Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Savannah opens trolley line for less than $1Million

20 December 2008

Hybrid "wireless" streetcar line makes debut

Savannah, Georgia — A short, somewhat experimental streetcar tourist line made its debut earlier this month, running along an approximately one-mile (1.6 km) single-track line through a restaurant and tourist district adjacent to the Savannah River. The line serves River Street, a former industrial corridor converted into a more upscale recreational, retail, and restaurant area.

Savannah streetcar The lines's single streetcar (a converted heritage-type car from Melbourne, Australia) was rolled out to participated in Savannah’s Climate Action Parade on River Street on December 9th. On Dec. 13th, the public were invited to take a free test ride on the new line.
[Photo: WSAV-TV]

According to an article in Rail Transit Online (December 2008), the retired Melbourne W5 streetcar, over 70 years old, has been fitted with an on-board biodiesel generator to supply electricity to the traction motors, somewhat similar to the propulsion configuration used on several other lines, such as one in Galveston. Typically, with these kinds of low-cost systems, project managers have sought to avoid the expense and logistical aspects of overhead contact systems (OCS) for supplying power. However, project designers envision eventual conversion to conventional OCS power distribution. According to news reports, the 47-foot-long (14.3-m) car seats about 50 and will accommodate another 50 standing passengers.

The entire project, under the direction of TranSystems, cost about $1 million, including almost $600,000 to buy the right-of-way, $100,000 for engineering and $207,000 for TranSystems to restore the car in Pennsylvania. Rail Transit Online notes that "Savannah has a long history of street railways, with the first horse cars starting operation in 1869 followed in 1890 by electric trolleys. The system closed on Aug. 26, 1946."

The official line opening is scheduled to take place in January.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

