Weekend Links

» This week’s big news. Open thread in the comments.

Slow updates this week and next — I’m on vacation. Happy Fourth! Follow my Twitter account (@ttpolitic) to get news in real time.

On The Transport Politic:


  • Charlotte prepares to receive a $25 million grant from the federal government for the first 1.5-mile section of its proposed streetcar. Nothing is assured, though: The city’s competing with a number of other big competitors for grants, including Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and Washington.
  • A commentator in Kansas City makes the almost laughable comparison between public transit in Stockholm, Sweden and his Missouri city. One has a fast rail link to the airport, a metro system, commuter trains. The other has… none of that.
  • Portland may be orienting the route of its future Milwaukie Light Rail project in the interests of wealthy developers. Is that a good idea?
  • The New York Times‘ San Francisco bureau exposes some of the conflicts between proponents of big transit-oriented developments and environmentalists.


  • New York may be slow at building new subway lines, but that doesn’t mean it’s incapable of improving its system appropriately. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has produced an interesting video on the currently under construction passage linking the Lawrence Street and Jay Street stations in downtown Brooklyn. This block-long tunnel will handle 32,000 commuters everyday, allowing them a quicker route to their Manhattan destinations.
  • They’ve been talking about it forever, but L.A. is finally getting its Gold Line light rail extension program under construction. The so-called Foothill expansion will run from Sierra Madre Villa to Azusa. One hopes L.A. Metro avoids the kind of revenue problems that have led to service cutbacks in cities like St. Louis, which is only now restoring operations thanks to a sales tax increase approved earlier this year.
  • A month after the plan was announced, the City of London (the Greater London Authority, not the “City”) takes full control of the Underground, buying off a group of public-private partnerships. The Taiwan high-speed rail project, which was financed by private groups and had trouble last year keeping afloat, posted last month its first operating profit after three years.

Image above: Charlotte Streetcar project map, from CATS Application for Urban Circulator Grant

6 replies on “Weekend Links”

While I’ve been critical of some aspect of the Milwaukie Light rail project, the criticism expressed in the cited article is off base. It is asserted that the routing of the line through South Waterfront is shady, and that a more northern crossing (where, exactly, is not suggested) would produce better outcomes and better serve inner SE Portland.

Two issues:

1) There are actually good technical reasons to cite the crossing where it is; the new bridge (which will serve both bus and rail) is located near both Powell Boulevard, a major bus hub in its own right, and near TriMet’s main bus depot. In addition, the line passes through quite a bit of greenfield and brownfields along the way, and is a straightforward extension to the existing Green or Yellow lines, should TriMet choose to implement the service that way. (Whether or not it will extend one of the existing lines, or a be a separate line, has not been officially announced).

2) There is a new line opening to service inner SE–the Streetcar Loop project, which comes into operation next year (and will become a full loop when the bridge itself opens) runs right through the neighborhoods in question.

I have bigger concerns with sandwiching the line between OR99E and the UPRR mainline south of downtown–a decision which limits the availability of local neighborhoods to use the line. But the routing of the line within inner Portland itself makes sense.

“My wife says Stockholm’s air smells fresher than Kansas City’s. Maybe that’s because Stockholm has cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent over the past 20 years.”

Heh, yeah, stinky carbon dioxide.

Charlotte Streetcar seems to be more like Toronto’s streetcars or “tramways” than most of the proposed American modern streetcar systems. As in simply street running light rail, due to its station spacing and the projected length of the fully built out line. Does this mean they are not eligible for circulator grants, and only competing for TIGER II?

I’m chuckling at the Stockholm comparison (which is a reasonable one), however, see the link above for the biggest infrastructure project there, a sort of mega big dig project for a, gasp, highway bypass of the inner city (which is the only motorway or major road link between north and south except far to the west due to the lakes and the baltic). A lot of inner city expressways have already been buried in Stockholm, so it’s nothing new.

Not terribly relevant, but my daughter and her bf both attend Central Piedmont CC in Charlotte, and neither had a clue as to why rails were being installed in the street that splits the campus. :/

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