Some great ideas have been generated from the DMM forum discussion about the proposed Dayton streetcar project and we wanted to summarize the discussions for those who want a brief overview. Please keep the ideas flowing on the forum… we will update these posts with the new ideas on a regular basis.
A lot of debate has ensued as to whether or not a street car system should be a priority in the Greater Downtown Dayton Plan. The streetcar system being proposed would initially connect University of Dayton and Brown Street to the Central Business District. An overview of the plan appeared in a September, 2008 DDN article. Following are excerpts from that article:
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
The co-chair of a task force seeking to establish a streetcar loop between downtown Dayton and the University of Dayton area remains optimistic despite a consultant’s study that set a high price tag for the project.
Last year, Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority officials estimated the 4-mile loop could be built for about $40 million and would cost about $700,000 a year to run.
Consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff looked at other streetcar systems and estimated the system would cost $125 million to build and $2 million a year to operate.
Mike Ervin, who co-chairs the streetcar task force with GDRTA Executive Director Mark Donaghy, said the consultant’s study is important in that it gives streetcar proponents a clear picture of the challenge they face.
Ervin said where streetcar lines have gone in, a sense of excitement and renewal has followed. Retail, restaurant and entertainment venues tend to spring up close to the tracks, which in turn stimulates investment in other properties.
Ervin said streetcars can make living in an urban center more attractive because people can hop on and off a streetcar to get around. That reduces the need for cars and parking.
“Think of what it could mean to an area like South Park,” Ervin said. “For Dayton, this could be one of the biggest economic boosts the city has had ever.”
The headways (wait time between trains) would be 10 minutes.
The city put this project in the list of top 15 projects for Dayton that was presented in Washington, DC for consideration in the economic stimulous package.
Some concerns that were noted on the forum include the following:
- Streetcars should be a practical alternative to certain bus routes or should fill a need for transportation that buses can’t. If it is more focused on tourism, people may only ride it once.
- Our downtown is really small and walkable… that money could be better used elsewhere.
- It seems redundant when we have an adequate public transportation system in place already
- The idea of using it as an economic development driver for downtown would be not as effective as generally using the money to promote more residential developments downtown
- We need to have a critical mass of people downtown to warrant a streetcar system, and that does not yet exist.
Supporters had the following to say:
- New cost estimates are being determined and the initial cost assessment for the initial route is $48 million
- The proposed plan would be the first route – continuing with the plan to include connecting WPAFB and WSU would really make it a valuable proposition. Connecting Sinclair to the initial route would also make a lot of sense.
- A street car from Brown Street to Downtown is a lot more simple than navigating the bus system and would be more frequently used by students and others
- Cities such as Portland Oregon have seen significant residential and retail development around street car stations. The proposal is more about economic development than moving people.
- Urban decline is directly linked to cities abandoning their streetcars for the automobile. Rebuilding the streetcar systems likely would reinvigorate urban development.
- The green/environmental aspects of a street car should also be considered, as well as the impact on parking
It was noted that rail connecting Dayton, Cinci and Columbus would be very beneficial too. Some conversation ensued about the 3-C passenger rail proposals. It was noted that the cost for this is $20 million per mile vs. $10 million per mile for light rail/street cars. The construction process for some streetcar projects have been designed to minimize disruption to street businesses by completing a city block of tracks each week.
Some conversation ensued about using electric buses with a street car look (but not requiring tracks) gained some traction as an alternative as well.