Streetcars Are Transit

What is transit?

We love this definition by the California Transit Association: it’s the freedom of mobility.

Streetcars are most definitely transit. We often reference Kansas City as our mentor to the south, and Portland is usually cited as the gold-standard streetcar city. But we want to introduce you to what might be the streetcar capital of the world…

Welcome to Budapest

The capital of Hungary has the busiest tram network in the world: more than one million people ride the city’s 36 tram routes each day. When you consider that Budapest’s population is just under 1.8 million people, with the metro area containing 3.3 million, that’s impressive ridership.

How do they do it?

  • Dedicated road space
  • Streetcars have traffic priority
  • Many convenient stops with frequent service
  • Culture shift from cars to public transit

Most people in Budapest rely on transit as their primary means to get around. Only 42 percent of Hungarians own cars according to a recent survey, and that percentage is probably even lower in Budapest.

While Omaha would have to go through a lot of infrastructure changes to be able to support a transit network like Budapest’s, it’s an interesting case study given the similar sizes of our two cities (as opposed to say, Tokyo, which has more than 9 million people who also rely less on cars).

The 3.3-mile proposed streetcar route through the center of our urban core is the first step to making Omaha a more transit-friendly destination and place to live, work and play.