by Edward Havens
Rider ship on the Atlanta modern streetcar line has risen by 10 percent since the start of the year and that is despite a $1 fare that was implemented in 2016, the "atlanta curbed dot com" site reported June 9th.
Atlanta Streetcar #1004, one of four Siemens S70 vehicles currently in service!
The article said the 2.7-mile car line from Centennial Olympic Park through downtown to the Martin Luther King, Jr. visitor attraction "finally" is getting on track following construction delays and cost overruns and has resolved most of the safety issues with the rest to be addressed by the end of June 2017. The next big issue will be deciding how the street railway system should be expanded to other areas of Georgia's largest city. WXIA television reported June 20 that Atlanta plans to turn over operation of its downtown streetcar to Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). The agency board votes on it in July.
C.A.F.-built Cincinnati streetcar 1175!
The Cincinnati City Council was set in June to finalize an operating budget for the city's 3.6-mile modern streetcar line between downtown and Over-the-Rhine historic zone. There was some consternation among members of the council transportation committee about a request from the regional transit authority for a six percent increase or $226,000 over the previous annual operating budget of $4.2 million. Echoing the language of President Donald Trump, Councilman Chris Seelbach called media reports that the car line is failing a case of "fake news," KVXU public radio reported June 6. The winter chill depressed ridership but by the end of April, the car line had a positive black ink surplus of $172, 976. In May, preliminary rider ship numbers showed 53,116 passengers compared with only 49,966 during April 2017. The streetcar line, using C.A.F.-built "Urbos 3" streetcars, began carrying passengers in September 2016.
"A" end of Cincinnati Connector Car #1175!
According to sources, it is rare for The Cincinnati Enquirer to issue a correction to a streetcar story but that is exactly what happened on June 9th. The Editor-In-Chief said in an online post that the regional transit agency and the city did not release all documents pertaining to the funding of street railway operations. So instead of facing an operating deficit in Fiscal Year 2017 of $474,930, the system actually will have an accounting black ink surplus of $45,634, so said said Peter Bhatia, a multiple winner of the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. With new documents in hand, he was able to report that the surplus comes from tax incentives from companies along the streetcar line from downtown to Over-the-Rhine historic zone.
The Q Line modern streetcar at Detroit will offer free rides though Labor day thanks to funding from Kresge Foundation, the "M Live" site reported June 22.
Jackson County Court in Kansas City has certified 5,752 people along a three-mile proposed modern streetcar extension to vote in a mail-in ballot tax election, the Kansas City Star newspaper reported June 12. Completed ballots must be returned to the court by August 1. The plan is to extend the two-mile streetcar southward by three miles from Union Station to the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus. It is a cumbersome three-step process. If voters approve the project, tax board directors must be elected, followed by a third election to set tax rates. The urban rail expansion would cost an estimated $227 million.
One of the Four Current Kansas City Streetcars at Work!
Meanwhile the KC Streetcar folks are promoting events such as the Summer Music Series & Art On The Line projects, aimed at precisely the group of Greater Kansas City residents learning to once again appreciate public transit and the relative smoothness and quiet of a streetcar. Meanwhile rider ship continues to climb.
And the KC Streetcar Authority just received approval from the City council to purchase two additional streetcars for the existing downtown route. Currently there are four streetcars and three are required daily. The total projected cost is $11 million, with the CAF-built cars at $4.9 million each plus parts and inspection support. The daily rider ship, projected as 2,700 has been running at 5,700.
Little Rock, the capital city of Arkansas, is offering free rides all summer from June 1 to August 31 to build rider ship and curry public favor for expanding the 3.4-mile service operated by heritage-style Gomaco-built double truck replica Birneys (see below) to other areas of the city.
Gomaco-Built Little Rock Double Truck Birney 408!
The city's bus system only operates until 8 p.m. nightly but the trolleys ply the rails until midnight from Thursday to Saturday nights, KATV television reported June 6. When regular fares resume this fall the streetcar will charge $1.00 for a ride compared with $1.35 on the buses. The first generation streetcar network with 21 miles of track and mostly single truck Birneys was abandoned on December 26, 1947.
