Minneapolis should skip streetcars

Streetcars: They’re hot right now. However, in Minneapolis, in 2014, in the places they are proposed, they are also probably not a good idea. Or at least, they are certainly not a good use of hundreds of millions of dollars in transit funding that’s already too scarce and ill-budgeted.

Will not improve mobility

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The specifics will vary from city to city and project to project, but at its core, the entire concept of a “modern streetcar” is to trick middle class people into getting on board with local route bus-quality transit service. Again, the specifics will vary, but that will generally be the case.

The starter streetcar proposal for Nicollet and Central Avenues in Minneapolis, budgeted in the neighborhood of $200 million dollars and recently fleshed out quite a bit (pdf), has single streetcar vehicles mixed in with traffic stopping every couple blocks. The project pagenotes that the streetcars will have 7.5 minute peak headways. The vehicles will be a bit larger than the articulated buses Metro Transit uses on its busier routes. The streetcar does not fully replace local bus service, and the Route 10, 11, 17, and 25 will presumably still travel along Nicollet Mall, and I would reckon the 18 will as well (forcing a transfer at Lake Street would be dumb, but I didn’t go to grad school). In any case, the streetcar will regularly be bunched up behind several buses on Nicollet Mall, to say nothing of cars and snow and other obstacles elsewhere on the route.

Hundreds of millions of dollars to be held up behind this Toyota Matrix.

Development potential remains theoretical

What’s funny is that people appear to realize that streetcars aren’t a significant mobility improvement over existing buses, and so they’ve been sold as, at best, a real estate development tool, and at worst, a tinker toy for our fairly minimal tourist population. The thing, though, is that no one is learning the lesson of the past ten years, where we’ve had very high quality transit service with the Blue Line, and a pretty insignificant amount of transit oriented development has actually occurred. There have been a couple projects, one with “station” in the name even, but there are still surface parking lots and literal open fieldsadjacent to many stations. The area around Lake Street Station hasn’t taken off, there’s agiant surface parking lot on Hennepin Avenue next to the Warehouse District Station, and it took a decade to put something a little underwhelming on the parking lot next to the Nicollet Mall Station, which is probably the exact spot on the graph where the “transit accessible” and “high value downtown real estate” lines intersect.

An excellent case study: 3A vs. 3C on the Southwest Corridor! (*ducks*) In 2009, we opted to skip Uptown when plotting out our actual transit mobility improvements, and you know what’s happened since 2009? The area along the Midtown Greenway through Uptown has exploded with new development! Thousands of new units, without any transit improvements.

The thing is, in the Twin Cities, it’s not actually that hard or expensive to drive. People complain, because people complain about everything, but I was in DC a couple weekends ago, and it took two hours by car to get to Reagan on a Sunday afternoon. By and large, people who can afford newly-constructed housing in the Twin Cities are going to want to have a car, and as such, transit accessibility isn’t all that important. Which isn’t to say that we should be planning to accommodate that, but we also shouldn’t be building an transit project entirely because of rail bias–which is what this is, and it’s kind of the same idea. “People don’t want to take the bus, so we’ll replace the bus with an expensive streetcar that essentially replicates the same service.”

And on rail bias, hey, I take transit in the Nicollet-Central corridor everyday, and it is seldom fun. It is at capacity during rush hour. In the back of the bus, there are chickens clucking and babies crying and me sweating and people with the fingers cut off their gloves huddled around barrels with trash fires in them. Out the window, you can see SouthWest Transit buses, two-thirds full, speeding towards Eden Prairie. Even in the morning, and I work pretty early, it’s standing room only; in the afternoon it’s a giant mass of humanity and baby strollers and heightened emotions.

So what happens when we put a streetcar there, and suddenly it’s attractive to Target employees who live in those hypothetical TOD apartments at Lake and Nicollet? It will be at its functional capacity the day it opens. We will have added yet another line on our map — though this one will probably be thinner than the Blue and Green Lines (maybe even dotted?) — but we will have not improved transit service for actual transit users.

Operation$

Most (71%) of Metro Transit’s budget goes towards paying its employees to do things, and about half of their 3,000 employees are bus drivers. I usually like to throw around capital costs (hundreds of millions of dollars!) to make points, but it’s also worth pointing out that, per rider, streetcars are more expensive to operate than the next couple higher rungs of transit service.

