NYC DOT Poised to Nix Streetcar Plan in Brooklyn

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 10:30 AM

An old New York streetcar at rest on the Red Hook waterfront. (Photo by nickherber / Flickr Creative Commons)

(New York, NY -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC) The New York City Department of Transportation says it won't support a proposed light rail line in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn because it's not worth the cost.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised to pilot a streetcar line along the Brooklyn or Queens waterfront during his 2009 re-election campaign. One possible location was a Red Hook line connecting the transit-starved neighborhood to subways in Downtown Brooklyn and nearby Carroll Gardens.

But a summary of the NYC DOT's study says the line would cost $176 million to build, and nearly $7 million a year to keep going. It also argues streetcars would attract only 12 percent more riders than a local bus route already carries. That's because the study assumes that with Red Hook car ownership rates barely breaking 20 percent, most people take mass transit already.

Mayoral spokesman Stu Loeser said other plans for light rail have been put on hold because of expected cuts in federal and state transportation aid.

Residents in favor of a streetcar line say it would be more durable and reliable than the bus. The department's findings come from a summary given to neighborhood groups. The full report is due out on Wednesday.

Read more on the report here.

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Comments [2]

Bob D

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:
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:

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 !

Apr. 21 2011 09:23 PM
Bob D

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:

Apr. 20 2011 11:57 PM

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