Streetcars, America’s transit de jour, have proven difficult operations in other cities like Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Beyond the latent ire of community boards in New York, there are major hurdles revolving around nearly every aspect of the project, including how the streetcar will interact with vehicles; the use of value capture financing; and its placement in a flood-prone corridor.
Other transit experts believe the city is oversimplifying the scope of the project. De Blasio’s streetcars would carry almost 50,000 riders per day at a speed of about 12 miles per hour, according to city estimates. When you weigh costs and capacity against the Second Avenue subway, the BQX doesn’t add up, said Jon Orcutt, a spokesman for TransitCenter.
The streetcar was first proposed by the Friends of the BQX, a support group with several large development firms on its executive committee and board of directors. De Blasio has had to vehemently fight the perception that the streetcar isn’t a handout to developers in an area that is not quite the “transit desert” that he describes.
A trip on the BQX would cost the going rate of a MetroCard, but it’s still unclear if the BQX will be integrated with the MTA’s fare payment system.