L.A. Moves Closer to Bringing Streetcars Back. You Can Help Tomorrow Night

My favorite alternative connects the black line running down Broadway to the yellow line snaking through South Central Los Angeles and around the Staples Center. See all the alternatives ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/metrola/5964310921/sizes/o/in/photostream/##here.##

Tomorrow night, the L.A. Streetcar team and Metro will hold a public meeting to discuss what options will be studied for a new streetcar system for Downtown Los Angeles.  There are seven options on the table, all of them serve a different need, and all of them will bring something new, or rather something old, back to the Downtown.

There’s plenty of information about the project and meeting online.  You can get the meeting details, read a short briefing put together by Metro, or visit the official LA Streetcar homepage and comment on the alternatives.  Last but not least, the streetcar boosters have their own webpage at Go LA Streetcar.

Last week, the mapping blog Big Map Blog, released an old map of the streetcar system from 105 years ago.  The quality of the old streetcar system has become something of an urban legend among transportation reformers.  People talk about the system as though it provided a universal transit system that was unrivaled.

And looking at the map, it’s easy to say why.

Yup, the old streetcars went to Staples Center. You can see a lot more of the 1906 map at ##http://www.bigmapblog.com/2011/us40-2-los-angeles-california-rail-systems-1906/##The Big Map Blog.##

But as impressive as the old streetcars were, it’s time to look forward, at what’s being offered by the current proposals. None of the proposals can replace what used to exist, but each of them brings something new to the table.

All of the routes have one thing in common.  Each segment contains a southbound segment on Broadway between 1st and 9th.  Originally, the idea of bringing back part of the old streetcar network was to “Bring Broadway Back.”  Metro has held true to that vision by including nine blocks of Broadway in every alternative.

With a backbone predetermined for Broadway, the most pressing routing issues become where to start and end the route.  Unlike 1906, Metro now has a subway running through Downtown with more light rail on the way.  With the Red and Purple Lines running to Union Station, does the streetcar really have to run there too?  Heck, wouldn’t it probably be faster for people training in to Union Station to grab a subway connector to Downtown instead of riding the streetcar the entire way?

As for a southern terminus, after seeing the tremendous vision for the Figueroa corridor earlier this year, it’s nigh impossible to not root for a the line to run down Figueroa to help fulfill that vision.

Do you have a favorite route? If so, feel free to discuss it below. All comments will be forwarded on to the LA Streetcar project team. Or, you can send a message to them directly at streetcarservice@metro.net.

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