cannot be stated at more than 5%, so this document limits the preference to 5%, not the much higher difference in actual experience. That translates to thousands of more rides per day (and thus less cars) than articulated buses. It also does not include the development increases being considered as part of the Pike Neighborhoods Plan–thousands more people who need a choice of high quality transit.

    • Greg

      +1 I would much prefer to ride a streetcar.

      • Greg

        Why? Because poor people ride the bus? Guess what, pal. They’ll ride the street car too.

        • drax

          Talk about putting words in his mouth. You even use his name. Pathetic.

    • dirty biker

      I’m pro streetcar based on the development aspects and have always been surprised a the low (5%) number. Regardless I’m curious about your source for that 5% cap- can you link to the pertinent FTA reg? That might shut some folks up…

      Buses suck, streetcars are cool- it’s really that basic from a development / adoption perspective.

      And this b/s about lane blockages… somehow those crazy fools in San Fran, Portand and a dozen other cities with narrow streets pull it off. I’m not that worried about it here.

  • BythePike

    Stalled cars… meh. Nothing the fine people at Dominion Towing Or Harry’s or A1 can’t take of. If they can tow a car from Walgreens parking lot on Wilson within 1 minute of step-off, they can take care of the Pike. Do you people realise that during rush hour, the #16 bus rolls through pike in like 2 min intervals. It’s comical sometimes cause you can see them lined up one after the other.

    • Arlingtonian


    • YTK

      ” It’s comical sometimes cause you can see them lined up one after the other.” Gee, you must be standing near the WMATA bus garage to be able to see that.
      What’s tragic is when the buses come by 2 in a row on Sundays– and then for the next 15 or 20 minutes- NOOOTHIIING.

      • NPGMBR


  • G Clifford Prout (now moderated for extra purity)

    John better watch out when he’s crossing the Pike. ding ding ARE THERE ANY QUESTIONS?

    • Bryce

      That’s a clown question, bro.

      • dk

        Dammit, beat me to it!

  • Jim Webster

    Nattering nabobs of negativism.

    • Josh S


  • Michael

    I can’t be the only person to notice that street cars are buses that can’t change their route without spending $100 million.

    • Hokie

      No, you’re not. I’m amazed that Arlington County is preparing to spend so much money. I don’t know exactly what the alternative is- I’m not wasting my time looking into something that I know the county is not going to consider. But what I do know- is that Denver- where I spent about 2 months last year- has a series of busses that act as trolley- stopping every 100-200 yards (granted Denver is on a grid and they stopped at each corner)- but that worked fine. People could get on and go where they needed on their 1.4 mile stretch of road.

      • AlanB

        And yet Denver is racing to build more light rail lines. They’ve even called the program, FastTracks.

        So why are they doing that, because long term it costs less. The analysis presented to the committee is flawed as it only looks at the present day numbers. It doesn’t consider things like the fact that a bus lasts 10 to 12 years before needing replacement, while a railcar lasts 30 to 40 years. That means buying a lot of buses over the years.

        And something is also wrong on the reports operating expenses, Out in Denver in 2010, according to a report from the National Transit Database, it costs 73 cents per passenger mile to move people by bus. It costs 51 cents per passenger mile to move people by train.

      • Not your bro

        Those buses in Denver are in a dedicated lane. Cars can’t use it, the buses are in the median.

        A dedicated lane would be nice on the Pike, but there are plenty of places in San Francisco, for example, where the streetcars share a lane with cars, and it works fine – no different than buses sharing a lone with cars. As for this nonsense about obstructions, they are very rare and easily cleared.

        In fact, reading the comments from those who fear phantom “obstructions” make me wonder if Arlingtonians are less well-educated than I had thought . . .

  • Han

    Illegally parked car, meet giant, streetcar-mounted laser. BRRZZAPP!!!

  • soarlslacker

    Since there will be an election in November of this year, why not put this Streetcar issue on the ballot. Allow residents of Arl Cty to decide. It is their (our) money being spent.

    • Prefontaine

      Because they don’t want to risk losing. They would never risk their pet project being lost.

