Easier To Love A Streetcar Than A Light Rail

What’s in a name?

Well, maybe not much in Shakespeare’s time, but in our present-day society of perception-beats-reality, word association means quite a bit. This article, relayed via Planetizen, discusses this concept with respect to rail-based transportation: Streetcar vs. Light Rail

“It bugs me that such an awkward, engineering-specific term – light rail – has become the common one for the trains that run on fixed rails with overhead electric wires that have been built in dozens of cities across the United States. (The term comes from the fact that light rail is an alternative to “heavy rail” systems – subways or inter-city trains that weigh more and can carry more people.) I support the mass transit systems, but who could love something as soulless as ‘light rail’?

Maybe that’s why dozens of cities are building new streetcar lines. Charlotte, Little Rock, Memphis and Tampa, to name a few, are putting either vintage or antique cars on their streetcar lines or even brand-new cars with the sharp, clean angles that resemble those you see on light-rail lines. They join cities such as New Orleans that never got rid of their old streetcar lines in the first place.”

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The same author (Alex Marshall) contributed to Streetsblog, writing an essay touching on the history and potential future of streetcars, providing some reasoning for why he believes streetcars are better than light rail and buses.

If you’re interested, that post can be found here

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