9 Reasons to Expand the Skyway as a Streetcar

November 23, 2015 8 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Like it, love it or hate it, it's decision time concerning what to do with the Skyway's future. Here's 9 reasons why the Skyway should be converted into a lightweight streetcar.

4. Capital Cost

In suburban Boston, the MBTA operates PCC vehicles on their Ashmont–Mattapan High Speed Line because the infrastructure can't support the weight of heavier modern vehicles. Sound familiar?

When considering expansion, money is always going to be a concern. The JTA estimates extending the Skyway as an elevated APM to destinations like EverBank would cost as much as $30 million per mile to construct. While recent modern streetcar systems have been built at similar prices, heritage streetcars are significantly cheaper. Earlier this year, the M-Line Trolley was expanded to Downtown Dallas at the cost of $15 million per mile.

In other words, if we had $30 million to spend on expansion, going the APM route, we'd use all that cash just to expand the Skyway to reach EverBank Field. If the Skyway system was repurposed with cheaper heritage streetcars, a $30 million expansion would not only get us EverBank Field, but also San Marco Square and Brooklyn.

5. Capacity

A crowded Skyway station during One Spark. The capacity of an existing Skyway vehicle is 56 passengers.

Capacity is a major problem with the existing Skyway APM vehicles, largely overlooked by the general public. They would not be able to handle the crowd, even if the Skyway is extended to EverBank Field. Anyone who took advantage of the Skyway during One Spark should understand this. When comparing the capacity of existing Skyway APM vehicles to the three heritage streetcar examples mentioned earlier in this article, this is clearly the case:

Peter Witt Trolley: 130 passengers/vehicle

Melbourne Trolley: 76 passengers/vehicle

Presidents' Conference Committee (PCC) Streetcar: 113 passengers/vehicle

Thus, any real discussion of expansion opportunities is also going to have to include vehicles that are designed to carry larger amounts of passengers.

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