City of Minneapolis
Each mode and configuration has one driver. Streetcar is spelled incorrectly.

Somewhere in there, there’s an overall system argument to be made about operating costs and fiscal responsibility.

So?

The whole business with the fantasy maps and what ifs has certainly gotten old, but in this case, we’re putting $200 million dollars of shiny bus on top of what really ought to be the north-south transit spine of our growing city. Someone, somewhere, heard about streetcars and that Portland was doing them, and so now we have to also do them. But we don’t! We can do better, actually! This plan is very 1999, but it is 2014, and it will be 2029 very quickly. Tens of thousands of people have moved into Minneapolis since someone first wondered aloud “what about doing streetcars?” and slapped it on Nicollet Avenue. Tens of thousands more Minneapolitans are on their way. I, for one, would pay a 1% sales tax to fund real, live transit; I would probably pay a 5% sales tax for it. That’s on top of the extra sales taxes I pay, as a downtown resident, to support regional amenities downtown. I would probably volunteer to spend hours with a shovel digging a tunnel under Nicollet or Hennepin Avenues, thereby saving hundreds of dollars on gym memberships.

Gang, let’s build a subway.

This post was written by Nick Magrino and originally published on streets.mn. Follow streets.mn on Twitter: @streetsmn.

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Comments (27)

  1. Submitted by David Frenkel on 10/10/2014 - 11:43 am.

    Traffic

    Not great reporting or opinion piece. As a former resident of Washington, DC I can relate to traffic problems of a big city but this article mentioned 2 hours to get to Reagan National airport. DC is a large metropolitan area and travel from one end to the other can take some time but 2 hours must have had something going on like an accident or Obama out for church blocking traffic. There is actually the light rail metro that goes to Reagan so not sure why if you were staying in DC why you would drive especially since Reagan Airport is pretty confusing for a tourist.

    • Submitted by Nick Magrino on 10/10/2014 - 05:24 pm.

      Yeah I mean this is basically a recap of a short, in-person debate that happened a couple of weeks ago. There are many more things to be said. In any case, you may want to check the link with the Reagan anecdote, and also, remember not to confuse streetcars, light rail, and heavy rail. An experience using the DC Metro isn’t really comparable to a Minneapolis streetcar or our existing light rail lines.

  2. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 10/10/2014 - 12:11 pm.

    Trains

    Wait a minute here. The author goes on endlessly about how horrible trains are and how much they’ll cost, and then at the end says “Gang, let’s build a subway.” Does he have any idea how much that will cost? There was a lot of poo-pooing in this article, which is long on “I hate this” and short on facts and figures, all in the name of making a case for subway.

    Yet there’s not one single figure or cost/benefit analysis on subways.

    I’m all for looking at an either/or scenario, but this doesn’t add anything to the dialog.

    • Submitted by jake Gardner on 10/10/2014 - 01:21 pm.

      mostly made sense to me

      I think what the author was getting at is that streetcars would simply replicate buses. But subways would run unobstructed, and therefore would be far faster.
      Yes subways are massively expensive but if Minneapolis is to grow in the future we need a real-deal transit system.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/10/2014 - 03:17 pm.

        Subway

        I thought he was trying to be funny.

        I have heard that the Twin Cities are bad candidates for a subway due to the relatively high water table. Does anyone better versed in geology or civil engineering know if that’s true?

        • Submitted by Nick Magrino on 10/10/2014 - 06:05 pm.

          *I’m not funny, unfortunately.

          I’d always heard the opposite due to favorable geology–limestone over sandstone? the river seems to drill through it easily enough–though I’m not sure about the water table. Both downtowns sit on bluffs above the river.

        • Submitted by Joey Senkyr on 10/11/2014 - 04:26 pm.

          Subway

          The subway under the airport seems to work pretty well. No idea if the geology is significantly different by the time you get to Downtown, though.

      • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 10/10/2014 - 05:03 pm.

        Subways

        I understand the benefits of subways, especially in our climate. The author though didn’t make any of those points in his article. It was all a gripe about streetcars and then at the very end “oh, we should have subways instead.”

        My point was to get him or her to step up the game and actually make those points in the article rather than simply grumble along for a couple of paragraphs.

    • Submitted by Alex Cecchini on 10/10/2014 - 02:04 pm.

