City of Colorado Springs / Transit Service / Transit Links / Streetcar Feasibility Study / Frequenty Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

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Role of this study in light of transit bus operation service reductions

A majority of the funds for this study come from private sources and from federal government planning grants that can only be used for planning studies and not for transit operations.

 

The study is co-sponsored by and partially funded by private organizations including:

Colorado College                                    University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Downtown Development Authority             Business Improvement District

Urban Renewal Authority                         Old North End Neighborhood
Bircham's Office Products  

 

Like the federal contribution, the private donations cannot be used to support transit operations.

 

Role of this study in light of the City budget issues and recent failure of Issue 2C

Despite the failure of a property tax increase, the citizens of Colorado Springs have been clear in their feedback to our leaders, our government officials, and through grassroots initiatives such as Dream City that transit is important to them. 

It is important to take advantage of planning grants while they are available so that future transportation improvements can be implemented when the local and national economies recover and are able to support them.

When construction dollars and potential new funding mechanisms become available, the necessary planning studies need to be complete and the project needs to be ready to implement.

It is important for the area to plan for the future to ensure that all potential transportation modes are considered to help in the long-term development of the City and region.

A feasibility study is just that, a planning tool to determine if this is something our citizens want and if so, what would it look like and where would it make the most sense.

 

Relationship between this study and the Pikes Peak Historic Street Railway Foundation

This study is a totally separate effort, not to be confused with the Historic Railway Foundation which is a volunteer-based effort to refurbish vintage trolleys.

The Foundation does not have a leadership role in the study, nor is it helping to fund the study.

Representatives of the Foundation are on this study's Taskforce and will provide input and comments on all the study's findings.

If and when the Foundation is able to implement a trolley service, it will be coordinated with any streetcar system proposed by this feasibility study.

  

Purpose of the Colorado Springs Streetcar Feasibility Study

Mountain Metro Transit is examining the potential feasibility and costs of developing a streetcar system in the central business district of Colorado Springs and surrounding areas.

 

It will recommend alignments and operating and implementation plans, but will be focused on determining if such a system is economically fundable by the local community.

 

Why would the City be conducting a streetcar study when it just stopped the popular free DASH shuttle?

The DASH service was eliminated in April 2009 as part of the overall City budget cuts. 

 

The funding for DASH was, at its inception, provided primarily by Federal CMAQ (Congestion, Mitigation and Air Quality) money as a three-year demonstration project. 

 

Once the grant funding ended, the City, along with support from the Downtown Business Improvement District, Colorado College and matching fund providers, assumed funding.

 

Ridership on DASH actually increased significantly once Tejon Street became two-way and the shuttle route went from a Tejon/Cascade loop to a two-way route on Tejon. 

 

A new streetcar in the central business district of Colorado Springs would, in essence, bring back the DASH concept of a transit shuttle service in the downtown area. 

 

Study duration

We anticipate the study will be complete in late spring 2010, approximately 10 months after starting.

 

Consultant conduction of the study and the cost

A contract was awarded in August 2009 to URS, an engineering firm with a local presence and nationally recognized for its work on transit studies and implementation programs.

 

The cost of the feasibility study is $333,872.

 

Construction, operations and maintenance

 

How much does a streetcar system cost to build and operate?

Recent streetcar projects around the country have seen costs that range from $10 million to $50 million per mile depending on the extent of street work necessary following streetcar track construction. 

 

The Colorado Springs Streetcar Feasibility Study project is focused on planning a system at the lowest possible construction cost. 

 

Estimated operating costs for the system will be determined after the study has developed operating plans and will be based on recent experiences in other cities. 

 

Where would the funding come from to pay for a streetcar system's construction and operations?

The federal government has several programs that can help pay for the construction of a streetcar system,

 

The study will examine all of them for their potential use on a local system. 

 

Other cities have worked with local neighborhoods and businesses to create special taxing or assessment districts to help pay for systems with the increase in revenues generated by new development along streetcar routes. 

 

Other potential sources of funding include advertising and local sponsorship and naming rights for vehicles and stations. 

 

This study will examine a range of options for financing a streetcar system and will make recommendations on the best and most reasonable and logical combinations of funding sources over the short run and long term.

 

 

How are streetcars powered?

Streetcars are traditionally powered by overhead electric wires, similar to light rail systems. 

 

Streetcar wires are designed to blend into the surroundings, with wire connections and supports integrated into streetlamps or other urban streetscape features.

 

Would streetcars operate in City streets?  If so, how would they affect traffic and parking?

One reason streetcars are less expensive than light rail is their ability to operate in mixed-flow traffic. 

 

Cars and other vehicles could drive on the tracks and often follow streetcars in traffic. 

 

Streetcar operations are usually coordinated with the local street signal network to keep traffic - and streetcars - moving as smoothly and rapidly as possible. 

 

All recent streetcar systems include this component for most if not all of their operations.

 

What alignments are being considered?

The study's primary goal is to develop a long list of potential alignment alternatives and recommend the best alignments based on their ability to meet transportation and development goals. 

 

To help make their recommendations, the study team will examine potential activity centers and logical starting and ending points.

 

They will recommend which alignments make the most sense to be built first and which could be added later as resources allow.

 

The study will examine both localized downtown alignments as well as potential extensions to destinations outside the immediate downtown area.

 

If Colorado College and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs are helping pay for the study, will the streetcar system provide service to those campuses?

This study will look at the best ways to serve those campuses, either in initial phases or future phases.

 

Where will the streetcars be maintained?

This study will make initial assessments about potential locations for a streetcar maintenance facility. 

 

Many cities have made their facilities into public museums where residents and tourists can watch the streetcars being maintained. 

 

These ideas will be explored in this study, with the aim of making generalized recommendations on where streetcars can be maintained.

 

General questions

 

Why not just add bus service to routes being considered for streetcar service?  Wouldn't that be cheaper?

Bus service would be cheaper to provide if all a community wanted was increased transit capacity. 

 

However, as noted earlier, streetcars can provide potential benefits to local communities that buses cannot.

 

Streetcars are seen by communities, residents, and workers as permanent investments that can be used to attract new development, improve the walkable nature of local neighborhoods and attract tourism.

 

Studies have shown that local investments in permanent transit projects such as streetcars provide significantly higher economic benefits to local communities, something additional bus service does not provide.

 

Why are Colorado Springs and other cities considering streetcars?

Currently, more than 75 cities around the country are planning or constructing streetcar systems.

 

Within the last 10 years, cities of all sizes that have implemented streetcars have seen significant increases in development along streetcar alignments.

 

These systems provide transit benefits but also can encourage economic development along streetcar routes. 

 

Often, the increased development helps to pay for the construction and operation of the streetcar systems.

 

Many cities see streetcars as a relatively low-cost option (compared with light rail) for implementing fixed-guideway rail transportation systems.

 

What other cities have built streetcar systems recently?

Cities that have built streetcar systems within the last 10 years include Little Rock, Portland, Seattle, Tampa, and Tacoma.

 

Portland is probably the earliest example of a comprehensive streetcar network with a core line and several extensions.

Seattle is planning up to five new streetcar lines in addition to the one line now operating. 

 

Cities with streetcar lines under construction or in advanced stages of planning include Tucson, Charlotte, and Stamford, Connecticut.

Longer-range planning is being conducted in Denver, Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin, and many other cities.

 

How can citizens provide comments on the project and the future of streetcars in Colorado Springs?

 

Visit the project web page at www.CSstreetcar.com

Send an email directly to info@CSstreetcar.com