Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Streetcars in Vancouver's future?

The Columbian has an article about Vancouver starting to look into the idea of streetcars. It's all very preliminary, but since transportation moves me so much I thought it worthy of note.
City Manager Pat McDonnell said the city needs to consider what type of transit could be used to promote movement within Vancouver and Clark County.

"This is just getting the council some education and bringing them some understanding of how one system works over there," he said about the Sept. 17 council excursion. "Whether we can emulate it, I don't know."

City officials want to answer that question. McDonnell said the city has asked Gramor Development to include streetcars or some other form of transit in its plans for redeveloping the former Boise Cascade industrial site on the Columbia River near downtown.
When one considers these ideas are flowing as both the Columbia River Crossing project and the RTC's High Capacity Transit System Study move along, these are exciting times for those who hope we can at least begin to find better ways to get around than burning expensive imported gasoline.

In one sense, Clark County has a silver lining in all this, in that there really is not much transit infrastructure in place yet. There are basically some park and ride lots, and while they are well done, there is the chance that proper planning could serve future generations quite well.

Whether streetcars pencil out will be an interesting issue. Since it's pretty much a given that a new bridge across the Columbia would have to incorporate transit in the form of light rail or "bus rapid transit," the issue then becomes how to move people within Vancouver and the unincorporated areas within the Urban Growth Boundary. It'll be fascinating (to dorks like me anyhow) to learn whether streetcars offer any advantages over traditional buses other than their romantic appeal.

If it turns out streetcars have mostly aesthetic rather than practical appeal, then having them downtown only might be logical. We'll see.

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