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The 1.3 mile stretch of streetcar line that opened in Seattle just over a year ago looks amazing. Besides their smooth, silent, and odorless ride on tracks, it’s only a small step to board the trams from the sidewalk and you can just wheel a bike right on board with you.

The video says it all, but here’s a little more about the Seattle streetcars:

The streetcar features many top-of-the-line tech amenities, including real time arrival message boards, solar-powered ticket vending machines, and human-activated doors to save energy while the train is in layover mode. If you go to the Seattle Streetcar web site, you can find out the next arrival time and actually watch the streetcars moving via GPS trackers.

[ via StreetsBlog. ]

Any ideas for a test route for something like this in Louisville?

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Branden Klayko

8 COMMENTS

  1. I think I remeber a proposal at one point that involved a streetcar running down 3rd st towards Old Louisville and then back up 4th st. That seems like it could be a good start and then maybe have them runing down Main and Market. Anyhing that could bring downtown, Old Louisville, and U ofL ‘s campus come together, would only do good things for our City!

  2. Can we not run a streetcar line along the railroad tracks that parallel Frankfort Avenue? There exists immediate space for rails to be laid down where the 2nd set of rails used to exist before CSX took them up. Not exactly “streetcars” but close enough for me

  3. if only the energy around light rail could focus on a single solution, tarc already had a lot of the work to make t2 happen engineered.

    it would have been a north/south line running sort of parallel to 65 and making a large loop downtown (preston, main, 6th, market: i think), hitting the hospital district, ups, u of l, fairgrounds, and other major peopleplaces along the way.

    sure, it’s not EXACTLY what everybody wants, but it would be a great potential-high-volume-use starting point from which to build a larger system.

  4. The Frankfort Avenue rail line is an interesting one and hits many major neighborhoods on its route from Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium to LaGrange and beyond. That’s going to be the topic of a future article.

    That would be light rail, though, like T2. Streetcars are more in between light rail and buses, in our opinion, and serve busy urban areas. the 3rd/4th corridor or Main/Market corridor make sense, but what do you think about Bardstown/Baxter/Broadway or Logan/Shelby?

  5. unless they’re like new orleans streetcars, i.e., often not actually IN the street, streetcars have the problem of having to share space with cars and deal with the same accident delays and traffic signals that cars do. those locations in new orleans where the streetcars do hit the streets is where they get slowed down significantly.

    if you still have the cost of the rail and the power, why not go all the way and give it dedicated space? this way you can tout the benefit of light rail not only because it’s good public transit but because it can BEAT traffic and take away from congestion on the surface streets.

  6. Street cars may be romantic, but unless you have them seperated from other vehicle traffic, they become another part of that traffic.

    As far as running rails parallel to Frankfort Avenue or sharing the existing line, that has been looked into before. CSX is neither interested in giving up any of its right of way for new tracks, nor is it willing to allow others to use the line for public transport.

  7. Streetcars would often be part of traffic and can suffer delays like cars and buses, but I don’t think we can dismiss them as romantic. There are parts of town that need efficient transportation (Bardstown Road for example) that can’t handle light rail (there’s no room). To deal with congestion, there are technologies like those implemented in Seattle like real-time arrival time notifications at stops and accessible via internet/cell-phone and GPS tracking. Streetcars can be used for commuting, but that’s not their sole (or even best in some cases) function. They are very good for getting around a specific place or district. Light rail will always win out for commuting (i.e. dedicated ROW and fewer stops), and there are plenty of great routes for light rail in the city that many have mentioned. In the long term, a comprehensive transit system will allow all the components to work together. There are problems dealing with corporate freight lines for ROW, but if there were a concerted effort to create a Federal High Speed Rail network, issues such as this could be dealt with. That’s a complicated topic. But back to streetcars, I think there are definitely benefits to sharing the streets in some cases with streetcars/trams. Dedicated tram ROW in some cases can work, too, (or weaving between shared/dedicated) as many European cities currently practice.

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