      You can bet that a few of the big backers of this thing will be getting big donations from the streetcar developers when they run for higher office.

    • drax

      So should everything the board does go to the voters? Why do we elect a board in the first place?

      • Prefontaine

        No, of course not. But something this big should certainly go to the voters, considering the amount of opposition to it.

        • Mary-Austin

          Thank You!

        • AlanB


          We spend Billions each year on highways and I don’t remember voting on that. This streetcar spending pales in comparison to what we spend on highways.

        • drax

          We have elections.

      • southarlington

        Yes it should go to the voters espically when they only listen to a select few……

  • Charles


    Street cars on Columbia Pike will do zero to reduce car usage and will increase congestion simply by getting in the way of traffic flow.

    Street cars serve people who are already not driving, they will not cause anyone to drive less. Street cars will also not run in the black, but will require tax dollars to run. Your tax dollars. The only ones to profit will be the construction companies who install the street cars.

    • John K.

      But, it’s going to make the Pike livable, desirable, walkable, bicyclist-friendly and possibly be LEED-certified. It will also lead to increased popularity of backyard hens, woody taverns, “luxury apartment homes”, and yoga studios. “Mexican” food will no longer be sold by Salvadorans and Bolivians, but by dudes from Jersey and Minnesota. Definitely not a fail.

      • nom de guerre

        You omitted VIBRANT, the 75 new jobs, the PROPER SLICE, sprayparks, granite countertops, hardwood floors, bollards and increased instances of public masturbation. I may have missed something too.

        • John K.

          See, this is Arlington working together. I thank you!

          • Mike Hunt

            You both missed dog parks. I don’t know if my dog is allowed on the trolley line – how in the world will I ever get my purse dog up and down the Pike? Maybe as a compromise they can paint a dog mural on the side of one of the streetcars.

          • John K.

            Perhaps. But we’ll have to be clear on whether it is art or could be construed as an indirect advertisement for the Arlington Animal Hospital.

          • nom de guerre

            If it is constued as art it could be an advertisement for the Shartisphere.

        • Tabs

          What’s the special today?

          • nom de guerre

            I’m glad you asked. Today’s daily special at Sam’s corner features Thai style grilled chicken satay topped with a carrot, cucumber and daikon radish slaw marinated in a rice vinegar and fish sauce vinaigrette on ciabatta bread with a spicy Siracha peanut sauce. Just a reminder that our Clarendon locations will be closing on June 30. We may or may not reopen a location on the Pike in the near future.

          • JB

            Is it true that you’ll be sauteeing the sun-cured snake plants that were in your window for long as part of the special on the last day?

          • nom de guerre

            Yes it is true. But we like to refer to Sansevieria trifasciata as a mother-in-law tongue because of the sharpness of the leaves and we may employ the technique of sous vide to produce a more tender product.

          • JB

            That’s excellent – I love locally sourced hand-raised produce.

          • WeiQiang

            … but not if it raised ‘by hand’ at 7-11.

          • Justin Russo

            Careful, they will arrest you for raising “it” by hand in Clarendon. Until they install the funhouse mirrors, that is.

  • Hank

    This might be seen as a ridiculous thought, but I’d consider moving from Courthouse/Rosslyn to Columbia Pike if the street car line were built. Please feel free to swing away.

    • notice how it’s quiet? it’s ‘cuz they are thinking the same (before the rents BLOW UP)

  • John Fontain

    I would support the use of streetcars if the cost weren’t so high compared to buses. I don’t think the switching lanes issue is likely to be that big of a deal and I do think it would be ‘cool’ to have street cars. My main issue is the cost. It’s already projected to be many multiples of the bus solution and we all know how large capital project tend to go; the cost usually ends up significantly higher than even the highest of estimates.

    Does anyone know how much it would cost to put construct an underground train line?

    • Suburban Not Urban

      Yea – where’s the discussion of operational efficiency – having 3 modes metro, bus and streetcar has got to be less efficient to operate than having 2.

      • true

        let’s abandon all except buses: planes, boats, cars, trains subways let”s focus on just one please!!

      • Having fun yet?

