Author Topic: The Secret Scam of Streetcars  (Read 20613 times)

Ocklawaha

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Re: The Secret Scam of Streetcars
« Reply #90 on: February 22, 2016, 01:14:51 PM »
Here's my take on what happened in Washington DC, it's quite different from the public-in-love with the bus tripe in the video.

Capital Transit was formed by merger in 1933, at the time it was considered one of America's 'model' transit operations. From 1937-1946 it completely modernized it's fleet with PCC Streetcars, the latest models then available and it carried hundreds of millions of people during the World War II years.

A change in US Security Law's was actively pursued by General Motors (remember them? The 'hard to kill conspiracy myth?')
Streetcars were generally part of the nations major electric utility companies in effect subsidizing any loss from transportation through the generation of electricity. GM clearly couldn’t force the utilities to sell its transit lines, but the Federal Government sure could. And it did, through the passage of the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935. This is contained in Title 15 Chapter 2 (c) and it is an incredibly complex law. But it had the suspiciously useful (to GM) effect of stripping transit lines away from their utilities and mandating them out on their own, to either live or die.

After the war, the new securities laws forced Capital Transit's parent company to separate its transit operations from its electric power operations. The streetcar company was purchased by Louis Wolfson a scrap dealer and investor that snatched up a company with $7 million in cash reserves for a mere $2.2 million. Then Wolfson set about stripping the cash reserves and refused to maintain or improve the property. Not willing to make the heavy rail investment that was essential to relieving congestion of its cars in front of the White House. Accordingly, the company sought to replace Benning number 10–12 line rail cars with buses on different streets to relieve rail congestion. PUBLIC PROTESTS AGAINST LOSS OF STREETCAR SERVICE were overcome, and the change was made. Ridership began a sharp decline, forcing Wolfson to severely truncate Maryland service to keep solvent.

As might be expected Wolfson also got cross-wise of the transit unions resulting in a 51-day strike in 1955. The now-despised Wolfson agreed to sell the company.

For a time, no responsible new operator could be found, but eventually the owner of Trans-Caribbean Airlines, O. Roy Chalk, came forward with $600,000 down and the promise to pay $2.5 million cash in two weeks, as well as assuming the outstanding debt. He used the company's own cash to buy the system. Finding that streetcars were more efficient than buses, tries to resist city pressure (pressed by the auto lobby) to convert the system. He even air conditions one streetcar, but city officials, the Senate District Committee and the Washington Post are adamant. This buyer then sought relief from the rail abandonment order, but to no avail. In 1963, rail service was terminated, and ridership continued on a 25 year decline until the low point in 1973, 67 percent below 1948 levels, despite the opening of the Shirley busway to suburban Virginia. In 1976, rapid rail transit came to the area, and ridership has doubled.

JaxJersey-licious

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Re: The Secret Scam of Streetcars
« Reply #91 on: February 22, 2016, 02:37:52 PM »
^^^^^Some very thought-provoking counterpoints to the DC streetcar argument. But let's get back to modern times with the current H St DC Streetcar that's gaining less headway and more headaches. I can't see how succesful it would be in it's current iteration especially down H St. and I should probably direct my questions to a local transit website there to see if any of these options and scenarios were considered.

To stop traffic from halting streetcars, why not put H St on a road diet and make the streetcar lane exclusive to streetcars and busses? That would make the most sense to me although H St. is heavily utilized.

Related to that, Did they consider making H St. one-way and change G or "Eye" St. to go the opposite way to deal with the switch? Oh I'm sure the residents there would be marching to the capitol with lighted torches and pitchforks at that suggestion but still.

Speaking of road diets...Did they consider the possibility of a "sidewalk diet" to give a liitle more room for streetcars from hitting parked cars? I know, just what the small restauraunt and cafe owners need. Any more pitchforks and torches left?

I can only imagine the clusterf@#& situation if it were to snow more than 5 inches, did the streetcar planners? Some of you are familiar with the fact that snowbanks from freshly plowed streets that are supposed to go on the sidewalk but after significant snowfall inevitably spills over to side parking lanes where people tend to park around them. But with the streetcar in the way that would be impossible and you just can't carry that much snow away.

Since emergencies do happen that could back up streetcar right-of-way, have they considered installing temporary switches at certain intervals that could make streetcars move around temporary jams? They could be coordinated with regular traffic signals or done manually to prevent multi-streetcar backups.

Needless to say, hope there will be countless lessons learned from this.


Ocklawaha

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Re: The Secret Scam of Streetcars
« Reply #92 on: February 23, 2016, 12:50:00 PM »
Leave it to Washington DC to take a great idea and screw it up beyond all recognition. I would hope this is more of a lesson on ''what not to do,' than it is a lesson of 'Don't do it.'  BTW, many streetcar systems of the past had heavy rail based snow removal equipment, a problem Jacksonville would never encounter.

Ocklawaha

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Re: The Secret Scam of Streetcars
« Reply #93 on: February 23, 2016, 05:22:07 PM »
Please check out this short video for a AUDIO FACT CHECK!

https://youtu.be/G43aaYP4tPM


I-10east

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Re: The Secret Scam of Streetcars
« Reply #94 on: August 11, 2017, 05:04:01 PM »
Predictably Vox has a more positive outlook for streetcars than ReasonTV. Mainly saying that the streetcars will be successful if it goes hand and hand with a ridiculous amount of new adjoining development.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RftqoygXXHk&t=3s

Sonic101

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Re: The Secret Scam of Streetcars
« Reply #95 on: August 13, 2017, 11:04:28 PM »
I guess I don't get it. I didn't see any part of that video that displayed Vox having a positive outlook on streetcars

thelakelander

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Re: The Secret Scam of Streetcars
« Reply #96 on: August 14, 2017, 05:27:28 AM »
Seems like a hit piece or one that forgets about the impact on proper planning but economic development is a sound reason for investment in improving public transit options. That's basically why we also invest in more expensive road projects like the First Coast Expressway and SR 9B.  It's the same reason many desire redevelopment like Cowford Chophouse would prefer JEA to upgrade its infrastructure under downtown streets. The peice would be better and more informational if they focused on identifying why some projects work and others have not, instead of tossing an entire technology in the same boat.
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