On streetcars

Nobody really gets streetcars. Not even in San Francisco, where streetcars have been around since the dawn of time, for streetcars anyway. Perhaps only the operators really understand what it means to manuever  the big Bredas around the streets of San Francisco. Drivers of cars still cross over the limit line at intersections where the streetcars trains turn, and then are put out of they have to back up or turn aside to make room. Bicyclists still cross in front of a car pulling away from a stop, oblivious to the sudden braking by the operator that jostles everyone inside. Passengers still dash inside closing doors on the platforms, triggering the ear-piercing alarm and delaying departure by a few seconds more while the doors re-adjust and the operator checks for again for stray appendages caught outside the car.  Newbies drive on the raised islands or sometimes, as in the case of the J-line on San Jose Avenue or at West Portal, drive right onto the tracks because they forget where the road goes.

Anyway, I am on about streetcars because next to subways, I think they are the most efficient way to move people around a city. Typically the trackway is dedicated to the car, which reduces congestion. Stops and stations are placed further apart than bus stops, which speeds transit time –  and yes I know, reduces convenience. I for one would like to see more lines in San Francisco. The proposed Cross-town Subway will be nice, though it really  needs to go all the way to North Beach and even Fisherman’s Wharf. As the cost of tunneling gets to be more expensive, above-ground streetcars will probably be needed to realize my idea.

And what I’d really like to see is a line that connect the west side of the city. Such as line could extend from West Portal down Sloat, running on the surface all the way down to Sunset. There it would make a turn to the north and run along Sunset to Golden Gate Park. At Lincoln Avenue it has some choices. It could submerge under the park, and stay under as it tunnels to Geary and makes a turn back downtown, perhaps to connect to the Union Square station. It could stub out at Lincoln  and go no further. It would definitely become a neighborhood line, and perhaps the only one that does not feed downtown.

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