        That’s beside the point. This isn’t about transit, it’s about new condos.

      • drax

        No, it’s more efficient.

        Each person uses the mode that offers the maximum efficiency for his/her travel.

    • drax

      Upfront costs may be higher, but operating costs are probably lower than a street car. Pays for itself.

    • AlanB


      It would be far more costly to construct underground. Up in NYC the 1.5 mile extension of the #7 with just 1 additional station is estimated to cost $2 Billion. Far more than this streetcar will cost and a much shorter distance.

      As for the costs of the streetcars, as I noted above in another post, the study has some flaws in it. For example, they didn’t consider that they will have to buy many more of those articulated buses than they have to buy streetcars. The streetcar’s capacity is still greater than the bus. And the buses will only last 10 to 12 years on average, while the streetcars will go 30 to 40 years.

      I also take issue with their estimated operating costs, as generally it is cheaper to operate a rail system than a bus system. According to the National Transit Database in 2010, on average in this country it costs 70 cents per passenger mile to move people by light rail/streetcar. It costs 90 cents per passenger mile to move them by bus.

      Out in Portland, OR, they move almost as many passenger miles by bus as they do by light rail/streetcar, 231,580,852 vs. 208,779,167 respectively. Yet they spent $239,080,000 operating buses and only $106,374,746 operating light rail/streetcars.

      • John Fontain

        Portland’s system I’ve seen and ridden. It was nice.

  • Barry

    Arlington Transportation Director Dennis Leach disparaged the articulated bus system because of pre-paid boarding considerations. He undoubtedly knows that the next generation of prepaid SmarTrip cards (in the works, according to WMATA) is going to make boarding and exiting transit vehicles a whole lot easier and faster.

    How many of Mr. Leach’s pro-streetcar comments swayed the Commission? County Transportation Staff have been uniformly negative regarding articulated buses on the Pike.

    Can we have an unbiased analysis of the various transit options on the Pike?

    • Joan Fountain

      County Transportation Staff have been uniformly negative regarding articulated buses on the Pike.

      Because they are the inferior choice.

  • Taxpayer

    Missed the meeting. But I’m willing to cede a Streetcar if it means that there is no longer a need to ram down thousands of units of affordable housing on the Pike and allow it to gentrify.

    • drax

      Affordable units prevent gentrification.

      • Interesting

        Oh yeah, and they get to live somewhere where all they can afford to eat out is at McDonalds; thereby perpetuating the low-income fast food cycle MSNBC tells me about all the time.

        • true

          except you only watch Fox news

          • Interesting

            I don’t get Fox. My county-sponsored free cable TV only shows MSNBC and PBS.

          • Jane-Dallas

            Fair and balanced, I’d say.

          • Josh S

            Fox broadcasts over the air, as well. Use an antenna.

  • NGlebe

    I can’t see why obstacles are a big deal. The problem seems to have been solved long ago. According to wiki:

    “In railroading, the pilot is the device mounted at the front of a locomotive to deflect obstacles from the track that might otherwise derail the train. In some countries it is also called cowcatcher or cattle catcher… Trams use in place of the pilot a device called a fender. Objects lying on the tram track get hit by a sensor bracket, which triggers the lowering of a basket shaped device to the ground preventing overrunning of the obstacles by dragging it along the road surface in front of the wheels.”

    Just getting a chance to see these things in action, whether called a “pilot” “cowcatcher” or “fender” would make the Pike cool.

    • Interesting

      Or to see them fail. Kinda like people only watching NASCAR for the crashes.

  • Joe

    Go with buses. If you have streetcars, you need police to enforce traffic regulations so that the streetcars can keep moving on the tracks. Arlington Police are too lazy to do that–buses can work around that laziness.

  • WantonTaco

    If they add to the bus stops a solar powered electronic board telling you when the next freaking bus is coming, it would give people the needed comfort of “reliable”.

    not sure if the street car would do that but that’s what pisses me off about using buses. The one time I attempted to use the bus this weekend was an epic fail even with smartphone apps. I never know when it’s coming, the time tables are inaccurate and trying to understand the system requires you to take a college course.