SSLC council resolution in favor of Streetcar

WHEREAS, the Utah Transit Authority (“UTA”) is a public transit district,
which presently owns and operates a high capacity rail fixed guideway system serving
portions of the Salt Lake Valley; and
WHEREAS, this rail fixed guideway system has been a major success with
ridership substantially exceeding pre-construction projections and public sentiment
strongly supporting rapid expansion of high capacity fixed guideway systems; and
WHEREAS, UTA proposes to expand fixed guideway systems to include, among
other things, a 3-mile rail fixed guideway system from the Sugar House community of
Salt Lake City to the City of South Salt Lake, as more particularly described herein (the
“Sugar House Transit Corridor”); and
WHEREAS, UTA purchased an existing railroad right of way within the Sugar
House Transit Corridor from Union Pacific in 2002, anticipating the future need for light
rail transit expansion within Salt Lake City; and
WHEREAS, Salt Lake City’s Sugar House Community Master Plan (adopted
December 13, 2005, Ordinance 89 of 2005) explicitly identifies in its ‘Business District
Goals and Objectives’ the theme of “directing development to be transit and pedestrian
oriented”; and
WHEREAS, the Sugar House Community Master Plan explicitly states in its
‘Multi-modal Priorities’ that future land use patterns in Sugar House should support
the implementation of mass transit throughout the community; and
WHEREAS, the Sugar House Community Master Plan explicitly states support
for the construction of “rail along the Sugar House rail corridor and determine locations
for future transit stations and park and ride facilities within the Sugar House Business
District”; and
WHEREAS, current planning efforts within the Sugar House Transit Corridor
such as the Market Station Development (South Salt Lake) and the Granite Block (Salt
Lake City) development area have anticipated the extension of rail transit along the
existing UTA owned right of way; and
WHEREAS, the Sugar House residential and business communities have
demonstrated interest and grass roots support for a surface rail alternative to improve
mobility and enhance economic opportunities within the area; and
WHEREAS, the expansion of transit alternatives via the UTA right of way in the
Sugar House Transit Corridor has been reviewed and approved as part of the Wasatch
Front Regional Council 2007-2030 Transportation Master Plan, (May 2007); and
WHEREAS, construction and operation of a fixed guideway transit system in the
Sugar House Transit Corridor will reduce reliance on the private automobile, improve air
quality, reduce the growth of vehicle miles traveled, and support the objectives of the
Wasatch Front Regional Council’s Regional Transportation Plan; and
WHEREAS, Salt Lake City and the City of South Salt Lake (the “City
Sponsors”) along with UTA, commissioned a study of public transportation alternatives
within the Sugar House Transit Corridor (the “Alternatives Analysis”); and
WHEREAS, prior to conducting the Alternatives Analysis, the City Sponsors
agreed upon a list of criteria to be considered to help guide the decision to determine the
proper public transportation alternative to operate within the Sugar House Transit
Corridor; and
WHEREAS, the criteria include: (1) the public transit conveyance operating
within the corridor should serve the needs of citizens living and working along the
corridor by promoting “walkable neighborhoods” where citizens can conveniently use
public transit; (2) it should provide stations or boarding platforms at a maximum spacing
of two blocks; (3) it should provide a low-speed system in which vehicles travel at speeds
not to exceed 25 to 30 miles per hour; (4) it should utilize conventional signals at street
and highway crossings that can also accommodate pedestrian crossings; (5) it should use
noise reducing technology; and (6) it should include a landscaped, multi-use trail at least
15-feet-wide throughout the entire corridor to serve as a parkway that increases beauty,
enhances socialization and contributes to the walkable nature of the surrounding
neighborhoods; (7) it should make a complete transit-to-transit connection from the 200
West Station on the North-South TRAX line to other mass transit options, including highfrequency
buses and future transit modes along the 1100 East/Highland Drive and 1300
East Street traffic corridors; and
WHEREAS, the federally required Alternatives Analysis is now complete, and
Salt Lake City has reviewed the Sugar House Transit Corridor Alternatives Study Final
Report, dated January 2008, and finds that it complies with the criteria established by the
City Sponsors and accepts its analysis of impacts, costs, environmental constraints, and
ridership; and
WHEREAS, Salt Lake City Transportation Master Plan Rail Transit Corridors
Map updated in July 2006 identifies the Sugar House area as a potential transit corridor;
WHEREAS, the Sugar House line will be a community level streetcar line and
would better serve the transit-friendly Sugar House District, parallel a portion of one of
UTA’s best performing bus routes, and provide an east-west connection with the West
Valley Line and a direct connection to the main north-south light rail line; and
WHEREAS, Salt Lake City understands that more specific environmental issues
will be reviewed, evaluated, and addressed during subsequent design and engineering
phases of the project as well as the final terminus of the line and at that time more
specific mitigation measures related to specific impacts will be determined; and
WHEREAS, Salt Lake City believes that this proposed project best meets the
needs of the City as a whole, and is in the best interest of the public health, safety, and
welfare of the City; and
WHEREAS, at its meeting on Monday 3 December 2007, the Salt Lake City
Transportation Advisory Board approved a motion supporting the findings and
recommendations of the Sugar House Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis for a
modern rail streetcar along the existing UTA-owned right of way within Salt Lake City
and South Salt Lake City, and
WHEREAS, at its meeting on Wednesday 13 February 2008, the Salt Lake City
Planning Commission approved a motion supporting the findings and recommendations
of the Sugar House Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis for a modern rail streetcar
along the existing UTA-owned right of way within Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake
City; and
WHEREAS, at its meeting on January 23, 2008, the City Council of South Salt
Lake City approved a motion supporting the findings and recommendations of the Sugar
House Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis for a modern rail streetcar along the
existing UTA owned right of way within Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake City.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Salt Lake City Council and Mayor as
1. Locally Preferred Alternative. That the proposed construction of the rail
fixed guideway system for purposes of operating a modern rail streetcar along the
existing UTA owned right of way within Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake City,
identified in the Sugar House Transit Corridor Alternatives Study Final Report, dated
January 2008, is endorsed and approved by the Salt Lake City Council and Mayor as the
Locally Preferred Alternative.
2. Effective Date. This Resolution shall become effective immediately upon
its passage.

SL Trib 5-29-09

Sugar House streetcar? It may be closer to reality than you think

Click photo to enlarge
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker talks about a new... (Steve Griffin / The Salt Lake Tribune)

A slow-sliding streetcar connecting Sugar House with TRAX could be ferrying passengers in three years, and the line eventually may swing north to Westminster College and the University of Utah.

In a status update Friday, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, South Salt Lake Mayor Bob Gray and Utah Transit Authority board member Keith Bartholomew stood on the corner of McClelland Street and Sugarmont Drive -- the initial end of the line -- to announce the $40 million to $50 million project is "on or ahead of schedule."

The two cities and UTA will spend the next year deciding whether to pursue federal dollars or local funding, followed by a two-year construction timeline. The planned streetcar, stopping every two blocks,

Sugar House streetcar
would run along a two-mile stretch of 2300 South between the Central Pointe TRAX station on 200 West and McClelland at 1045 East. Blueprints call for enough space alongside the streetcar for a pedestrian and bicycle trail.

"We want this to be a valley project," said Gray, predicting the car will salve congestion in Sugar House and South Salt Lake. "Something that will pull the community and entire valley together."

A 2007 study estimated daily ridership on the line at 2,300 people. The construction plan includes a single track -- a streetcar would appear every 15 minutes -- with potential for a double track if demand increases.

UTA completed a preliminary review last year that concluded streetcars, rather than light

rail or historic trolleys, were the best option.

Salt Lake City Councilman Soren Simonsen, who joined the mayors Friday, said the line someday could extend east to neighborhoods hugging the Sugar House business district as well as north to Westminster and the U.

