Jason Roberts's Thoughts on Last Night's Streetcar Town Hall at Methodist

Categories: Transportation
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The city, North Central Texas Council of Governments and Dallas Area Rapid Transit held that streetcar town hall last night. Among those in attendance was Jason Roberts -- who, in addition to his myriad other titles and endeavors, is an Oak Cliff Transit Authority board member and the former head of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce's Alternate Transportation Committee.

Rather than recap, I asked Roberts for his thoughts on the meeting -- especially since it was the OCTA that got the project rolling initially. And, as city transpo chief Keith Manoy told us earlier this week, there was bound to be some blow-back given that the initial route, federally funded to the tune of $23 million, stretches from Union Station to almost-but-not-quite-there Methodist Hospital.

Jason writes:
It's a mixed bag overall because we ended up getting half of the funds we requested in the grant, so DART, NCTCOG and the city are having to truncate the line to get everything started. That means it's only going to get a little ways into Oak Cliff until other funds become available. That brings up a lot of questions related to ridership, effects on future attempts for build-out, etc., but overall I'm optimistic that it's going to continue further sooner than later. When we were putting together our research and talking to officials who developed streetcar lines in other cities, we kept hearing that it's best to get a stake in the ground so you at least have somewhere to build from.

There were roughly 100 people in the audience, including state Rep. Rafael Anchía, council members Delia Jasso and Dave Neumann, Assistant City Manager A.C. Gonzales, among others. The speakers were Keith Manoy (City Transpo), Jay Kline (DART streetcar), and Tom Shelton from the COG.

The environmental studies are underway currently, and the city is trying to be aggressive in order to hit the truncated time line. They had originally laid out a build-out that would complete by 2015, but the Federal Transit Administration requires an operational/revenue-generating line by 2013.

Most everyone in the audience was favorable. One person questioned the need to build rail over bus line. Shelton discussed the economic development potential that rail creates.

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Alex Roderer
Alex Roderer

I can't wait for this thing to be built!


@Transit Ape

Loved the pdf link you replied with...now let's break that down:

- PDF file format developed as an open standard file format by John Warnock, co-founder of Adobe in 1993- John Warnock received his degree, masters, and PhD from the University of Utah- The University of Utah receives millions of federally subsidized research and education grants.

As a sidenote:

Cato Institute is funded by such environmental champions as ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute, Arco, and Philip Morris (along with multiple foreign auto manufacturers). Might not be your best source for an unbiased study source for the merits of rail if you know what I mean.

2009 US oil subsidy: $52 Billion. Oh, and we get to fund both sides of the war.

Let us know what your business is and we can quickly track down the federal subsidy that allowed it to develop within two degrees of separation.


Transit Apartheid,

The article you linked to compared RAIL to streetcars, saying streetcars, or more correctly cable cars are more affordable. Further, the criterion aren't well controlled for. Streetcars for older neighborhoods make more sense than trying to introduce them into the Suburbs or newer parts of town. This has two reasons, the first is that the older parts of town are more centralized, the other is that these older neighborhoods are built with these streetcars planned in. There's not enough parking in Lakewood/East Dallas to support life there now; whereas 50 yrs ago those neighborhoods were actually denser than they are today. You should read what you link to, failing to do so may make others wonder about your reading comprehension skills.

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

If the line stops at Zang & Colorado that's not much of a destination - a park, a bank, a 7-11 and a closed mortuary. It can't be that much more expensive to build the line two more blocks west to the hospital.

I understand the 'stake in the ground" mentality but geez, give people a reason to ride it.

El Rey
El Rey

I'm willing to walk two blocks to the hospital. Streetcars are not taxicabs. Just because they don't get you 'there', doesn't mean they are a failure. At least they are not putting them around SMU to serve the Park Cities crowd... Stop looking this gift horse in the mouth!

Oh yeah, another reason I like streetcars: Cheaper than a car payment...


Because if you never start it, you'll never have it at all.


I think he was asking for a reason why it should be built. That sounds to me like the best reason not to start it.

But it's all OK. It's only our tax dollars they're throwing away.


Whats Crackle?

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Cards on the table 14 years ago my Wife and I got married on MATA Trolley # 369 Nicknamed Matilda. And no that is why I have a problems with this.Pure and simple it is the cost.

Even a get off the lawn guy like me has to admit that the trolley from Union station the goes to the Hospital is A Good idea .

So I am eating a large plate of Crackle washing it down with some wine purchased on the south side of the river. I never thought would happen would happen as well.

And something else I think We Townies should Josh and the others for .


You're right. They haven't proven themselves at all. Oh, except for every single city in the US that they've ever been returned to:


The worst yet was Arkansas paltry 900% ROI surrounding the line. Hell, I'll take half of Portland's ROI (4000%).

Do you ever fly on an airplane? If so, guess what...the airport's federally subsidized.

Drive on the highway? Federally subsidized (gas taxes cover roughly 50%)

Build out of the US electricity grid? Subsidized.

Were they worthwhile subsidies? Yes...because all of the enterprise, innovation and development of our cities that we know today would not have occurred without them. The fact that you were able to reply to this comment thread was due to a US subsidy which allowed for the creation of the public internet backbone. Don't full yourself...if you want no government, and no tax dollars used for the general welfare then head to Somalia. It's a libertarians paradise.

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