    • Karl Rove

      Hey, that’s WMATA for you.

      • true

        we should all ride in sedan chairs hoisted by the homeless

        • Interesting

          …on roads paved with school vouchers and worthless US treasuries!

          • drax

            Send me your U.S. treasuries if you think they’re worthless. I’ll dispose of them for you.

    • drax

      So, much like trying to get somewhere by car.

      • Picantito

        Exactly papi.. same shnitzel. i say both are a bustt unless it has dedicated lanes and right of way at lights.

  • Julie

    Entire process has been biased in favor of streetcars by county government. Whether telling minority groups who heavily use Pike buses they would be arrested if they attended public meetings or falsely stating that articulated buses would have boarding problems (while promoting advanced SmarTrip boarding cards for Metrobuses to eliminate boarding delays). I’m writing comments all right, and sending them to the U.S. DOT Inspector General. When does my neighborhood get ART bus service? NEVER, because all the money is going to go to build and maintain their stupid streetcars. Can you spell C-O-R-R-U-P-T ?

    • SoArl

      “Whether telling minority groups who heavily use Pike buses they would be arrested if they attended public meetings…”

      Um, what?

      • Jane-Dallas

        Can you spell S-T-U-P-I-D.

      • drax

        Yeah, what?

        • Aby

          Ask the Post and local blog reporters who attended the June 6th and June 7th meetings how and why the meetings were completely controlled by non-residents and by residents who don’t use public transit, much less Pike public transit.

          • SoArl

            That’s a far cry from saying people were threatened with arrest if they attended.

          • drax

            So was anyone threatened with arrest for attending the meeting?

    • dk

      Yikes. You wanna source that accusation?

    • drax

      That’s M-O-S-T C-O-R-R-U-P-T. Are you new here?

    • I’m so glad that you will send such unsubstantiated, crazy rumors to the DOT IG -they will file your comments in the ‘special’ bin and log your name in a file that will forever tie you to a can of peanuts.

      Your efforts will, in many ways, be quite ironic b/c you’d wind up supporting the streetcar, which you should.

  • JohnB

    Kind of annoyed that the Transit Advisory Committee doesn’t publish a meeting agenda or meeting location in advance as I would have loved to go and speak in favor of the street car for the following reasons:

    1 – The fixed infrastructure investment of rails in the ground will attract private capital to the corridor. Without that private capital, the transformation of the corridor into a medium density urban, walk-able environment with thriving shopping, business, and nightlife will be significantly delayed at best, and might not ever happen due to the huge risks faced by early entrants into the market. If you’re opposed to this transformation you should oppose the street car, but if you’re in favor of it, do not doubt that the street car will be the catalyst for the transformation. The development that has happened in recent years is in anticipation of the street car and represented the low hanging fruit.

    2 – As stated in a previous comment, the mode preference for street cars over bus is observed to be significantly higher in reality that the FTA’s AA/EA model allows. The street car will capture a higher percentage of the total trips along the corridor than a bus ever will simply because there are people who will never ride a bus who will ride a street car. The increased trip share of the street car will offset the increased in total trips from the increased population far more effectively than higher capacity buses.

    3 – The private capital that is attracted by the street car will raise the value of the commercial property along the pike significantly and the increased tax revenue will pay for the cost of the street car. The increased capital and O&M costs of TSM-2 will not result in any increase in tax revenue. This leads me to believe that TSM-2 is actually more expensive to the residential property owners than the street car option.

    4 – The AA/EA did not include an estimate for the life-cycle cost of each alternative. Buses are not a durable as streetcar vehicles and require a tear down rehab much more frequently. Articulated buses are even less durable. Part of the capital cost of the street car is to re-build the road surface using concrete along the curb lane. This concrete is much more durable than asphalt and will have to be replaced less often. With TSM-2, the increased weight of the articulated buses will result in a reduced life span for the existing asphalt road. These factors lead me to believe that the capital and O&M costs for TSM-2 have been underestimated.

    • John K.

      Your comments would probably still be welcomed by the Pike Transit initiative people at http://www.piketransit.com/newCommentForm.php

    • Don

      Ask the folks who run the Las Vegas Transit system (RTC) about wear and tear on city streets after years of articulated and double deck bus operation. Not a problem.

