Desire for Streetcars Spreads Across America

From Atlanta to Kansas City to Los Angeles, cities across the country are welcoming a return of streetcars to their downtowns in the hopes of boosting economic growth and improving circulation. Some see the cars as just the latest urban planning fad.

Spurred by opportunities for federal financing, and the desire by cities to enliven their downtowns for a new generation of city-dwellers, streetcars are making a return to America's cities en masse, reports Caroline Porter. 

Portland, Oregon's streetcar, which is credited with spurring the construction of more than 10,000 new housing units and 5.4 million square feet of office, institutional, retail and hotel construction since its first leg opened in 2001, is the gold standard for demonstrating what such projects can provide. Examples of less successful streetcar projects, however, can be found in Tampa and Little Rock.

Streetcar critic Randal O'Toole, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute, argues that Portland's success was driven more by city business incentives than the return of a vintage means of transport. "Putting 125-year-old technology into modern cities is going to create more congestion, dangerous situations for pedestrians and divert taxpayers' money from transit that people really need to transit that is silly," Mr. O'Toole said.

Full Story: Streetcar Plans Plow Ahead

Comments

building block set

NEW! Build the world you want to see

Irresistible block set for adults when placed on a coffee table or desk, and great fun for kids.
$25

Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
Book cover of Where Things Are from Near to Far

Where Things Are From Near to Far

This engaging children's book about planning illustrates that "every building has its place."
$19.95
Book cover of Insider's Guide to Careers in Urban Planning

So you want to be a planner...

Check out our behind the scenes look at 25 careers in the Urban Planning field
Starting at $14.95