I am reading this Times article about Omaha’s plan to restore streetcar service to its downtown and I mostly find myself thinking that if you’re going to spend $306 million, why not make bus service better?
I like riding on trains and I wish there were more of them in the US. However, most large cities already have bus service. Making buses better—more frequent, more routes, electric rather than gas-powered, free—seems like a way to get a lot more bang for your buck than something like streetcars, where you have fixed rails that need to be laid. Sure, there is the problem of traffic, but then dedicate lanes to busses; it’s a lot cheaper and more flexible than tracks.
I guess the problem is that buses tend to be associated with poor people, and god forbid we do anything to make their lives better.