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There is no technical reason you can't run a light rail train on a street car line. Run express light rail trains that bypass the slower street cars. Run these express trains from the outer most station skipping the inner stations. These light rail express trains could diverge back on to the blue line downtown. 

 

Or more to the point, why cant we have both a street car and light rail. 

 

TH

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Streetcar #401 in the wild at North yard. Testing (in the yard) was underway this afternoon.      

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There is no technical reason you can't run a light rail train on a street car line. Run express light rail trains that bypass the slower street cars. Run these express trains from the outer most station skipping the inner stations. These light rail express trains could diverge back on to the blue line downtown.

Or more to the point, why cant we have both a street car and light rail.

TH

Sounds like a lot of hassle just to call it a light rail so some feel tingly inside... When it wouldn't be any faster than streetcar

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^Except that the slowest section of Blue Line is also the most celebrated for its return on investment.  Based on the South End precedent, and the forthcoming NoDa repeat, it seems slower speeds and shorter station spacing would be acceptable within the first two miles of Uptown.

 

I think Silver Line could start off "streetcar-like" to Hawthorne, then pick up the right-of-way along Independence until around Conference Drive (though on one side, not the median), then swing over to a widened Monroe Road with a new median out to Matthews.

 

If mixed travel inside of Hawthorne is a concern, then convert some blocks of Trade and Elizabeth to a transit mall, while dieting other blocks for exclusive lanes.

 

Meanwhile, Central Avenue should just become a premium Sprinter line.  It's too expensive to get around CSX to reach Plaza.  Silver Line can cross it, as Independence does.  Plus, an enhanced bus line can continue even farther out than Eastland to Albemarle and WT Harris.

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Sounds like a lot of hassle just to call it a light rail so some feel tingly inside... When it wouldn't be any faster than streetcar

The whole idea behind this concept of combining the Silver Line and the Central Avenue Streetcar is to bring down the overall cost of the system by reducing redundancies and forcing ridership models to evaluate a single line rather than 2 or 3 separate lines.  If costs are reduced and ridership increased,  the project is more likely to receive funding. It's not like the Central Avenue line is shovel ready, there is a lot more engineering work that must take place.  Combining the Silver Line and the Golden Calf...I mean the Gold Line... is a way to tweak the east/southeast corridor while the projects are still in their embryonic phases to produce a transit mode that will serve all citizens of that area.  Forcing the Gold Line and indefinitely postponing the Silver Line amid rapidly inflating construction costs is a recipe for disaster, and could negatively impact the entire transportation picture for East Charlotte which is already a hot mess. 

 

I understand everyone has a different opinion, but I am confused by some of the commentary against the idea of combining the lines.  Last year when the streetcar was dead in it's tracks, many on this forum proposed semi-dedicated ROWs, traffic light timers, and multi-car trains (i.e. rapid streetcar) as a means of increasing the palatability of the streetcar line to the consumer.  Now that there is a low level idea floating that would combine all aforementioned proposals, many seem to be opposed.  What has changed?

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^I don't think there's been a change in reception on this board to streetcar with " semi-dedicated ROWs, traffic light timers, and multi-car trains".  Those who are in favor of it still are, those who question it still do.

 

The problem (in my mind) is not the tweaking of the "streetcar" into "rapid Streetcar".   Frankly at the end of the day the general city population will see it as same horse/different color whether light rail, streetcar or rapid streetcar - it's mass transit rail and the argument remains is it needed, and who does it serve?

 

And there you have my problem with the one line issue on the East side (regardless of what you call it).  

 

There are  two very significant population bases on either side of Independence Blvd, both side has unique destinations and selling power. Going by the approximate planned length of the original Streetcar line:    If it runs down Central then everyone south of Elizabeth to Cotswold misses out as does nearby attractions of Ovens Auditorium/Bojangles/The Park Mini-Convention Center, as well as walking distance to the Mint Museum on Randolph;  If it runs down Monroe, there goes all of Central Avenue and that Development potential (which in my mind is probably some of the best TOD potential in the city) from Plaza Midwood to Eastland.

 

This whole "which East Side" gets mass transit is likely the reason the city originally proposed the Silver down Independence in 2006.

 

Personally - I think we need multiple East to West lines but I know that won't be happening.   

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A station along Independence and Pecan splits the difference between Midwood and Elizabeth. Central is fatally flawed by the CSX crossing. 7th Street is too skinny.

Past Briar Creek, Independence narrows down. Maybe cut over to Monroe via City-owned land surrounding Coliseum. Otherwise, pick a side of Independence out to Conference and switch over to Monroe there.

