[Photo Credit: Jamie Francis, The Oregonian]
The Oregonian reports that the Feds have approved $75 million for the east-side streetcar project. This begs the question, why fixed-route surface transit? It is no faster than busses, much more costly to implement, less flexible in terms of scheduling and cannot adapt its route to changing ridership patterns. I suppose the best answer is that it is a commitment device that can spur development in areas in which such activity is considered desirable. In so doing it can promote even more density, which is generally a good thing for local economies and the environment. I suppose it might be more energy efficient, but I am a bit skeptical, especially relative to electric busses like those in SF that get power from overhead lines. I am no expert or even much of a casual student of transit, so I am wondering why the feds are endorsing it so enthusiastically. What have I missed or what should be added to the discussion?