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Return of the streetcars.

February 14, 2011

NPR’s Weekend Edition did a nice piece the other day on the return of streetcars to American cities. They highlighted a company called Oregon Iron Works, which is making all-American-made streetcars for cities around the country. The piece also features one of my favorite Congresscritters, Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), at D.C.’s own H Street Northeast/Atlas District, which is currently undergoing some much-anticipated streetcar infrastructure installation.

Brian Taylor of UCLA’s Institute for Transportation Studies, the expert called on at the end of the piece to provide some criticism, points out that streetcars are, of course, not a magic bullet, and can’t be counted on to solve all transportation-related problems in all cases, especially when it comes to funding trade-offs with regard to other, existing transportation projects like buses and roads. In another fantastic public radio piece, Transportation Nation‘s Back of the Bus provides some real-life examples of that tension, and how it plays out in terms of environmental justice.

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