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Thursday, April 24, 2014

New York Times Writer Suggests Harborfront Streetcar Line in Brooklyn to Long Island City Queens

In his article, Kimmelman says streetcars make sense for that part of New York because the sections of Brooklyn and Queens near the line he ...

I am having trouble linking the original article.  More to follow

The line suggested, would go from Red Hook (Ikea) to Long Island City in Queens.  He suggests a new bridge for the streetcar should be built crossing Newton Creek.  Kimmelman suggests this would stimulate development.    I say that this is fine, but any modern streetcar is more comfortable and smooth riding than any bus.   More to follow... Copied Material from NYT article April 24, 2014 below?: I may not have the correct source, please excuse me I am having trouble with my computer (tramway null(0).  I am not sure of the source of the material below:

There’s a wonderful term for the dirt trails that people leave behind in parks: desire lines. Cities also have desire lines, marked by economic development and evolving patterns of travel. In New York, Manhattan was once the destination for nearly all such paths, expressed by subway tracks that linked Midtown with what Manhattanites liked to call the outer boroughs. But there is a new desire line, which avoids Manhattan altogether. It hugs the waterfronts of Brooklyn and Queens, stretching from Sunset Park past the piers of Red Hook, to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, through Greenpoint and across Newtown Creek, which separates the two boroughs, running all the way up to the Triborough Bridge in Astoria. The desire line is now poorly served by public transit, even as millennials are colonizing Astoria, working in Red Hook, then going out in Williamsburg and Bushwick — or working at the Navy Yard, visiting friends in Long Island City and sleeping in Bedford-Stuyvesant. They have helped drive housing developments approved or built along the Brooklyn waterfront, like the one by Two Trees at the former Domino Sugar Refinery. But this corridor isn’t only for millennials. It’s also home to thousands of less affluent New Yorkers struggling to get to jobs and join the work force. Photo On the Brooklyn waterfront, south of the Brooklyn Bridge. Activity on the Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts has revived talk of a route connecting them. Credit Gabe Johnson/The New York Times So here’s an idea: bring back the streetcar. Some of this route is served — barely — by subway lines like the G, the city’s sorriest little railroad. In Astoria, stations for the N and Q are nearly a full mile or more from the East River, meaning a vast swath of that neighborhood is virtually disconnected from the subway system. It’s an area ripe for growth — for new housing, start-ups and other small businesses and industries — all the more so with the coming of the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island, just across the river and linked to Queens via the F. One can imagine another Silicon Alley spanning Cornell, Astoria, Williamsburg and Sunset Park. Right now, it’s easier by subway to get from Long Island City to Midtown, or from Downtown Brooklyn to Wall Street, than it is to get from housing projects in Fort Greene or Long Island City to jobs in Williamsburg, or from much of Red Hook to — well, almost anywhere

My Opinion:

1)  Since New York City has been hostile to streetcars since the 1920's with Walker's administration ( it has been close to 100 years ) any new streetcar project should start small, in a situation where there is no or little opposition.  The line described is very long and involves building a bridge.  Could you image the opposition from motorist that will have to give up parking and road space, person's whose view will be blocked by wires, people who do not want to crash into trolley support poles and so on?  The longer the line, more complaints from more people and also the cost.

2)  Pick a area which is underserved by rapid transit, such as eastern Brooklyn or Queens, eastern Bronx and big parts of Staten Island.   Build a  line at the end of heavily used subway line  with no other rapid transit in the area.  Try to make the line partially private right of way.  The passengers will see the difference between the comforts of a modern streetcar and a smelly shaky motor bus.

3)  While it is nice to serve the waterfront community with the hope for development, as other critics said, is this the most underserved community?  While it is true that the waterfront community may be far away from rapid transit, big parts of eastern Queens and Brooklyn is underserved as well.

4)  Keep the cost down by using modern track construction that is not deep and use if possible, modern but second hand cars as a first test. Plan your first line were the public wants such a line.  Very fancy neighborhoods may object to having their views blocked by wires. New Yorkers do not know that world capitals of Europe, such a Riga, Moscow, Sankt Petersburg, and Warsaw in the past had their palaces and art museums surrounded by "wires", both trolleybus and tramway.

5)  Instead of stressing development, which is great, stress the comforts of traveling by tram, which is quiet, odorless and smooth and cost effective and environmentally friendly.  Choose a candidate bus line that meets the criteria for such a conversion.  There are hundreds of bus lines in New York City to choose from.

6)  If the above line which is very long is built, I would, if we had the money, make a branch go over the Williamsburgh Bridge to the Essex - Delancey Street abandoned trolley terminal.  In this way, waterfront communities would have a one seat ride to the Lower East Side and or have excess to various subway lines such as the F, J, M and Z lines.  What a waste if such a valuable transit facility, such as the old trolley terminal at that location with tracks and wires should become a underground park?  But, could you imagine the difficulty of bringing streetcars on a New York bridge because of opposition from the motoring public and the New York City Department of Transportation?   I am not sure of this nor do I have the source, but for a period of time, the BRT or BMT wanted to build an extension for streetcar service north of the trolley terminal at Essex Street.  If this happened and a streetcar subway system developed, chances would have increased for streetcar service would not be abandoned since of the good service that such a service would have provided.  Note the tram subways in Philadelphia and Boston that survived the move to motorize everything.  Note the many tram subways in Europe.

More to follow:  Tramway Null(0)

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