      Given

      the Green Line’s clear ability to blow ridership projects out of the water (we’re at 2030 projections in month 4 of operation), we could have built heavy rail underground through downtown Minneapolis, St Paul, the U, and maybe at Snelling and vastly improved speed between stations. Platforms could have been made long enough for more train cars to handle future ridership, and grade separation would have made running at higher frequencies possible (interlining downtown Mpls with the Blue Line at grade makes anything but 10 minute headways pretty much impossible).

      Realistically, downtown Minneapolis should have both a N-S and E-W underground transit spine, which would be a meaningful improvement in mobility for existing riders as well as enough capacity for future ones (which a streetcar won’t really provide). Nick has said it before, but building a $200m streetcar on Nicollet basically guarantees we won’t have the political will for another 30+ years to come back and spend any more money on the same corridor, and that’s a big problem if you’re thinking long-term about how well a streetcar will handle its demand.

  3. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 10/10/2014 - 01:11 pm.

    I agree that not much development has happened along

    the Blue Line, but what the best lines do is run through places that are already starting to develop and make the area more attractive. Portland’s Westside MAX and Yellow Line are good examples.

    The Blue Line is running through an area where, for long stretches, houses and businesses were knocked down in anticipation of Highway 55 being turned into a freeway.

  4. Submitted by THOMAS MAUS on 10/10/2014 - 02:37 pm.

    More buses? More cars? A subway?! Are you serious?

    Referring to the streetcar proposal, the author writes, “This plan is very 1999, but it is 2014, and it will be 2029 very quickly.”

    Wrong. The plan is very 1899. Streetcars were operating successfully in the Twin Cities from 1890 through 1954. At the time, it was considered one of the best transit systems in the world. I remember well because I was a Minneapolis kid when the baffling decision was made to dismantle the entire system and replace it with smelly buses and private cars.

    Now we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to partially remediate that myopic mistake. Let’s not screw it up this time around.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 10/13/2014 - 01:39 pm.

      Technology

      To be fair, cars are also 19th century technology.

      The notion that streetcars are drafty old rattletraps ignores the advancements that have been made in both car construction and method of use in the past sixty to one hundred years. Just like cars, they’ve come a long way, baby!

      I think subways are a good idea, especially in our cold climate. But I have to wonder if the political climate isn’t even colder. Just look at all the difficulties we’ve had getting the blue and green lines in place and the opposition that the SWLRT is getting. Some people complain about the route placement, but there are also others who complain about the cost of the line. How much resistance will they through out for a subway line, which will be much more expensive than light rail? New York is putting in a new subway line that will be two miles in length and cost $4.5 billion. By contrast, the starter segment of the Nicollet streetcar line will be 3.4 miles in length and a lot longer if they do the entire project.

      Just doing a line from Minneapolis to St. Paul is eight miles, which means you’re looking at $18 billion for that segment alone and probably a bit more as you don’t want to go just from city center to city center, but rather spread you wings a little bit.

      And that’s just one line.

      Add in a few more line and we’re at what? $50 or $60 billion?

      Obviously Minnesota doesn’t have that kind of money, so you’re looking at the feds to pay the vast majority of it. Now we’re starting to see why planners opted for the cheap-o light rail and streetcar lines.

      • Submitted by Nick Magrino on 10/15/2014 - 12:30 am.

        It would be expensive, but you certainly don’t want to use the Second Avenue Subway as a barometer for construction costs. This:

        http://gizmodo.com/the-colossal-railway-thats-quietly-taking-shape-120-fe-1459124128

        …is not what we would be building under Nicollet Mall. I’m trying to ignore Europe (and Portland) but, notably, public works projects in Europe tend to cost a fraction of what they do here. Why is that?

        Using the Second Avenue Subway as an example, though, they’ve been talking about it since the 1920s (there’s a good side comment in Mad Men this season when Peggy is looking for a new place to live and the realtor remarks that it would be opening soon, and that’s set in the 1960s) and, I mean, if we know we want to do things, why wait a century? No one in power thinks twice about blowing $100 million dollars on whatever interchange wherever in the exurbs.

      • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 10/15/2014 - 07:10 pm.

        Are you including

        “cars are also 19th century technology”

        Electric and hydrogen cell versions? It is true that both electricity and hydrogen were available back then, but could they beat your horse to work?

  5. Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 10/10/2014 - 03:21 pm.

    Promote self-driving cars. Train/bus/subway all obsolete.

