Letters to the editor, 03/14/05 A Downtown-Oakland streetcar is a swell idea
I think Bob O'Connor's proposal for a streetcar line from Oakland to Downtown is an excellent idea ('O'Connor Gets Behind Streetcar Idea,' March 1). The editorials and letters I have seen regarding this do not take into account the strong benefits an on-street rail system could provide for Pittsburgh.
Rail is a much more attractive method of transit than bus, and thus attracts more riders, taking cars off the road. It is smooth, quiet and pollution free. Having a transit link that people would actually want to use would bring more people through the Hill District and Downtown, spurring economic development and increasing property values. Concerning Pittsburgh's youth retention problem, streetcar systems are also highly appealing to young people (myself and others).
Cities such as Portland (Ore.), Tampa and San Francisco have rebuilt streetcar lines in recent years, and all have met with great success. In these and other cities, the consensus is that the lines have been well worth the initial investment. Two of these cities use 'Heritage Trolleys' -- old PCC streetcars (a type used in Pittsburgh through the early 1970s). The use of this type of car could add an incomparable aesthetic value to Pittsburgh and provide a living link with history that our citizens would surely appreciate. They could also be a great tourist draw.
Pittsburgh has a transit system that is hardly the best and the city has simultaneously fallen on difficult economic times. If implemented, this proposal could address both of these problems and do so with style. I strongly feel that it is worth considering.
ANDRAS HARIS, North Point Breeze
I too feel that it is worth considering. That consideration is splendid. Let's choose to Think Again.
How about if we think about moving the light rail to Oakland. We have an existing subway. That line could use the station near the strip district and proceed along the East Busway to the back side of Oakland.