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Fort Worth considers streetcars

The city of Fort Worth is taking steps towards installing streetcars.

The task force and city staff recommended hiring a consultant with transit experience to help with the project. The plan recommends starting with a limited system:

  • A loop in downtown Fort Worth
  • A route along West Seventh Street to the Will Rogers Center and the University of North Texas campus
  • A route down South Main Street with a spur to Evans Avenue and Rosedale Street, and a connection to the medical district along Magnolia and Eighth avenues.

The plan has broad support among the City Council — whose members inspected similar systems in Seattle; Tacoma, Wash.; and Portland, Ore., earlier this year.

[…]

Councilman Joel Burns said it’s important that the different systems work together.

“It’s got to be right outside the door. That’s the way you get a nurse who lives in Bedford to ride the TRE, get the streetcar and take it to his or her job at the hospital,” he said.

The main advantage to streetcars is that they’re relatively cheap – $250 million for the whole thing, about 12 miles of track. Fort Worth already has about 75% of the funding in place for it. They’re also quicker and easier to build than light rail tracks, and since they gnerally share a lane of traffic with motor vehicles, there’s far fewer right-of-way issues. That’s also the biggest drawback, since unlike light rail it’s not really adding to the street capacity. If they do supplement buses (as opposed to replacing them) and encourage people who currently could take the commuter rail to work but don’t because they can’t get around in town otherwise to leave the cars at home, however, that will aid mobility overall. I like that Fort Worth is thinking along these lines, though without knowing more of the specifics I can’t say if this particular plan is a good one or not. Any locals care to offer an opinion? Thanks.

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