      Ask RTC about how durable articulated buses are. Also not a problem.

      Streetcars are an option being pushed by the developers, for the developers, not for safely and efficiently transporting passengers on the Pike.

      • AlanB


        According to the National Transit Database, the average age of an RTC bus is 4.8 years. Nation wide the average age of a bus is 7.3 years old. Doesn’t sound like those buses are too durable to me. Either that or Vegas basically replaced every bus at the same time.

        And buses always place greater demands on roads & highways. No way around it. It’s a weight thing. Yes, trucks are the biggest reason for damaged roads; but buses come in second and articulated buses being heavier cause more damage than regular buses. Vegas also has no thaw/freeze cycles and they don’t throw rock salt on the roads, both of which contribute to road deterioration.

        It’s also worth noting that public transit agencies don’t pay fuel taxes, which means that they contribute nothing towards fixing that damage.

        Finally, while I’ve no doubt that developers are supporting this and maybe even pushing for it, that doesn’t change the fact that there are still many good reasons for streetcars over any kind of bus.

        • Don

          Las Vegas RTC has a new fleet of articulated and double deck buses. Las Vegas riders love them.

          Vegas articulated buses are NOT like the 20 year old DC articulated Metrobuses.

          The weather has significant effects on streetcar infrastucture. Stereetcar infrastructure has to be constatly mauintained no matter what the weather.

          Seen any significant deterioration in the Pike beyond that caused by the County Board deferring street repaving? Me neither after years of the Pike Ride operating on the Pike.

          Stop the charade, scrap the streetcar system…of the developers, by the developers, for the developers.

          • AlanB


            Let’s see how much they love them. Up in Portland, OR their system called TriMet services a population of 1,512,490 as of 2010. In Vegas, the RTC services 1,986,146, or about 400,000 more people.

            RTC saw a total ridership of 56,382,288 in 2010, with a total of 187,753,019 passenger miles. Up in Portland, with the smaller population, TriMet saw a bus ridership of 60,508,249 and carried 231,580,852. So TriMet carried more people further than RTC, despite having a smaller population and a light rail & streetcar alternative.

            Now lets go look at some other numbers for TriMet. Their light rail system carried 208,779,167 passenger miles, just 22.8 million fewer passenger miles than the buses. Yet TriMet spent $239,080,000 running those buses and $106,374,746 running light rail. They spent $132.7 Million more running buses, yet barely moved people any further than light rail.

            Additionally, the bus riders only covered 22.78% of their costs, while light rail riders covered 34.7% of their costs via the fare box.

            Now I get that you hate developers; for whatever reasons you have. But do you hate them enough to actually want the higher taxes that come with buses?

            All data from the National Transit Database reports for 2010.

          • Don

            Vegas double deck and articulated buses are brand new, and already a hit with tourists, Vegas residents, everyone. Do a Web search.

            I’m tired of hearing the same old arguments from 2100 Clarendon Blvd about what we have to do because that’s what the developers want.

          • Josh S

            ^^^ In other words, he plugged up his ears and went “lalalalalalala” while you reported those statistics. A true believer. *shudder*

          • AlanB


            So we’re going to ignore the elephant in the room? You really hate developers that much that you’re willing to vote for higher taxes to get articulated buses than to go with the cheaper streetcars?

            I guess you’ll also have to start opposing new highways, expansion of same, as well as new streets too. After all, developers are going to profit from them too. Ever notice how when you get off a highway that the exits are filled with gas stations, hotels, restaurants, etc? Developers built that stuff too. Put in a new street and you can bet that there is a developer there building new houses or new apartments or a mall, etc.

            It really doesn’t matter what we do, developers will be there and they will make a profit. If you want to oppose the streetcars for some reason, at least find a reason that makes sense please. But developers isn’t a valid reason. They’ll still make money whether its a bus or a streetcar. Yes, they might make a bit more money with a streetcar, but they will make money no matter what.

            So isn’t it better to at least save taxpayers some expense?

