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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Streetcars and Spatial Analysis - Picture Credit: Frank Pfuhler Collection - Dave's RailPix-- 1015 at First Avenue Loop

If you came to this blog, you probably love streetcars and perhaps trolleybuses as much as I do.  I live in Brooklyn, New York which is part of New York City.  The last streetcar that was city owned ran in October 1956 and I remember it, although I was in the first grade.  Trolleybuses, as someone said, is transit's stepchild, also ran in Brooklyn.  I remember them on the Cortelyou Road route in Flatbush.  The last trolley bus ran in Brooklyn in July, 1960.   As you probably know, streetcars, also known as light rail, are coming back all over the world including many cities in the United States.  Unfortunately, they do not appear to be coming back to Brooklyn or in the other boroughs despite the efforts of various groups such as Vision 42 or Brooklyn Historical Railway Association.
       About a year ago, Yonah Freemark wrote an interesting blog asking the theoretical question:  If streetcars did come back to Brooklyn, what would that system look like?  He produced a great map that stole my thunder.  I will comment on his map later but for now, I would like to present the aims of this blog:

1)  If streetcars came back to Brooklyn, what routes would they run on?  What would a map of these routes look like?  Would the route be the same as in 1956?  What routes do you think should come back and why?  How about streetcar and or trolley bus routes in other parts of the city? 
What do you think about "peak oil" and electric surface transportation and how about trolley boats and trolley trucks in a limited oil environment?  We all know that electric surface transportation is good for the environment.  Perhaps we can show this using maps.

2)  How can I make better maps using ESRI ARCGIS to display this information?

3)  How can I use some of the geoanalytical techniques available in ARCGIS for making better maps that show proposed streecar lines?  For example, should new streetcar routes be established in neighborhoods that are far away from existing subway/bus lines and have light/heavy concentration of population?

4)  If my edition of ARCGIS cannot do not regression analysis, can I use Geoda or "R" to do analysis for proposed routes?  What methodology should I use? and finally:

5) Although not streetcar related, what geospatial /analytical techniques can I to study isolated communities that receive a form of social services if I have demographic and other type of census data including rapid transit line data?  What software do you suggest other than ARCGIS, Geoda, or "R" can I use to study isolated populations?

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