The Modern Streetcar – Rolling Out Nationwide
Streetcar services are rapidly emerging as a primary option for cities seeking new ways to encourage growth and economic development in downtown sectors. In addition to thriving services in Portland and Seattle, there are new services similar to the Atlanta Streetcar that are in development in Tucson, Ft. Lauderdale,Charlotte, Dallas, Washington, DC, and a dozen other cities.
The Portland Streetcar service runs on two separate lines in downtown Portland, each approximately 4 miles in length. Ridership on the original NS Line topped 11,000 daily riders, and the second service line has seen ridership steadily increase since operations began in late 2012. The first streetcar system in the United States to use modern streetcars, the Portland Streetcar has become a model for other cities to follow, and expansion plans are in development.
The Seattle Streetcar began service in 2007, providing a 1.3 mile line running from Westlake to South Lake Union. In 2011, there were over 700,000 rides on the Seattle Streetcar, and ridership continues to grow. Linking to local bus routes, monorail service, and other transit options, the Seattle Streetcar is in the process of adding additional lines of service.
Sun Link, also known as the Tucson Modern Streetcar, is a single-line streetcar system currently under construction, with service scheduled to begin in 2014. The system’s 3.9-mile route will connect the Arizona Health Sciences Center, the University of Arizona campus, the Main Gate and 4th Avenue shopping and entertainment districts, the Mercado District, the Tucson Convention Center and Downtown Tucson.
Shovels meet pavement beginning in 2014 as Ft. Lauderdale officials start work on The Wave, which is expected to resemble the streetcars currently in service in Portland, Oregon. Ft. Lauderdale’s new streetcar network is expected to form the core of an emerging county transit system linking the downtown area to not only the rest of Broward’s largest city, but eventually the entire county and region.
Construction for the CityLYNX Gold Line – Phase 1 began in December 2012. The alignment will serve the Charlotte central business district and provide connectivity to surrounding communities and institutions. The proposed streetcar line will run 10 miles along Beatties Ford Road near I-85 through the CBD along Trade Street, traveling up Elizabeth Avenue by Central Piedmont Community College and out to Central Avenue at Eastland Mall.
After receiving a $23 million TIGER Grant in 2010, plans moved forward for the Dallas Streetcar service from downtown Dallas to Oak Cliff. The first phase of the project includes an approximate 1.6-mile dedicated streetcar track extending from near Union Station in downtown Dallas to the Colorado Boulevard and Beckley Avenue intersection in Oak Cliff. Construction on this project began in May 2013.
DC Streetcar will facilitate travel in the District by complementing existing transit options and by creating neighborhood connections where they currently do not exist. Roadway construction along the H/Benning Corridor is expected to continue through late 2013, leading the way for the streetcar vehicles to begin the testing process along the route by year’s end. This 2.4 mile segment is the initial leg of what is envisioned as a network of streetcar lines servicing the District and surrounding areas.