Central has some width past Briar Creek, but it aims you more towards Albemarle Rd. Honestly, that corridor is very strong for transit, but MTC structure means the Silver Line must reach Matthews.

Edited by southslider
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I totally agree with dedicating a median to streetcars in certain parts of the city, as well as sharing routes with light rail.   However, I am concerned that the city leaders do not act like brainstorming new ideas or solutions to our transit plan is even possible at this point. 

 

When the vision stagnates it becomes stale.   I wholly support the first few phases of streetcar, but I also agree that if there are intermediate solutions such as dedicated streetcar lanes or light rail with some sections of mixed traffic, that they should be pursued.

 

 

There is a lot of validity to say that lines like the inner section of the Blue Line and Streetcar are likely to be infrastructure that supports dense redevelopment as long as other factors are there.   Obviously the suburban residents are important for needing their support, but those people typically have no idea of what it takes to grow a city in an efficient design.     

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Hey everyone, 

 

I'm curious, does anyone know what the charlotte streetcar train will look like?  Will it look similar to the blue line train (i.e. similar color scheme and design)?  I just think if it looked similar, people would see it as an addition to the Blue line and not something altogether separate.  

 

 

Also, will any part of the gold line have it's own separate right-of-way lane or will the entire line be merged with car traffic?

Edited by illustration82
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The first phase will be solely in traffic. Not sure about the extensions though since I don't really follow things as closely here as others do.

 

I think the initial phase will also just use the existing trolley cars that are no longer in use. Once the line is extended, I imagine they'll move to a design that looks similar to or even the same as the light rail cars.

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It's unfortunate that they're choosing to use the old trolley cars for the first phase.  I think doing so will only give those who are already opposed to streetcar another reason to oppose the project. Part of the appeal of streetcar and light rail is the sleek modern design.  I fear that many will choose not to ride the first phase if they use trolley cars initially (which opposers of the project will undoubtedly use to build a case for why we don't need streetcar.)  Its my hope that council rethinks this decision an uses a modern streetcar design for the first phase as well.  I'm wiling to bet that if they do, ridership will be high from day one.

 

This is the only picture I could find online that shows how the car may look.  It's nice, but using the same design as the blue line would make the system look more cohesive. If thats even possible considering one is streetcar and the other is light rail.    

 

http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/index.php/gallery/?module=images&section=img_ctrl&img=529&file=medium

Edited by illustration82
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The "first phase" being the "starter" phase which is from Epicenter to Novant Hospital

The first phase extension will be modern streetcars.

There's really no need for a modern streetcar on a 2 mile route

 

 

While I agree with your mindset, I think ultimately it will hurt the streetcar advocates to run that old trolley train.  From a price point it makes sense, but to echo illustration82, it aligns with the idea of a streetcar being smalltime and rinky dink.  Using a modern tram rolling stock would show the naysayers that street car is much more than a fancy busline.  Running the old trolley is very short sighted.

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While I agree with your mindset, I think ultimately it will hurt the streetcar advocates to run that old trolley train. From a price point it makes sense, but to echo illustration82, it aligns with the idea of a streetcar being smalltime and rinky dink. Using a modern tram rolling stock would show the naysayers that street car is much more than a fancy busline. Running the old trolley is very short sighted.

Its a no-win situation really. They should have at least one modern streetcar.

But Either way, the detractors will say its empty and serves no purpose or it's a rinky dink trolley wih no purpose.

That's why (I know you know but for other people) the city was/is hell bent on getting the extension pushed so quickly. So the starter line and the extension would open up at the same time so modern streetcars would be used from the start. And the pro streetcar people in government acknowledge the fact that trolleys will give a bad image. I believe Foxx stressed that also.

Foxx will be in town this week so that'll be interesting

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I can't wait to hear what he has to say.  I'm really hoping that after his recused time frame is over, he gives a nod in our favor for funding.  I agree Hamlet, the extension needs to be built and opened around the same time or shortly after the starter phase is opened.  Its the only thing that makes sense.   Oh well, lets keep our fingers crossed.  

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It's unfortunate that they're choosing to use the old trolley cars for the first phase.  I think doing so will only give those who are already opposed to streetcar another reason to oppose the project. Part of the appeal of streetcar and light rail is the sleek modern design.  I fear that many will choose not to ride the first phase if they use trolley cars initially (which opposers of the project will undoubtedly use to build a case for why we don't need streetcar.)  Its my hope that council rethinks this decision an uses a modern streetcar design for the first phase as well.  I'm wiling to bet that if they do, ridership will be high from day one.