Sacramento Regional Transit District serving California's state capital city shut down parts of three light rail routes during the second weekend in June for replacement of a 30-year-old track switch at 13th Street station, television station KCRA reported also on June 9th. Crews were working 24 hours a day to complete the project before the start of Monday morning commuter service on the Blue, Green and Gold lines. The district reported that buses were to be used to bridge the gaps in LRT service. The 13th Street station was closed throughout the weekend.
Sacramento 1985-86 vintage Siemens U2A #108 heading a four-car train on their Blue Line!
Orange County Transportation Authority in Southern California south of Los Angeles expects to finalize a full funding agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation by December 2017 for a 4.1-mile, $299.3 million modern streetcar line from Santa Ana to Garden Grove, the Los Angeles Times reported June 11.
Artists Concept of Orange County Streetcar!
The "OC Streetcar" as the project is named will have four traction power substations and a trip over the line will take 30 minutes. Santa Ana, the newspaper reported, is the nation's fifth most densely populated city so there is lots of rider ship potential. Garden Grove Mayor Steve Jones called the streetcar project "a major step forward." About two miles of the car line will be built on former Pacific Electric "Red Car" right of way alongside Santa Aria River channel. The Red Car once ran about 20 miles from Santa Ana to Paramount in Los Angeles County.
One of Valley Metro's 50 KinkiSharyo Low Floor Light Rail Vehicles!
Phoenix-based Valley Metro plans to extend the eastern end of its light rail system from the downtown area of suburban Mesa by two miles to Gilbert Road and will divert funding intended for roadway intersection upgrades to fund its 5.7 percent share of the $186 million project, the "east valley tribune web site reported June 12. An increase in construction costs has raised the city of Mesa share to $10.6 million. The original Valley Metro 20-mile starter line ended in west Mesa, one mile inside city limits, but this was followed by a three-mile extension into the central business district. The Gilbert Road extension is expected to stimulate economic and real estate development. Valley Metro's Rail Board had approved Kiewit as the construction manager at-risk for the South Central extension, which should start in 2019. Kiewit constructed a segment of the original 20 miles of the system that opened in 2008, as well as the 3-mile Central Mesa Extension that opened in 2015.
One of the 18 PCCII streetcars that run on the SEPTA route 15, Girard Avenue Line!
Philadelphia-based Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will shut down all of the Route 15, Girard Avenue trolley Route 15 from June 18 to Sept. 17 from the western terminal at 63rd and Girard in West Philadelphia to the Delaware and Frankford short turn loop opposite Sugar House casino. A track replacement project will lay 4,100 feet of new track from Broad Street westward including rails across the Schuylkill River bridge. Buses will replace trolley service. The new rail will be encased in a rubber boot to smooth the ride an reduce vibration. This section was last replaced in the late 1950s, according to a SEPTA news release posted June 9th. Parking lanes on two sections of Girard will be closed to weld rail and store the T-rail strings until they can be installed.
Editor Note: The route 15 trolley line is the only Philadelphia trolley line that runs east of the Schuylkill River into North Philadelphia. SEPTA, starting in 1968, systematically killed the other North Philadelphia lines over the years. These lines included Route 6, Ogontz Avenue; Route 23, Germantown Avenue; Route 47, 5th Street; Route 50, Rising Sun Avenue; Route 53, Wayne Avenue, Route 56, Erie Avenue and Route 60, Allegheny Avenue. Route 15 was also converted to buses in 1992 when the last two North Philadelphia routes, route 23 and 56 were converted to buses, however, political pressure forced SEPTA to bring back Route 15 in 2005. Luzerne Depot, that supported the other lines, by that time had already been sold and decommissioned. Eighteen PCC cars from the 1947 and 1948 buys were sent to Brookville and came back back as PCCIIs, which are essentially LRVs in a PCC body.
Sacramento Streetcar Concept!
Sacramento Regional Transit has pledged $25 million toward a proposed downtown streetcar line that would cross the Tower Bridge and serve the independent municipality of West Sacramento opposite California's state capital city, the Sacramento Bee newspaper reported June 11. The funding would be part of $100 million in state and local money toward the $200 million urban rail project with another $100 million to be sought in federal grant money. If some 300 commercial property owners along the portion of the route in Sacramento okay the project in a mail-in tax ballot vote, a full funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration will be sought this summer or fall. The Sacramento Bee newspaper reported on June 21 that voters along the downtown route approved a special tax levy for the project.