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In General

Modern Streetcars



  • Simply put, a streetcar is a one-car train.
  • The modern streetcar complements more conventional modes such as commuter rail, light rail and buses which primarily serve longer-haul travel from outlying areas to employment centers.
  • Streetcars primarily function as urban circulators and pedestrian accelerators, supporting walkable urbanism within downtown and adjoining neighborhoods. One measure of a streetcar’s success is that it should cause people to travel less – to work, live, shop and play in a smaller geographic area.
  • Modern streetcars hold about 130 people. Because the journeys are short – maybe a mile on average – most people stand.
  • Streetcars run in mixed traffic and stop for signals just as cars do.
  • Modern streetcars have an operator's cabs at each end of the car so the vehicle doesn’t have to be turned around at the end of the line. The operator simply gets up and walks to the other end of the streetcar and drives it in the opposite direction.
  • Modern streetcars are about sixty-six feet long and a little over eight feet wide.
  • Modern streetcar track designs provide minimal disruption to adjacent pavement and existing utilities.
  • The typical streetcar design consists of an eight-foot wide concrete slab with embedded rails. It takes about a month to build one city block of track.
  • A majority of the track construction can be performed while maintaining traffic in adjacent lanes.
  • The top speed of a modern streetcar is a little less than 50 mph. This is seldom achieved because streetcars travel with the speed of traffic – about 15 mph in downtown.
  • Modern streetcars are entirely accessible to persons with disabilities.
  • Much of the information above was taken, in some cases verbatim, from the “Cincinnati Streetcar Feasibility Study” by HDR Engineering and PB Americas, dated July 2007. The study can be accessed here: http://www.ci.cincinnati.oh.us/city/downloads/city_pdf17754.pdf