Streetcars = Fewer Cars on the Road

Earlier this week, Omaha experienced a snowfall in the middle of the day, grinding traffic to a halt in many major intersections.

How could a streetcar have helped?

First, streetcars operate in all kinds of weather. See how Kansas City’s streetcar team handles adverse weather.

Second, in a city like Omaha, every person on the streetcar could mean one less car on the road. And this is one category where streetcars have buses beat: the average bus capacity is 60 passengers (an articulated bus can handle 95), and the average streetcar capacity is 160 passengers.

Kansas City’s average daily ridership in 2017 was 5,645 people. Can you imagine Omaha’s urban core with nearly 6,000 less cars on the road every day?

Will People Really Ride the Streetcar?

Yes, people will really ride the streetcar.

And, people will still ride the bus. And drive cars, ride bikes, walk, skateboard, etc.

The streetcar isn’t meant to replace any mode of transportation, it’s meant to enhance our current offerings. If more people are riding public transportation, it will allow for more growth.

Plus, streetcars are easy to ride, and they’re proven to attract riders to public transportation. Studies have shown in cities that offer both rail and bus services, rail transit attracts anywhere from 34 to 43 percent more riders than equivalent bus service alone.

Buses will always be important and will continue to serve a wider area, but streetcars can help workers, residents and visitors get around midtown and downtown, and will significantly enhance the area with increased economic development.

This article does a nice job of explaining the advantages of streetcars and buses.

What do the experts say?

The Heartland 2050 Regional Transit Vision outlines five necessary factors for successful public transportation:

1. High frequency to improve predictability

2. Land use that provides the critical mass needed to make transit work

3. Direct routes with fewer stops to get riders where they’re going – quickly

4. New technologies to add coverage of the region

5. Options, like buses, bus rapid transit and streetcars, that are appropriate for different situations

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