    Self-driving cars eliminate a lot of congestion AND offer “point to point” service to the public–none of which is addressed by train, bus, or subway.

    Cost is far less overall and can be used by anyone–it comes to you, *not* you go to it (think Park-n-Ride).

    These opportunities are not being discussed.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/10/2014 - 05:03 pm.

      Self-driving cars

      How would self-driving cars eliminate congestion? It seems to me that they would take up road space the same as a non-self driving car. The “Park-n-Ride” part just makes me think we will need to dedicate even more land to parking lots.

      • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 10/13/2014 - 01:49 pm.

        Self-Driving Cars

        The self-driving cars would actually increase congestion as they’re much better at packing cars onto a road. The figures I’ve seen say humans can get about 2000 vehicles per lane per hour. 2200 per lane per hour if use some good traffic techniques.

        Self-driving, on the other hand, can run through 6000 cars per lane per hour. That, of course, assumes there aren’t any darn humans also driving and screwing up the system.

        So the self-driving cars increases driving efficiency, which saves gas, frustration, and safety. On the downside, that puts a lot more cares on the road, which increases air pollution. But we’re likely to have that with or without self-driving cars.

        Other issues to look at:
        -Who is liable when the car inevitably gets into an accident?
        -How to charge a parking meter when the car parks itself.
        -If you buy a car from the factory, will it drive itself to your house?
        -If so, how will the car pay for gas?
        -Will this put taxi drivers, bus drivers, and truck drivers out of work? What do you do with those millions of out of work people?

        I agree with other posters that the new cars will alleviate the need to own a car. Why buy when you can rent one for a few hours or days? Let someone else worry about oil, 80,000 mile checkups, and insurance!

        I’m looking forward to the day!

        • Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 10/15/2014 - 10:11 pm.

          Self-driving cars will fix much of the problem.

          Self-driving cars could be used to carpool–if that was desired. And it could be done easily because the computer knows ALL the pickups needed, so it can do so most efficiently.

          Fewer cars overall because they make a trip downtown, drop off, can make a pickup downtown, haul that person OUT of downtown, and then make another pickup run to downtown. Repeat until done. Note the point: Fewer actual cars downtown–because few are parked there. Reverse the process for the evening run. People can work downtown and always be able to get a ride home–no significant waiting.

          Because the system can see vehicle density, speeds, routing, AND has an idea of what is coming up in the near future (i.e. it has a history of traffic demand AND of requests for rides already made), vehicles can move much more efficiently. No stop lights, for example. Plus, if there is a problem (road blocked), the system can easily route traffic around the problem point well before vehicles reach the area–and most people would barely notice because their commute was not really changed.

          The same rationale applies to other city driving trips. Kids can go to school by themselves once old enough (8-9?)–and go directly home (or to a limited range of destinations set by parents). Easily programmed into the system where each kid goes. So it also eliminates the need for school buses.

          Moms can watch the kids in a car on a shopping trip, for example, and not have to worry about driving. Better for everyone.

          Texting, working, watching TV, etc in a car is fine–because the car does the driving.

    • Submitted by Tom Trisko on 10/10/2014 - 05:43 pm.

      Self-Driving Cars

      I, too, miss the extensive Twin Cities’ streetcar system of the early Twentieth Century. I also remember how they frustrated drivers and risked lives by moving slowly and stopping frequently in the middle of the street. When they were not present, cars still got a very bumpy ride on their brick street pavers and rail junctions at intersections. I also agree that streetcars and light rail and subways are Nineteenth Century solutions. However, up until now we haven’t had many real alternatives. For some reason monorails haven’t caught on. U of MN Professor Anderson’s 1970s proposal for Personal Rapid Transit that would be nearly point to point with customized routes plotted by computers for two person vehicles on monorails went nowhere also.

      Now, however, the new geo-positioning satellites and software in combination with shared car services like ZipCar, etc. and self-driving cars could help decrease our congestion and expensive parking problems without requiring major new capitol investments in public transit infrastructure (except in dense urban areas where buses, light rail and subways would still be needed for street and highway congestion reasons). This would be especially true if the cars delivered themselves to your location and could be used by someone else after you arrived. This technology is visible on the horizon. We are getting hints of it with the new cell phone taxi services and hourly rental cars and bike rentals. This technology would also decrease accidents and allow us to safely text and talk on our phones while in transit. It would retain the privacy, convenience and timing aspects of cars that people love. It would also save households and individuals hundreds of billions of dollars in automobile related expenses if people could live with fewer cars, garages, driveways, insurance, etc., or perhaps entirely carless.