            Finally, I did a Google search. I tried “las vegas articulated buses” & “new las vegas double decker buses” & “new las vegas buses” & “las vegas buses” and I got lots of links to buying buses, links to private tourist buses, but I didn’t see anything about how much people liked RTC buses.

            So maybe you can provide a link to all these wonderful stories about people who love buses. Or at least suggest a string to search for that will bring me to these stories you claim exist.

    • Sir, I like you.


      • He who is without Sin

        Get a room you two.

    • Transit

      Why is private capital going to be attracted to a streetcar as opposed to a more efficient bus system? You can make that argument with a subway–which has the potential to drastically increase the number of potential residents and business customers but how does a streetcar system draw capital?

      • AlanB

        Well your first mistake is in believing that buses are more efficient. They aren’t. They move less people per vehicle, they cost more per mile to operate, and there are some who for whatever reasons simply won’t ride a bus, but will ride a train.

        Then there is the issue that property values, all other things being equal, are always higher within a 5 block radius of a train station. Doesn’t matter if that train station is a commuter rail stop, subway stop, light rail stop, or a Streetcar stop.

  • cindy

    All everyone in County Government wants to do is promote streetcars. Most of them don’t live in Arlington. Put a streetcar system in Annandale, Fairfax, Dranesville, Clifton, where they live.

    • Joan Fountain


      • cindy

        Source? Ask our non-resident County Manager, non-resident Economic Development Director, non-resident Planning Director…..

        • drax

          So YOU asked them all, Cindy?

    • drax

      Prove that please.

  • chris

    Bardo Rodeo
    All the best arguments on ArlNow include Streetcars, Advance Towing and Bardo Rodeo…..

  • JB

    I’d be all for the buses as long as they were solar powered, with tires made from organically grown rubber trees, soy-based paint, seats made from reclaimed Virginia barn wood, and hand-blown recycled glass windows.

    • nom de guerre

      I agree with your idea. A bus like this would blend in with the eclectic, historic architecture that currently lines the Pike.

    • JB

      I don’t want to take things too far, but I might also recommend that each bus be painted by a different Arlington kindergarten class as a public art project, and they could feature hand-hammered license plates made by artisans in the county jail.

  • SoMuchForSubtlety

    Why do so mnay people here act as if streetcars are an unknow that haven’t been in use since the19th century? They operate quite well in other cities around the US and Europe right now. And unlike the originals, they are notpulled by horses. I recently spent quite a bit of time on several streetcars in Lisbon, and I did not experice even one of the “horrors” continuosly expressed here (BTW, where isa the Trader Joe’s gridlock doom so many forecasted” Not seeing that either). Quite to the contrary the streetcars made getting around Lisbon very easy. And for shorter distances its actually more convenient than metro, where you have to factor in the time it takes get underground to the platform and and then back out of the ground to the street. Metro is great for longer distance commutes, but popping on and off a streetcar provides a different level of ease and user friendliness.

    • esmith69

      How do the streetcars in Lisbon deal with traffic obstacles (i.e. illegally parked vehicles, road repair, etc.)?

      Not trying to sound like a jerk, I’m curious how these systems actually run in the real world.

      • Jim Webster

        In Portland, Ore., they work beautifully. My grandson takes them regularly.

      • Josh S

        The point, esmith69, is that those traffic obstacles are far rarer than you may think. They don’t happen with anything close to a frequency that would be relevant to making a decision about whether to build the dang thing in the first place.
        I think someone else on this thread has already mentioned several responses, including a bus bridge in the worst case scenario.

    • because mostly folks in NA have time to squat on a computer and fear that their neck of the woods will be completely devoid of diversity, flavor and people once the ‘party shifts back to the Pike.’

      Sorry but true.

      I say give all the people who truly deal with the Pike in its current form a computer and Internet connection and ask them to blog about their feelings on a streetcar (and the chance for them to move up the world by getting more value in the homes, lives , etc.) and I’d guess that the ‘balanced’ perspective here would be much more different.

      And, since we’re on the subject of ‘balanced’ or in this case NOT, wasn’t there a time when Antonelli was certified as a jar of Jiffy? I’ve been here since ’97 and that has been my take-away.

