Tuesday, April 19, 2011

DOT Says "No Thanks" to Red Hook Trolley

From The L Magazine:
Last year we got really excited when the city's Department of Transportation set aside some cash and contracted transportation consultants to look into a plan to install streetcars in Red Hook to connect the isolated 'hood to the Smith-9th Street subway station and Downtown Brooklyn. But according to a DOT report released last week (PDF here) the project isn't viable.
Read the rest here.


  1. There are some major facts about streetcar projects that NYC DOT doesn't want you to know:

    What this "massaged" report doesn't say, is that while it costs $41 per hour to run a streetcar, it costs NYCT $160 per hour to operate a bus. What the report doesn't tell you, is that according to URS's own experience in Portland, OR, it really costs $12 million per mile to build the streetcar line, not $26 million per mile as URS now claims. What DOT DID SAY in an email last Dec, is that URS and DOT project a 43% increase in Transit Demand in Red Hook. Another thing they don't want you to know, is a new streetcar costs about $800,000. DOT wants you to think its over $7 million per car...

    Finally, the ultimate key fact that DOT doesn't want you to know, is that a 2 mile start up line could be built for under $33 million, with $25 million coming from a special FTA grant for new streetcar projects, called a "TIGER Grant".

    Dont believe me though, read what the prestigious American Public Transit Association (APTA) has to say of the TRUE costs of a new streetcar line here: http://heritagetrolley.com/artcileBringBackStreetcars7.htm#Post11

  2. DOT/URS have been attempting to use certain misleading technical jargon, to confuse the issue of what the REAL Red Hook streetcar operating costs would be. The true unit of measure for a streetcar, or any other transit mode, is "Vehicle Cost Per Hour". Of course, DOT didn't allow this unit of measure to be used in the URS study. For a real number, lets look at our sister City, Philadelphia. Its highly "instructive", that URS used Philly streetcars as a "case study"- but then URS didn't use SEPTA's own operating cost documentation...Compare the following figures, with the current NYCT bus operating cost of $160 per hour (National Transportation Database):

    Philadelphia Streetcar Hourly Vehicle Operating Cost: $47 per Hour.
    Source: SEPTA Planning Document, 2009. See page 58 here: http://www.septa.org/reports/pdf/asp10.pdf.
    Let's now use some simple arithmetic:
    $47/Hour x 3 streetcars (on a 2 mile start up route) x 12hours/day x 365days/year = $617,580 PER YEAR

    Let's now take another current streetcar example: Memphis, TN, where "hourly vehicle operating costs" are about $78/hour (National Transportation Database):
    $78/hour x 3 streetcars (on a 2 mile start up route) x 12hours/day x 365days/year = $1,024,920 PER YEAR.
    Where the Heck did DOT/URS get their totally OFF THE WALL (+$7 million per year) operating cost numbers from? Could it be- DOT and URS have purposely sabotaged this Red Hook streetcar study- or maybe they just cant do 2nd grade arithmetic?
    Read my own streetcar Operating Cost findings research and formulas here: http://www.brooklynrail.net/images/new_brooklyn_streetcar/streetcar_vs_nyct_bus_operating_cost.pdf.

    As for the ridiculous “wide turns and narrow streets issue” (streetcars originally ran on all these streets), if new American made streetcars were purchased ($800k each), this “issue” would simply vanish. Its certain "gold plated" foreign made streetcars that cause some urban geometry problems- such as the type URS is currently peddling here in the U.S...
    Think about this: who precisely did DOT and URS "design" this streetcar line for? Clearly not for the benefit of the public...then for who? Maybe for the Bernie Madoffs, Ivan Boeskys, Michael Milikens, and certain "gold plated" foreign railway equipment suppliers? We have a name for this here in Brooklyn: GRAFT !

  3. Guys, I hate to break it to you, but transit in NYC costs so much to operate because of union contracts with the MTA. MTA has not experience with streetcar--only with subways and heavy rail.

    There aren't a whole lot of American streetcar companies. One, I think (Gomaco?) and that's under license from a European company.