      We need to include some futuristic thinking in our transportation planning as well as remembering the positive and negative lessons from the transportation modes of the past.

    • Submitted by Nick Magrino on 10/10/2014 - 06:11 pm.

      Eh, I dunno, self-driving cars have been just over the horizon sitting next to fusion power for ages. In any case, I don’t know that making it easier to drive is really going to further the rest of our goals. In particular, auto-oriented land use is probably the single biggest factor underlying many of our biggest issues as a country.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 10/10/2014 - 06:18 pm.

      Self-driving cars, HA!

      Driving around the cities, I have noticed plentiful examples of:

      –people typically going 10 to 15 mph over the limit
      –rolling “stops” at stop signs and lights
      –running stop signs and lights
      –making illegal turns
      –following at an unsafe distance
      –streams of cars continuing through a now-red light
      –edging pedestrians and bicyclists out of the way
      –driving too fast for the conditions
      –too rapid acceleration
      –not pulling away from a car on the shoulder
      –racing through construction zones

      Sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Minneapolis a weekend or so ago–in the period of about an hour, only a couple cars (out of a couple hundred) came to a full and complete stop at a stop sign, and those were because a brave person was crossing at the stop sign.

      How are these people going to accept a car that MUST follow ALL traffic rules and regulation??? (And recognize the laws of physics, also–remember winter?).

      You think guns and Obamacare are the frontline battle markers in the definition of a free society.

      Try to make people buy cars that follow the law and see what happens.

      Late for a date, a flight, picking up the kids from daycare, or just think you deserve to be faster than everyone else?

      Should be fun.

  6. Submitted by E Gamauf on 10/11/2014 - 07:02 am.

    Building right up to the curb

    Recently I took a drive to the heart of Minneapolis –
    and surprise! – I could drive down Hennepin without a lot of frustration.

    Wasn’t so very long ago that the metro downtown was all jammed up with traffic & it took a lot longer to go from point A to point B. What has changed is the nature of the city & the planning.

    Part of that planning is a way to get people around in concentrated areas efficiently.
    What eats up a lot of space & time is more than just driving around downtown.

    When roads get improved, we tend to allow businesses to build right up to the curb so that no one is ever more than a few steps from shopping. Then we put a stoplight at every intersection, just to be sure you have still one more opportunity to stop, turn & shop.

    “Self driving cars” – aren’t those kind of like a lot of little streetcars?
    Where do those self driving cars – self PARK?

  7. Submitted by Richard Molby on 10/11/2014 - 10:20 am.

    Sky!

    rather than a subway, why not take to the sky and connect folks to where they’re really heading downtown – the skyways! maybe we could repurpose old chairlifts from Wild Mountain…

  8. Submitted by Britter Ritter on 10/11/2014 - 01:45 pm.

    Streetcars? Bah.

    I tend to agree. The streetcars in Philadelphia are in some ways harder to use than buses, and are only terrific when they run underground at high speeds. They are slow and cumbersome in traffic. Minneapolis only has eight blocks to a mile, in South Minneapolis. Stopping less than every 8th mile forces people to have to walk too far. Remember that primary riders of public transit are the elderly and disabled. I’m pretty sure there may be better options than a streetcar.
    Subways were studied in the 1980s or earlier. Drilling is easy in sandstone. Tunnels do not have to be deep unless there are geological reasons. In Philadelphia, the tunnels are only about twenty feet deep. You can cut and cover a trench for that kind of line.
    The main thing to do with Nicollet Avenue is to remove the KMart obstruction, and run buses more frequently. What never seems to be addressed is that service seems to lag demand, and who’s to say that would be any different with streetcars? More buses more often could eliminate all the delays. And actions to avoid bunching. What if buses were much smaller and could run all the time? Like the minibuses on the Mall?

  9. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/15/2014 - 09:26 am.

    Subways?

    Let’s not be too quick to accept the idea that subways would be better if we could afford to build them. You don’t get the same transit development along subway lines for one thing, and it’s much more difficult to add and remove stops and extend the line in the future. I know there’s some guy out there that claims to have discovered a design law that transit should be grade separated but he’s daft. I’ve seen and ridden on street level systems all over the country and the world, they work just fine. The geography, history, and architecture of a given urban area are deciding factors, not the law of grade separation.

