Long before mass produced automobiles paved the way for interstates, the streetcar system was the dominant mode of transportation in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In an effort to revive this old mode of public transportation, several studies have been conducted, resulting in the Minneapolis Streetcar Feasibility Study Final Report. This report identified potential corridors for a long-term streetcar network to be implemented in the course of the next 20 – 50 years. A second study, called the Minneapolis Streetcar Funding Study Final Report, identified several federal and local funding opportunities.
Current urban planning efforts include the Nicollet – Central Transit Alternatives Study, which will determine the benefits, costs, and impacts of implementing a variety of transit modes and service types, including streetcar and enhanced bus options or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), in order to identify a locally preferred alternative for the Metropolitan Council’s 2030 Transportation Policy Plan. The Midtown Corridor Alternatives Analysis will also determine benefits, costs and impacts of implementing light rail, streetcar, busway, or BRT along two major city arterials near the Midtown Global Market.
Whether it is a new fad or a permanent solution, the streetcar provides numerous benefits as opposed to the BRT or light rail. Some of the benefits include increased economic activity, reduction in gas emissions, and being a tourist attraction, making this transit mode more sustainable. And while the streetcar requires more funding than a BRT, it would be a permanent solution as opposed to a bus line. However, the required infrastructure would also makes the streetcar less flexible in changing routes when compared to buses.
Taking into consideration the positives and negatives of the said types of transit services, which one is most feasible? What benefits has the streetcar system generated in your city?
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