Friday, January 28, 2011

Dancing With the Streetcar That Brung Ya

Here is a nice write up about the dynamics of mass transit. (HT: Jeffrey) But while author Jeff Schwartz is absolutely right in an altruistic sense, he's not looking at things like a cold-blooded sausage maker.

What do we want? Streetcars and mass transit connecting neighborhoods around New Orleans; viable transportation alternatives that make economic sense.

What did we have? Two and a half streetcar lines.

What are we supposed to get? One-and-three-quarters more streetcar lines than we had previously (half on Loyola Ave, half on Elysian Fields, and a long run down Rampart/St. Claude).

So why not run the line all the way down Rampart/St. Claude, into neighborhoods that desperately need investment and populations that need better transportation? Why run a costly spur down Elysian Fields to the River?

Because that's where Frenchman Street, with its famous nightlife drawing folks from all over the city, can be found. Because Elysian Fields-at-the-River is the door into the part of the French Quarter where you want to be. Because there is a money-generating city region that is already developed and sitting right there, and the powers that be want to squeeze. This don't rocket surgery to figure out.

Because without the spur down Elysian Fields, no streetcar line runs down Rampart/St. Claude in the near future, period. This conversation regarding development options remains academic, dreaming of what could be if only. But they ARE running that spur down Elysian Fields, which means we increase our streetcar activity in very meaningful ways.

And maybe, when people see how this works, extending the lines all the way down Rampart/St. Claude to the IHNC, and all the way up Elysian Fields to the lake, won't look like such big risks for the city to take.

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