    Meanwhile the advantages of street cars over buses have been established. While more expensive to build, streetcars provide superior service and ride more economically than buses once up and running. Sure, bus routes are easier to change, but in the real world major bus routes are never changed. The 17 from Target to downtown along Minnetonka Blvd has been running for 60 years.

    The real advantage of subways would be in the actual downtown areas. Downtown streets are clogged with buses and there isn’t really a good transit fix because of the architecture. Downtown Miami for instance has a nifty automated monorail elevated above the streets, but MPLS has dozens of skyways up there so any elevated system is out of the question unless you want a completely cluttered skyscape.

    Of course the problem with subway systems serving downtown MPLS is that downtown is actually so small, few lines would have to run more than 4 blocks and its not cost effective to build such short lines.

    If you look at most subway lines in most cities you find old systems that were built when the city was being built more or less around the turn of the 19th century- e.i. Boston, New York, London. Or you find systems that were built in order to preserve surface features, i.e. Washington D.C., Paris, Brussels, etc. L.A. is not comparable to the Twin Cities in any coherent way so the new subways of L.A. don’t really offer us much guidance.

    Finally, it’s silly to use the Blue line as a gold standard example of failed transit development. Much of the blue line runs along Hiawatha with it’s checkered and botched development history, and then the line drops into a tunnel under the airport before emerging into a hotel region and stopping at the MOA. I’m actually surprised that as much development has managed to spring up along Hiawatha as we’ve seen. The Green Line is showing us the real potential of transit development through a viable corridor.

    I’m not saying subways are necessarily a bad idea, but there’s seems to be this assumption among urban “planners” these days based on a “new” research claiming to have discovered the law of grade separation. I’m not saying that urban planners and transit planners have nothing to offer, but they have a checkered record of accomplishment and a different paradigm every decade. Remember, these are the people who brought us Cabrini Green and Cedar Square West and tore down the old Metropolitan Building for sake of revitalization. Now they’re telling us it’s a waste of time to build anything but subways?

    Street cars will be an improvement in a variety of ways. The idea that we should abandon street cars in order to fight for subways that will be probably never be built for a variety of reasons is dodgy advice.

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/16/2014 - 09:23 am.

    Tell ya what…

    What MPLS really needs is a central transit station. Instead of dumping hundreds of millions into sports facilities MPLS should have built a transit hub somewhere. The old Milwaukee Road Depot might have been a good spot. DC has it’s central station, Boston has South Station (and Downtown Station), Amsterdam has a central station, etc. I suppose MPLS is kind of doing something like that by the baseball field but it looks like they’re winging it rather than designing a central station that provides a gateway to a citywide and regional transit system. St. Paul has Union Depot, they could use that as a basic transit hub.

    One big advantage that street car/subway/transit systems have over buses is simplicity. If you work out of a hub all you have to do is get to that one location and from there you can take one of 5 or 6 lines out to where you need to go. Compare the Boston subway map to the MTC route maps for instance.

    Of course you can still use buses to fill in gaps but the great thing about coming into a city with a transit hub and a basic transit system on rails of some kind is that it’s so much more simple to navigate, you typically have 4-5 lines to choose from compared to dozens of bus routes. It’s also cheaper and usually a little faster. Listen: it costs a friend of mine nearly $100 to take a cap from the airport to his home in Maple Grove. Meanwhile it costs around $35 to get from Logan Airport to my sisters house in Duxbury MA which is four times the distance. You take the Red Line to South Station and a commuter the rest of the way.

    You can always run buses out of the transit hub as well but the main thing is you can plug anything you want into a hub from commuter lines to subways.

  11. Submitted by E Gamauf on 10/17/2014 - 05:46 pm.

    Honestly buses don’t do it either, do they?

    There is no reason to expect that a street car system could, or should stop less than every third or quarter mile. Its not intended as a door-to-door service, is it?

    As for downtown:
    The whole point is that the space is cramped & something needs to get moved to put in something new. You can’t do it all.

    Driving amongst street car lines is hard to get used to for visitors from outside of the city.

    Why doesn’t a planning commission explain the options & ramifications on one of those cable channels? I see a PBS documentary in this.

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