Beginning in 2009, the Department of Transportation began encouraging many cities to apply for federal funds that would assist in construction of these streetcar projects. Washington, D.C. has been encouraging cities to think about new transit ideas, says Yonah Freemark:
"The fact that streetcars can be built with lower per-mile costs than other forms of rail transit, their ability to attract denser development in some cases, and the possibility of farming off most of their costs to another government entity has made them incredibly appealing. Washington, seeking transit projects that are visible and reinforce dense communities, has been a willing partner in this effort."
Freemark doesn't entirely approve of the shift to streetcars, however:
"...the difficult side of the story is that many of the projects are planned to be constructed in a manner that provides an inferior quality of service than the bus lines they replace."