"It will be fantastic," said Scott Clark, who owns a vehicle-detailing and storage shop within earshot of the final stop across from Fairmont Park. "All the Sugar House businesses should benefit."

Bartholomew also told a neighbor who stopped by the news conference on her bicycle that the streetcar's impact on property values would be "substantially positive."

"You might think of this as your alternative 401(k)," he said.

The officials predicted an uptick in commercial development along the line, noting retail density tends to follow streetcars in cities such as San Diego and Portland, Ore. And Bartholomew said the addition could transform the surrounding neighborhoods into "some of the most exciting in the region."

In two weeks, Becker plans to sponsor a resolution at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Providence, R.I., calling on Congress to streamline the funding process for streetcars nationwide. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, already has placed a cash request for the Sugar House project.

"We're hoping," Becker said, "that Congress will accelerate the investments."


Sugar House and SSL could soon have a streetcar line
May 29th, 2009 @ 3:48pm

SUGAR HOUSE -- It's a blast from the past, but it's now the wave of the future. A streetcar line could run through Sugar House and South Salt Lake in the next few years.

"Streetcars have become really popular among cities, and we are seeing that as a mode of transportation that can serve a lot of our communities in cities across the country," said Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.

It's like TRAX but different, in that it is a slow-speed transit system and the car makes many more stops. Usually, streetcars run through neighborhoods, giving people easy access to stores and businesses.

The Sugar House Street Car project is a two-mile rail line, running east and west, that would connect the Sugar House area with the TRAX stop in center of the valley. The new line would run along Sugarmont Drive, stopping every two blocks or so.

"This streetcar line will eliminate a lot of the congestion that's going on both in Sugar House and in the South Salt Lake area," explained South Salt Lake Mayor Bob Gray.

Such a system has been studied in Utah for a number of years. This project is a joint effort between Salt Lake and South Salt Lake, along with the Utah Transit Authority, which owns the corridor where the streetcars will run.

The corridor will be pedestrian and bike friendly as well -- Parley's Trail will be extended along the route -- and it could be a reality soon.

Becker says he's sponsoring a resolution two weeks from now at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Providence, R.I.

"It urges Congress and the federal government to move quickly to invest properly and devote the resources to streamline the decision making for streetcars in the United States," Becker explained.

He continued, "We are really progressing on a rapid pace, and we anticipate -- and this is a rough estimate-- but we really anticipate that if we keep moving along as we have, that within a year we'll be ready with decisions to move forward with the final design and construction of the streetcar line."

Once started, the project could take two years to finish. This community used to have a streetcar, so it's already built for one.

UTA expects the streetcar system could get at least 2,300 riders a day. They believe it will cost $40 million to $50 million to construct.


Story compiled with contributions from Mary Richards and Keith McCord.

SL TRIB Editorial- Good Idea just not now

Streetcar desire

Now's not the time for Sugar House

Tribune Editorial

Local officials are gung-ho to build a $40 million streetcar line that would connect Sugar House to the main TRAX line. We like what rail has done and is doing for mass transit in the Salt Lake Valley, but we still have doubts about this project.

The streetcar seems like an obvious thing to do for a couple of reasons. First, the Utah Transit Authority already owns a railroad right of way that runs the two-mile length of the route at about 2300 South. The line would connect to TRAX at the Central Pointe Station just south of 2100 South between 200 West and 300 West. The east terminus would be 1045 E. Sugarmont Dr. (2225 South), in the neighborhood of the former Granite Furniture store.

Second, that right of way, an old freight line that once served the furniture store (remember the jingle "Granite's on the railroad track"?) would accommodate both track for the new trolley and an urban trail for bicycles and walkers. It crosses several major north-south streets, but TRAX has proved that probably would not be a problem.

The new service, described as a modern trolley car, would move relatively slowly on a single track and stop about every two blocks. It would run every 15 minutes during peak service, linking Sugar House, a retail and recreation center (think of Sugar House Park) to the rest of the valley.

It also would relieve automobile traffic on busy 2100 South and encourage further commercial development both along the corridor and in


Sugar House itself.

That all sounds great. But is it worth $40 million? The funding source has not been nailed down.

According to the UTA's own study, capital investment for expanded bus service on 2100 South would cost only $10 million. The streetcar would cost $37 million. Buses are more expensive to operate, but you could run expanded bus service for 26 years on the difference in capital cost between buses and the streetcar.

TRAX has shown that Utahns will ride trains when they won't ride buses. That might be another point in the streetcar's favor, except that Utah doesn't have experience with a slow-moving streetcar system. We would hate for the Sugar House streetcar to turn out to be an expensive failed novelty, especially when UTA is straining to get the remainder of the TRAX and FrontRunner systems built and operating. To our eyes, those are the obvious top priorities, and they will require operating subsidies going forward.

In that context, a Sugar House streetcar seems like a stretch that perhaps should be postponed until the higher-priority projects are up and running for a while.