      If opposition is counting on him as a vocal leader, you should shift your time and energy away from ‘against’ and toward ‘investing in tow trucks.’

      Ya’, I said it.

  • Alex

    These arguments flying back and forth completely miss the real issue. And that is fast, reliable public transportation service. Whether it’s a streetcar or articulated bus is beside the point. A truly, REAL contribution to mass public transit, is to have 1) a dedicated lane in the center of the road – whether streetcar or bus, I don’t give a sh-t, and 2) a stoplight system integrated with a transponder system on the bus or streetcar so that they always get the green light. Heck, I don’t even need the dedicated middle lane. I have seen streetcars in Europe and Asia that get the right of way, and it makes a huge psychological difference to know you won’t be stuck at lights, just like any other car or bus. And it’s more time reliable.

    • Party of Tea

      Europe and Asia? What are you, a Communist?

    • Party of Tea

      Europe & Asia? What are you, a Communist?

  • [ Warren continued. “However, since streetcars could not pass obstacles such as illegally parked cars and vehicles moving in and out of parking spaces, it is much more vulnerable to delays.” ]

    Let’s be real… there are some places in Arlington that if you park illegaly, you will get towed before you feet hit the street while getting out of your car.

    If opponents were smart, they be figuring out ways to by tow trucks and get in on the business of towing cars that park illegaly near the streetcar line. The folks running those services are about to get “P A I D.”

    Like I said, let’s be for real… opponents to the streetcar have no solid arguments. When the orange line was being built in the R-B cooridor, there was opposition, but no any more.

    I thank Arlington leaders for remembering that there are taxpayers, sisters, Dads and many other human beings that live in this County and would rather not feel 2nd class because our surroundings aren’t thriving.

  • And, yeah, sorry for all the typos…

    This whole issue, and the fact that there is even opposition to smart growth and progress in Arlington is just really disappointing.

    I wind up wanting to get my thought out, rather than re-read it with a spellchecker (which Arlnow could easily add that feature to the comments section at thispoint, cheap).


  • Aby

    Reality is that Arlington transportation staff is misleading everyone about articulated buses. Boarding and exiting articulated buses is not going to be a problem. Next generation of electronic SmarTrip cards – which WMATA is working to implement – will make boarding and exiting transit vehicles fast and easy.

  • Elmer

    To The Moderator: Right now, there are 215 comments under this streetcar article and 26 (over 10%) of them are from drax. Elmer contributed 1 and that one had to wait some time in line for “moderation”.
    The “drax” postings get up quicker and much more frequently than others in nearly instance.
    That’s my observation.

    • Quoth the Raven

      I don’t pretend to know how these things work, but it’s my understanding that certain words trigger the “awaiting moderation” tag. So perhaps drax’ posts don’t contain the “right” words. In other words, it’s a computer program that’s doing this; I doubt there is something sinister about arlnow which allows drax’ posts to show up more quickly.

      • Quoth the Raven

        Ironically, my comment awaited moderation for a little while!

        • Josh S

          Cause you said “dee arrr ay ex”

          I think saying the name of another poster is an automatic flag.

          In any case, Elmer, your conspiracy theory is way off base.

    • drax

      Well, yeah, if I have 26 and you have one, chances are at least one of mine was before yours and therefore got posted before yours.

      • Elmer

        No. Look at the date/time stamp and compare it to when the comment actually shows up (if it gets through moderation) for those who are “moderated”.

  • Mr. Neutron

    Given the huge cost differences and the logistical downside of trolleys, it is narcissistic idiocy on the part of ArlCo Govt to want the trolley because — basically — it looks better/cuter.

    “Liveability” is also affected by taxes and spending an extra $200 or 300 million for a showcase system that is less efficient and carries fewer people will negatively impact the “liveability” of Arlington for the rest of us who live here & have to pay for it.

    Typical narcissistic self-absorbed county planning IMO.

    • Billy Bob

      County Planning is one thing, bad decisions is another.

      I am for a well designed, integrated transpo network in NOVA. Enhanced transit on the pike sounds good.

