Councilmember Sandy Colvin Roy (12th Ward) called a streetcar study the “most forward-looking item” in the city's 10-Year Transportation Action Plan. The rest of the Council agreed that streetcars are an alternative form of transportation worth looking into.
At its March 10 meeting, the City Council approved an additional $300,000 for the 10-Year Transportation Action Plan to be used to study the feasibility of streetcars in the city. The study will identify routes that have some potential for streetcar technology, evaluate streetcar corridors for redevelopment potential, develop a long-term streetcar network, estimate costs, identify potential funding streams, and identify the next steps and possible roadblocks to implementation.
The study will also look at a similar feasibility study that officials in Madison, Wis., are performing to examine for the potential of streetcars there.
Councilmember Diane Hofstede (3rd Ward) made a motion to recommend that the study also examine the possibility of putting streetcars in areas of the city typically underserved by mass transit but in need of alternative forms of transportation.
“It's really to reinforce that we have a commitment to folks who have been underserved and who need the transportation modes, including streetcars,” Hofstede told the Council.
Councilmember Robert Lilligren (6th Ward) said he thought the motion was a good reminder that streetcars are a good opportunity to bring service and transit to areas of the city, especially on the north side, where there are gaps in transportation service.
But other Councilmembers, including Scott Benson (11th Ward) called for the motion to include specific routes or areas where consultants should look at putting streetcars.
Colvin Roy also pointed out that while studying areas outside the city's primary transit network for streetcar use doesn't hurt, the city would still have to find the funding to build and operate the streetcars.
“We need to also consider where the resources will come from and what the resources can support,” Colvin Roy said.
After the discussion, the Council unanimously approved the additional funding and Hofstede's motion to examine the possibility of putting streetcars in areas of the city typically underserved by mass transit.