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Metro streetcar strategy starts to roll

Those seeking to restore streetcar service to Metro Vancouver appear to have gained new options this week as regional mayors moved to end a funding standoff with the province.

Electric streetcars, the low-carbon mass transit that literally shaped the City of Vancouver, are something to be desired, UBC professor Patrick Condon writes in a new Tyee series:

"Streetcars will reduce pollution, better accommodate infirm and elderly passengers, add capacity, provide everyone a more comfortable ride, cost less per passenger-mile over the long run than is being spent now, and attract investment where it is most desired."

Streetcars are also likely to be among the transit options considered under new funding options announced by Metro Vancouver mayors this week.

The mayors now say they are willing to consider new taxes and fees to pay for the Evergreen Line and other transit, provided the province also puts money on the tracks. Premier Gordon Campbell and Transportation Minister Shirley Bond are expected to attend a mayors' council on Sept. 23.

And new streetcars – similar to those demonstrated during last spring's Winter Olympics – will be the subject of an upcoming symposium that promises to "discuss and debate the potential role of streetcars as a critical link within the transportation system."

Among the speakers on the agenda at "Streetcars: The Missing Link?" are David Goldberg, of Smart Growth America, who will talk about the resurgence in U.S. streetcar systems, and Jack Collins, of the Greater Toronto Area Transportation Authority, who will talk about the Big Smoke's little trains.

The Sept. 29 UBC forum is open to the public.

Monte Paulsen writes about carbon shift for The Tyee.

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