      The main problem is the argument that streetcars “enhance livablity”.

      TRANSIT does, not one mode of transit. People will want to live on the Pike because the transit will get people to their destination fast and easy, ideally speaking.

      Buses nor streetcars are fast, so what is the rationale? I don’t see the streetcar being SO much more attractive JUST BECAUSE ITS A STREETCAR. It’s going to likely be as slow as the bus service and even more inflexible in case of duress.

      People will ooh and ahh at the streetcar and then forget it until the Pike has serious downtown-ish level density, not to mention Bailey’s Crossroads being overhauled.

      As a local Pike shuttle, it may or may not be succesful but as am attractive connection between NVCC/Skyline/Bailey’s and the Pentagon metro, it’s likely not to be much more attractive than the bus.

      Originally I was for the streetcar but the “con” arguments are just too strong to ignore.

      • AlanB


        Yes, people go Ohh & Ahh at Streetcars and they then try riding them. And as shown in Portland, OR, they keep riding them. When Portland opened their first Streetcar line, not to be confused with their light rail lines, the initial ridership was 1.358 million rides in 2002. Today they’re up to 3.963 million rides as of 2011. Which is why they are actively expanding their Streetcar system, as well as their light rail lines.

        As for that “serious downtown-ish level density” Portland has a population density of 4,375.2 people per square mile as per the US Census Bureau. Alexandria has a population density of 9,314.3 and Arlington Country has a pop density of 7,993.6 people per square mile. So I’m sorry, but that doesn’t wash either.

    • AlanB

      Mr. Neutron,

      First, the very study introduced by those opposed quite clearly states that the Streetcar will carry more people, not fewer people than the buses. That’s the one thing that study got right; most of the rest they got wrong!

      As has been proven in city after city around this country by data from the National Transit Database, Streetcars & light rail, while having hefty upfront costs, end up being cheaper long run. The study introduced by the opposition forgot to include the fact that buses last 10 to 12 years, while Streetcars last 30 to 40 years. That means buying 3 times as many buses long term, something that they didn’t add into their rosy capital cost projections.

      And the idea that the buses will cost less to operate is proven wrong again by the data from the National Transit Database. That data shows that in 2010 on average in this country it costs 70 cents per passenger mile to move people by light rail/streetcars. It also shows that it costs 90 cents per passenger mile to move people by bus.

      This isn’t about something that “looks better/cuter”, this is about something that while causing some pain upfront in costs, long term saves taxpayers monies.

      Do you like higher taxes? I sure don’t!

  • Mr. Neutron


    please explain how “smart growth” is fostered by spending $200 million more or so for a trolley vs. articulated buses, reducing capacity and creating logistical impediments compared the maneuverability of the buses?

    And please stop playing the North vs. South Arl. card, it’s petty, childish, and a smoke screen to avoid the real issues of cost, reliability, etc.

  • bob111

    Maybe they should look at the Euclid Ave project in
    Cleveland? The 16Y bus is a good route. Maybe a
    24 hour 16Y from Ballston to Union Station? Maybe
    they should upgrade S Courthouse RD? Maybe it
    should be a main road to connect to “downtown”?
    The Charm City buses look nice in Baltimore and
    there free for the passenger? The Circulator buses
    in DC are nice. No bus yet on the streetcar route?
    Maybe they should have a bus on the streetcar route?
    I have been looking forward to the streetcar, the cost
    tho. Maybe think subway line when designing a bus
    system for Columbia Pike that it would run like a subway

  • Jack

    “said that project consultants believe the the streetcar will, in fact, raise property values along the Pike.”

    Right…but Columbia Pike is where lower income Alringtonians priced out of the Orange Line move. Higher property values aren’t a bad thing if you’re the property owner..however if you’re the tenant it’s a different story.

  • YTK

    Euclid Avenue in Cleveland has GREAT bus service.
    The rest of Cleveland– hahahahahaha.

  • YTK

    Right on Bob 111– We need MORE bus routes to DC and back — NOT just on weekdays. And to get to Union Station from here on a bus 24/7 would be GREAT!!!!


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