A Desire Named Streetcar

I grew up in New York City and went to college in the Boston area, so when I moved to Ohio I experienced traumatic mass transit withdrawal.  I got my driver's license at 18, but could count the number of times I actually drove a car on both hands until I had to drive out to Wright-Patterson to report for duty four years later.  My first encounter with a 55-mph, two-lane country road was like an amusement park thrill ride for me.  (My wife still laughs at me when i tell that story.)

I miss New York's subway and Boston's trolleys.  I use Metro as much as I can, in conjunction with my bike.

That said, I've always been skeptical of the plan for streetcars here in Cincinnati.  I've always thought buses are the way to go: you can reroute as necessary, you can get clean diesel-electrics, and they force us to maintain the streets to avoid destroying our investment.  I thought streetcars were mainly a subsidy to real-estate developers who bought up property along the line.

I'm reconsidering that, based partly on some arguments I read about Tacoma's plan for streetcars.  The idea of streetcars as the backbone to a city-wide transportation system is appealing to me.   The fact that streetcars get higher ridership, are more reliable in traffic, and help plan growth to avert sprawl are making sense.

I'm going to attend the Cincinnatians for Progress meeting and fundraiser at Grammer's tonight to learn more.  Hope I'll see you there!

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