Streetcars: A perfect Solution for D.C.
Sierra Club strongly supports DDOT's original proposal for the development of a 40 to 50-mile streetcar system.
The Sierra Club supports sustainable and energy-efficient land use and transportation planning. For urban areas like Washington, this means making our neighborhoods more walkable and bike-friendly, with a mix of uses, and linking neighborhoods with a network of convenient transit options. By doing so, we provide residents with choices that allow them to drive less while enjoying the benefits of a vibrant transit-oriented community. Further, such communities use less energy, reduce congestion, and produce less air pollution and global warming pollution. The U.S. Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement's (signed by Mayor Fenty) top two recommended actions for cities to reduce their CO2 outputs are:
In June 2004, DDOT published the Transit Improvements Alternatives Analysis Needs Assessment. This well-researched document called for a 40- to 50-mile street car system in the District and showed a need for transit improvements on a number of corridors, most notably along Georgia Avenue NW from Silver Spring and from the Minnesota Avenue Metro Station to Downtown via H Street NE. Both corridors:
Build-out plan is too little, too late
The Needs Assessment clearly spelled out the need for premium transit along numerous corridors in the present, yet current DDOT plans call for a significantly scaled back system that would not be complete until 2030, including 13 years of idle tracks on H Street NE and no streetcars on Georgia Avenue NW until 2030!
Streetcars Offer Many Benefits
The Sierra Club firmly believes that streetcars have great potential to address congestion, spur economic development and reduce automobile emission in the District strongly supports DDOT's original proposal for the development of a 40 to 50-mile streetcar system. Cities throughout the world have greatly benefited from the development of streetcar systems or the modernization of legacy systems.
While the current subway system does an excellent job of providing access to downtown and other regional employment centers, it does not always meet the needs of those moving within the District and it does not serve all neighborhoods. While the bus system addresses those shortfalls in some instances, many routes struggle to meet demand or are plagued by congestion that hurts their effectiveness. In addition, despite heavy ridership, many bus routes traverse corridors that have waited decades for the revitalization and economic development we have seen along subway lines.
Write Mayor Fenty and the City Council and tell them to put DDOT’s original 40- to 50-mile streetcar plan back on track.
The US Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement calls on cities to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions through, among other actions, creation of compact, walkable communities and investments in transit. DDOT’s original 40- to 50-mile streetcar plan would go a long way towards creating such communities and improving transit service, reducing car use and reducing carbon emissions in the District. In addition, streetcars would help revitalize neighborhoods and connect District residents to jobs and services. Several corridors identified for streetcars, including H Street/Benning Road NE and Georgia Avenue NW suffer from the longest transit travel times to employment centers and are served by overcrowded bus routes that struggle to meet demand. They cry out for premium rail transit.
I am therefore concerned that DDOT’s streetcar plans have been scaled back and appear to have stalled and I urge you to put those plans back on track. I particularly urge you to work to implement streetcar service on H Street/Benning Road NE, where current DDOT plans call fro 13 years of idle tracks.
Given the multiple challenges of global warming, energy security, air pollution, congestion and neighborhood revitalization and the power of rail transit to help address these challenges locally, the District needs to build a 40- to 50-mile streetcar network as soon as possible.
last modified 6/7/2007 6:24:16 AM by Bradley Green; article ID: 93
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