Continuing the trend of transit expansion maps like mine and Track Twenty-Nine’s, Dan of BeyondDC has a transit vision. He won’t call it a “fantasy map” because this is no fantasy: by building only half the Silver Line and using the money for more streetcars, the construction cost ought to be little more than what has been seriously proposed in recent years.
That Metro-versus-streetcar funding debate turned into a fascinating debate on Ryan Avent’s blog. On the one hand, we can build eight streetcar lines for the cost of one Metrorail line. On the other hand, as Ryan writes, “There is more to these choices than just cost per person per mile. The density and capacity that can be supported by a Metro station significantly increases the value of surrounding property.”
I think they’re both right; streetcars are generally the best bang for the limited buck today, but we also need to think big. It’s ridiculous that governments are fighting over scraps of federal money while we keep building expensive highways (not to mention wars). Streetcars versus Metro? BRT versus light rail? FTA formulas? We know that transit drives economic growth and higher land values in the long run. With apologies to the military and schools, perhaps one day transit will have all the money it needs while the road builders have to hold a bake sale to buy an off-ramp.