Friday, July 4, 2008

Trolley car hype based on false premise

The following is but one of an ongoing series of reports on the reality of street (trolley) car systems which proponents have cited as example of successful operations.

A Sept. 9, 2007 Sunday News article on a proposal to bring trolley cars back to Lancaster downtown streets quoted Jack Howell of the Lancaster Alliance, and a member of the Streetcar Co. board, as follows:
"'We are not going to be subsidized by RRTA,' said Howell, though RRTA is likely to be the conduit for federal and state funding for construction of the system…"

A follow up Sunday News article of Nov. 18, 2007 reports: "A trip to Dallas, Texas, where the McKinley Avenue system ‘appears to be a system similar to what we plan’ is in the works as well, said board chairman Tim Peters, chairman emeritus of Warfel Construction Co."

News to Sunday News readers: The McKinley Avenue system indeed attracts a lot of riders. But it does not charge any fare. Free is always popular!

NewsLanc has proposed that the current faux trolley buses be free and run an expanded loop route as far south as the Water Street Rescue Mission and north to the Amtrak Station. If being free is the key to ridership, there is no reason to spend at least $14 million to build a system and to clog our streets since it may have little if anything to do with attracting riders.

Frequent free loop service may prove successful and, if it doesn’t, the experiment can be discontinued without much damage.

And taxpayers, who will have to pick up the tab for operations, will at least get a "free ride" for their money instead of being taken for a ride.