Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Riverside Gets Streetcar Money

InlandEmpire.US, which appears to be an IE PR newswire, is reporting (along with the PE and CBS, but IE.US is running the full press release and everyone else seems to be a little confused) that the City has received $237,500 in state money towards the planning of a streetcar line from UCR to downtown, with the project dubbed "Riverside Reconnects." (Points for alliteration, but hardly inspiring.)

Prior reporting from the PE suggests that the plan will be little more than a novelty, rather than a serious investment in transport infrastructure. The plan is currently split between a single track and two tracks, the latter in mixed traffic. Either way, the plan as it currently exists (which, granted, is a back-of-the-envelope sketch straight from Mayor Rusty's office) would spend a lot of money to make a transport service that is worse than existing high-frequency bus transit along University. I'm hoping that $237,500 is enough to convince the City that this thing either needs dedicated lanes, or it needs to be smothered in its infancy, before we spend $100 million on a useless toy train for City Hall to brag about.


David S said...

Check this out - Metrolink related http://cycleriffraff.blogspot.com/

Your bio was interesting too. Not mine, but there are some similarities.

arbaro said...

I don't know how much you'd by this, but here's a list of more subtle benefits streetcars have over busses: http://www.streets.mn/2013/03/12/six-less-obvious-benefits-to-streetcars/

Perhaps Mayor Bailey is more interested in streetcars as a way of catalyzing some more pedestrian-friendly development in the Eastside? That, and making University Ave less of a traffic gutter, seem like worthwhile goals in themselves. I'm not saying that they make the entire project worthwhile, but they're definitely factors worth considering.

JN said...

Of those benefits, though, only two and a half* actually are streetcar-specific. Quiet, articulated electric trolleybuses, with around 80 seats, ply the roadways of cities from San Francisco to Seattle to Shanghai. And in terms of traffic calming-- wouldn't a dedicated transit lane do a hell of a lot of traffic calming?

I'm not *against* streetcars... I'm against streetcars that are worse than the bus they replace. Median-running streetcars in a dedicated lane? Bring 'em on. Side-lane streetcars with frequent stops in mixed traffic? Spend that $100 million on the buses instead.

*Half of the "Ride quality" the author attributes to the engine, and that isn't an inherent part of the streetcar/bus divide. Diesel-hydraulic powertrains can be used in rail vehicles, and they do do awful things to the ride quality-- take the SPRINTER in Oceanside some time. Electric powertrains can, as I mentioned above, also be used on buses.