Beyond Oil/Sierra Club ‘Smart Choices, Less Traffic’ report gives transit the green light

By the time the mid-20th century rolled around, the American streetcar had seen far better days. But for this inspiring institution, it was neither the end of the road nor the end of the American electric street railway story. Yes, the near-total disappearance of the once-mighty and utilitarian trolley network is sad, but it’s also profound, though not near as profound, in my opinion, as the trolley renaissance or re-emergence going on today. That the lowly streetcar is making a comeback reminiscent of a phoenix rising from the ashes, this is music to my ears.

Streetcar systems aren’t coming into vogue for no reason. And if this is the case, by association, automobile miles being driven must be tapering off. It follows then that demand for streetcars must be there.

And streetcar systems aren’t the only endeavors that seem to be hitting the ground running nowadays. More and more these days it appears bus and other train systems are rising to the occasion as well.

In “Smart Choices, Less Traffic: 50 Best and Worst Transportation Projects In the United States,” a Nov. 2012 “Green Transportation Report” from The Sierra Club and Beyond Oil Campaign, identified are a total of 50 of this nation’s “best” and “worst” transportation projects. To be considered, the 50 projects had to meet one of two criteria – transportation infrastructure nominations are currently being planned or were recently finished.

Five different “impacts” were looked at as part of the project nominations’ review. These are: economic, environmental, health, land use and oil use.

Of the total 50 projects considered, 22 earned a “Best Transportation Project” rating while 27 received a “Worst Transportation Project” rating. One, “Transit System Cuts Nationwide,” draws attention to transit system deficit issues such as fare increases and service cuts. And of the 22 projects that earned a “Best” rating, 14 were bus- and/or train-improvement related. The 27 designated as “Worst” were road-improvement related.

For more on the Beyond Oil/Sierra Club “Smart Choices, Less Traffic: 50 Best and Worst Transportation Projects In the United States,” Nov. 2012 “Green Transportation Report,” see: http://tinyurl.com/best-worst2012 and http://www.sierraclub.org/transportation/downloads/2012-11-Best-Worst-Transportation-Projects.pdf.

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