Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why S.A. Needs Streetcars

Limitations of Our Existing Transit System:

• Bus: The existing Via Metro Bus system does an excellent job of providing access to downtown and other regional employment centers, but it does not always meet the needs of those traveling within the Downtown District, and it is not meant to spur economic development. In addition, many bus routes traverse corridors that have waited decades for the economic development and revitalization that can be achieved using rail lines.
• Rubber-Tire Streetcar: The existing Streetcar system addresses some of these gaps but is mostly tourist and visitor serving, which reduces their effectiveness. A rail line along land that is ready for development, such as Broadway, can open the opportunity for San Antonio’s newest neighborhood, River North, to come alive and spur the other surrounding neighborhoods.

Streetcars Offer Many Benefits:

Cities around the world have greatly benefited from streetcar systems, which have eased traffic congestion, reduced air pollution from automobiles and spurred economic development. S.A. could too. Streetcars offer the following benefits:
• Streetcar lines are much cheaper to build than subway lines and cheaper to operate and maintain than bus lines.
• Streetcars can carry more riders than buses.
• Streetcars provide a smooth, comfortable ride and are much quieter than buses.
• Because streetcars run on electricity rather than gas, they do not emit air pollution at street level as buses do. And with diesel and natural gas prices expected to increase in the future, electric streetcars will be cheaper to power than buses.
• Streetcar lines in other cities have demonstrated their ability to promote economic development and neighborhood revitalization along their routes.
• Streetcars can draw more people out of their cars and onto transit than buses.

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