|H Street Line, Washington, DC|
- The line has been built in a mixed traffic lane rather than be given its own dedicated lane. This reduces the streetcar's speed and makes it no better than a bigger bus on rails. Part of what makes light rail successful** is the dedicated lane. Without this lane the line is unable to bypass car congestion and thus provide the positive time differential that helped justify e.g. Salt Lake's investment.
- The line has been built in the outer lane. This second point makes it own strange kind of sense -- once you've decided not to build a dedicated ROW, there's something vaguely suicidal about asking passengers to run across a traffic lane unless you're willing to put carstops in, and if you're doing curb bumpouts as well, then why not put those there? However -- by putting the streetcar track in the outer lane you create conflicts between the streetcar and parallel parkers, delaying the transit vehicle for a single driver. These kinds of conflicts slow down vehicles on our country's remaining historic streetcar lines all the time -- one of the reasons Boston's Green Line is one of the most reliable is because (unlike the examples in Philly, Toronto, and San Francisco) the vast majority of the surface system lies in dedicated medians.
|1st Street, San José|
|Woodward Avenue, ca. 1942. Note that even then there was little real congestion.|
|M-1 Streetcar plan reveals same engineering failures as H Street -- this time, with even less excuse.|
|Kansas City Streetcar render|
No. The transportation investment that would please us the most is in quality bike infrastructure. We want to ride around everywhere. Bike-friendly cities are Millennials' cities.
* Portland's downtown streets are only 40 feet wide; historic streetcars ran in the middle of the street. (See, for example, Philly's trolleys.)
** And good BRT -- Cleveland's Euclid Avenue being the only such example in the United States today.