Streetcars are the latest urban planning fad, stimulated partly by the Obama administration’s preference for funding transportation projects that promote “livability” (meaning living without automobiles) rather than mobility or cost-effective transportation. Toward that end, the administration wants to eliminate cost-effectiveness requirements for federal transportation grants, instead allowing non-cost-effective grants for projects promoting so-called livability. In anticipation of this change, numerous cities are preparing to apply for federal funds to build streetcar lines....
Rail transit proponents rely heavily on a myth that many people will ride railcars who won’t ride buses. They use the term “quality transit” as a euphemism for rail transit, implying that buses are not quality transit. Apparently, “livability” not only means you don’t have to have a car, but you don’t have to lower yourself by taking a bus either. Taxpayers are supposed to cater to such snobs by providing them with rail alternatives that cost many times more than buses.
June 14, 2012
Randal O'Toole explains in detail. (PDF, via Forbes.) To put it briefly: Buses do better for far less money.