 

This is the only picture I could find online that shows how the car may look.  It's nice, but using the same design as the blue line would make the system look more cohesive. If thats even possible considering one is streetcar and the other is light rail.    

 

http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/index.php/gallery/?module=images&section=img_ctrl&img=529&file=medium

 

It's ironic that people opposed to spending money on transit would be opposed to use vehicles already owned by our system that are currently sitting in wearhouses.   Not to mention, these are 21st-century replicas, so while they have a nostalgic look which tourists and others tend to look favorably on, they have no difference in usability for transit from point A to B. 

 

We had very poorly built buses made to look like old trolleys purely to appeal to tourists and non-transit riders, and as a result, that bus line had the highest ridership in the city.   Of course, the main reason for that it is goes through dense neighborhoods and is fare free.   All 3 being attributes of the starter streetcar:  fare-free, on the same route, and a true trolley design rather than a faux bus trolley.     It will absolutely succeed at getting riders compared to the Gold Rush.

 

"That old trolley"  and "rinky dink" is incorrect.   These are the Gomaco REPLICAs built during the G.W. Bush era, not the old trolley from the Roosevelt era and pieced back together by volunteers during the Clinton era.      There is absolutely nothing wrong with these vehicles, and your stylistic preference for modern is equivalent in value in other people's stylistic preference to nostalgic and historic.   

 

Also, the city DID favor having the larger modern tram cars, but we used what we already owned.   Frankly, even once we buy the new trams in Phase II, they really ought to still use the replica trolleys on the longer line as well.  

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It's ironic that people opposed to spending money on transit would be opposed to use vehicles already owned by our system that are currently sitting in wearhouses.   Not to mention, these are 21st-century replicas, so while they have a nostalgic look which tourists and others tend to look favorably on, they have no difference in usability for transit from point A to B. 

 

We had very poorly built buses made to look like old trolleys purely to appeal to tourists and non-transit riders, and as a result, that bus line had the highest ridership in the city.   Of course, the main reason for that it is goes through dense neighborhoods and is fare free.   All 3 being attributes of the starter streetcar:  fare-free, on the same route, and a true trolley design rather than a faux bus trolley.     It will absolutely succeed at getting riders compared to the Gold Rush.

 

"That old trolley"  and "rinky dink" is incorrect.   These are the Gomaco REPLICAs built during the G.W. Bush era, not the old trolley from the Roosevelt era and pieced back together by volunteers during the Clinton era.      There is absolutely nothing wrong with these vehicles, and your stylistic preference for modern is equivalent in value in other people's stylistic preference to nostalgic and historic.   

 

Also, the city DID favor having the larger modern tram cars, but we used what we already owned.   Frankly, even once we buy the new trams in Phase II, they really ought to still use the replica trolleys on the longer line as well.  

 

 

Yes, we all know that the trolley cars are relatively new.  But a laymen will not.  They will see little difference between the Goldrush bus and this new transit line, unless there are some significant visible changes.  I would bet most that come to uptown in a couple years will not even know the streetcar is "new" if we use the trolley car rolling stock.  You are severely overestimating the urban development knowledge of our general populace.

 

Running the street car with modern rolling stock will help the general populace to liken the streetcar to the light rail.  90% of them will probably think it IS light rail.  It will feel much more disjointed with the old stock and I would be willing to wager, less popular.  

 

So you're missing the point.  It's not about the trolley stock BEING "rinky dink"...it's about them being perceived as such.  And frankly, perception is sometimes more important that reality.

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Burg, I agree 100%.  People relocating to Charlotte are looking for mass transit options, not trolley.  And while heavy rail is not an option, light rail and streetcar are.  In order for Charlotte to continue to appeal to young professionals living and relocating here, we need transit that has a modern appeal and not historic.  Don't get me wrong, the trolley style cars are adorable, but not what we need for moving Charlotte forward.  Let's think about it for a minute.  Why would one want to get off a Seimens S70 style car (such as the cars used on the Blue) just to transfer to a trolley style car.  That is mixed-matched and not an aesthetically cohesive design.  Your average rider probably won't make the connection and thus probably won't utilize it as frequently.  Besides, it is my understanding that the trolley cars that currently operate on wheels, will still be utilized  for tourist looking to move about down town were streetcar isn't offered.  

