Thursday, December 3, 2015

Fort Worth's Streetcar Line Will Not Be Ready To Ride Anytime Soon

This blogging is going to be the latest in our popular series of bloggings about something read in a west coast online news source which would be surprising to read in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

In this case the screen cap came from today's Seattle Times. An article about Seattle's latest streetcar line being almost ready to ride.

A paragraph from the article...

Voters approved the $134 million line in the 2008 Sound Transit 2 sales-tax measure. Service was supposed to begin in early 2014, connecting next year’s Capitol Hill light-rail station to the existing International District/Chinatown Station and Pioneer Square.

Imagine that.

Voters voted on a transit measure.

The Seattle/Tacoma/Everett tri-county zone seems to pass a lot of transit measures. The voters must see the value in improving public transit, making it easy to get around without needing to find a parking space.

The key to successful public transit is not having long waits to hop aboard. Currently, the new streetcar line is practicing its regular schedule, with trolleys running about every 10 minutes, but with no passengers onboard.

This is an electric streetcar powered system, with overhead power lines. The streetcars are hybrids, like some electric cars. Going downhill, braking power is converted to stored battery power to be burned when the streetcar is back heading up steep First Hill.

A couple years ago Fort Worth for a short time toyed with the idea of having a streetcar line run from downtown, south to the Magnolia Avenue zone, if I am remembering correctly. This project was somehow associated with America's Biggest Boondoggle,  then still only known as the Trinity River Vision. I suspect the association with the inept Boondoggle is part of what doomed Fort Worth's attempt to have a modern streetcar line.

I remember a sample streetcar was shipped in from Portland. Was it one of Portland's MAX train cars? I don't remember. I do remember Portland's MAX transit system is not known as a streetcar system. I remember that which was brought to display in Fort Worth did not look like a streetcar to me.

It would greatly behoove Fort Worth to build a modern streetcar line, looping from downtown to the Stockyards to the Cultural District, passing by, or going over, The Boondoggle's stunning signature bridges, if those complicated feats of engineering ever finish getting built.

Imagine what a boost such a transit line would be to Fort Worth. It would be transformative. In a real way, not an imaginary, hope it works way, like that vision The Boondoggle sees.

Can you imagine a forward thinking transit proposal being put before Fort Worth voters? A real vision for the future? And the voters approving the proposal?

No, I can't quite imagine that happening either.

But, it sure would be a good thing for Fort Worth if it did....

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