Bus versus Streetcar

The bus versus streetcar debate became personal in Washington DC when a Megabus rammed a platform for the H Street streetcar. The crash put the streetcar out of service for several hours, and that particular platform for many days.

As if in retaliation, a streetcar rear ended a DC bus, injuring ten transit riders. There were only eight passengers on the bus, so the other two must have been on the streetcar and the Antiplanner wouldn’t be surprised if they were the only passengers on board.

Of course, the entire streetcar system was put out of commission while the messes were cleaned from each of the accidents. If only they had a vehicle that could pass one that was stationary because of an accident or breakdown. Maybe someday someone will invent one.


6 thoughts on “Bus versus Streetcar

  1. OFP2003

    That poor old trolley wouldn’t stand a chance against even a modest civil disobedience action. While almost no one would notice if the same action were taken against the WMATA busses. I guess street trolley’s should be compared against civic amenities like the San Antonio River Walk. Which does make me wonder how those boat rides on the River Walk compare to the DC Street Trolley. In the one meeting we’ve had you came right out saying “the elites” love trains and that’s what they want. I wonder if there is a way of evaluating or measuring support for street trolleys to see how much support is because it makes you “feel” like your city (or neighborhood) is more cool than other cities. – Like the San Antonio River Walk.

  2. prk166

    Any word on if the DC tram driver passed the post-accident drug test? Was this a mechanical failure? Or should this be added to the long list of examples of the absence of a safety-first culture at WMTA?

  3. LazyReader

    If DC wants to take advantage of an emphasis of improving transit, for less money; for what they’re spending now on the Silver line…they could buy a fleet of used Mercedes and BMW’s and carry every transit rider across the city. Since Google has yet to invent an algorithm for sarcasm detection online, I’ll save those the trouble.

    Washington DC is a messed up city, designed by an eccentric French architect who was friends with George Washington…..(i.e. America’s first example of nepotism) his design was to mimic the layout of Paris. But he afforded far larger avenues as “Grand Walkways” unfortunately they easily accommodated the horse carriage…….and by the 20th century they easily switched to accommodate the car. And the short widely spaced buildings stretch the destinations. DC has many great walking paths for exercise sake, but it’s nightmarish to navigate on foot; the wide avenues are difficult to cross, the traffic circles are obstacle courses and the grand plazas built largely on federal property act as deterents. Dignified public spaces abound but good luck finding a dry cleaner, cheap restaurant or grocery store. DC is urban sprawl masquerading as a city. The DC heights of buildings act of 1910 limits building height.

    I’ve said it before the downside to rail or fixed transit it only goes where it’s been routed, a single artery that only transports from A to B and having just one artery is not a healthy organism. Transit as they propose is monolithic, built to a specific size, specific scale, specific timeframe. Where as the automobile and the street grid are a cellular organism. Look up Dr. John von Neuman and his study of cellular automata; in comparative biology. A multicellular organism does not thrive on a fixed number of cells, instead it responds to stimuli by producing more cells to accommodate a need. The city is the organism, the cells are cars, personal demand is the stimuli. When the system encounters an effluent, it produces more cells (cars) to accomodate the stimuli (people needing to move) or produces special cells (mutli person vehicles like buses or vanpools) to accommodate specific circumstance. In nature all stimuli are confronted with the production of cells. If there’s more sunlight, more photosynthetic cells are produced, if there’s a surge in water, more water storage cells are produced. In the inspiring words of Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus “look to mother nature for the best of everything”
    Nature has had billions of years to figure out how to manufacture, design, construct, demolish, recycle, handle waste, transport and provide energy. But enough nature BS.

    We don’t even need buses, a massive expensive 40 plus foot long behemoth. We need mini buses, one’s better able to navigate the twisting turning lopsided city streets and take up very little space. It’s a common occurrence that other than rush hour, transit vehicles throughout the day are barely half full. So why hassle with the cost of a big vehicle when a small one we can fill to capacity.

  4. prk166

    @LazyReader, your DC comments remind me that I’ve wondered if BRT and LRT and trams would fair better if they could offer a route that otherwise isn’t so easily travelled. In Denver, it would be a robust east-west corridor through the Tech Center. In DC, it sounds like if it could cut through those blocks in a way not easily travelled, it would help a lot. Of course that would be near impossible given how property owners would understandably react + the huge right of way acquisition costs for DC. SO they fall back to the already well covered and easily travelled existing corridors.

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