Streetcars Continue to Fail
From D.C. to Atlanta, from San Antonio to Salt Lake City, streetcar projects have run into delays, cutbacks and other snags, and some have been scrapped altogether. The most dramatic recent example was November’s demise of a $550 million, state-aided streetcar project in the liberal, traditionally pro-transit D.C. suburb of Arlington County, Va., which had turned politically toxic as its price tag more than doubled. (DOT rejected an application for federal funds for that project, but supporters believed a second attempt would succeed.)
The project in Arlington, Virginia, has come to a complete stop because of problems. This is noteworthy because the region was held up as a positive example by streetcar booster Councilman Russ Johnson at the two-mile starter line’s groundbreaking. According to POLITICO:
In D.C., the H Street line is three years late in opening, marred by missteps like a test run in which the streetcar had to stand still for 15 minutes while an ambulance blocked its path. This fall, the District cut the size of its planned streetcar network from 20 miles to eight miles.
Kansas City voters wisely rejected a streetcar expansion effort in November, but city leaders seem intent on putting it on the ballot again. If city leadership won’t listen to voters, perhaps they will heed their peers around the country who are rethinking their positions.