Edited by illustration82
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Burg, I agree 100%.  People relocating to Charlotte are looking for mass transit options, not trolley.  And while heavy rail is not an option, light rail and streetcar are.  In order for Charlotte to continue to appeal to young professionals living and relocating here, we need transit that has a modern appeal and not historic.  Don't get me wrong, the trolley style cars are adorable, but not what we need for moving Charlotte forward.  Let's think about it for a minute.  Why would one want to get off a Seimens S70 style car (such as the cars used on the Blue) just to transfer to a trolley style car.  That is mixed-matched and not an aesthetically cohesive design.  Your average rider probably won't make the connection and thus probably won't utilize it as frequently.  Besides, it is my understanding that the trolley cars that currently operate on wheels, will still be utilized  for tourist looking to move about down town were streetcar isn't offered.  

The trolleys that operated on the light rail tracks before light rail came about was a huge success with people/tourists. Will the trolleys on the streetcar line be just as popular? I can not say, but I hope that it will be. the trolleys should be popular with tourists at least.

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I fully admit that my behavior is not entirely rational but....

I have lived in Charlotte for 13 years and ridden public transit to Elizabeth exactly one time. Its not the case that I am anti-transit as I ride the blue line 3-4 times a week.

Since my leisure activity space is primarily defined by the area I can walk to from rail transit (or bike to on non-threatening routes) then the streetcar starter segment will cause me to make several trips per month to Elizabeth that I would not have otherwise made.

I can't be the only one who will have this response.

Edited by kermit
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I just read the CityLynx Gold Line recommendation. It does state that 3 of the existing Gomaco replica trolley vehicles will be used for phase one.  It also states that 7modern rail cars will be implemented once phase two is built.  The reason being, is to save on cost and give hybrid technology the opportunity to evolve before further investment. It does not however, say anything about the actual look of the car.  It would be nice if the cars were identical to the blue line cars, only GOLD.  Okay, one can dream right?!…lol  :thumbsup:

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Kermit, your behavior IS rational. Many powers that be have always considered buses a functional equivalent of rail modes of transit. But the reality is that quality is so dramatically bad on the buses that it is demoralizing.

I do my best to ride transit when possible, but I just cannot stand it. I have posted a rant on it before but the entire experience is just as unpleasant as can be.

When you take all joy out of an experience, you eventually get left with customers so low in expectations because they need to do use something. Take Walmart on Black Friday, those people actually need those 27c washcloths (the biggest selling item on BF this year).

Streetcars may not be the best possible solution to that problem, but they are a well proven solution. The mode itself does bring joy to many people, the trolleys of old times or reminders of a nice trip to Europe or SF. They ride smoothly on the rails. The whole investment in a permanent line gives a sense of stability that somehow (along with many other factors) bring the middle class to the market. Then once the customer base is economically diverse, it has no stigma and people begin to behave more appropriately.

Part of the bad part of riding the bus is being next to trashy people acting trashy. We all know what that means because we have seen it in our lives. There is something socially uplifting about investing in something and having a socially diverse population use it, people actually do start acting more appropriately. That can be shown of a school facility, public housing converted to mixed housing, and neighborhoods overall being "gentrified" but really just becoming economically diverse.

People act better on a streetcar than a bus, and doubly so when not subjected to horrifying green lighting, bouncing and tschh-tschh-tschh, and toxic diesel fumes spewing over you as you depart.

There may be ways to invest enough to make the bus a joyful experience, but no transit systems do that. The only hope for a proper, diverse, unstigmatizing transit infrastructure is rail, the least costly being streetcar.

The gold rush has succeeded over most bus lines being trying to inject some joy in it with the tourist trolley look, and lowering expectations by behind free and frequent. But it is still extremely unsafisfying to ride.

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Buses are more widely used by the middle class in big cities because they occupy a different role. When you have a multimodal public transit system, buses are seen as one component of a larger network. In DC for instance, buses are usually circulator routes used to connect neighborhoods without transit or on different metro lines (ex. Georgetown Circulator), express routes, or neighborhood routes that fan out from metro stops. In cities or with fewer modes of transit, buses are used in a traditional manner. As its mass transit system matures, Charlotte will likely retool buses to complement light rail and streetcar routes. This may mean a bus that picks passengers up from Presbyterian Hospital and drops them to parts of surrounding neighborhoods that are not within walking distance to the stop. When this happens, buses will slowly start to lose their stigma and will start be seen as a shortcut rather than a last resort. A trolley may make the streetcar seem more welcoming, but economic and quality of life considerations will drive its wider use regardless of how it looks. 

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