The American Public Transportation Association defines a streetcar as "rail transit vehicles designed for local transportation, powered by electricity received from an overhead wire" (APTA). Streetcars are a means of public transportation typically focused in a relatively small downtown or other high-use areas as an alternative or supplement to buses and light rail networks.
Strategies and Greenhouse Gas Reduction
Cost to the City
Expensive to very expensive. The city of Albuquerque's estimates that it's modern streetcar system (scheduled to open in Fall 2009) will cost $28 million/mile (cost includes steel rail, concrete, pedestrian friendly stops, traffic signals, maintenance facility, power source, utility reconstruction, roadway reconstruction, and streetcar vehicles). In contrast, the city of Portland's modern streetcar (completed in 2001) cost $11.4 million/mile.
What is most likely to be the largest single task is acquiring the necessary amount of funding for the program. While streetcar systems are less expensive than light rail, the figures still reach into the tens of millions, depending on the size of the route. Other tasks include:
The Portland Streetcar has been in operation in downtown Portland since 2001, and at that time was the first modern streetcar to be built in North America in the past fifty years. The 4.8-mile system was constructed in only two years and at a reasonable cost ($54.6 million). Since its implementation mass transit ridership in the city has increased 87% and it has generated an estimated $2.2 billion in direct redevelopment. The streetcar system is seen as a model system by other municipalities.
The city (population 92,800) introduced a modern streetcar system in 2000 and currently has a ridership of 60,000 people per year. The system is also attributed with the generation of $150 million in direct development.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Introduced in 2004, Little Rock's (population 184,000) modern streetcar system currently has a ridership of 118,000 people per year and $200 million in direct development has been generated to date.
The city's (population 326,000) implementation of a modern streetcar system in 2003 has resulted in the generation of $1 billion in direct redevelopment to date and 434,500 people currently use the system per year.
Other cities that currently have an operating modern streetcar system include: Memphis, Tennessee; San Francisco, California; and New Orleans, Louisiana. Seattle currently has a system under construction that is scheduled for completion in late 2007, as does Washington D.C.