Starting in the mid to late 1800s, streetcar systems were implemented across America. Real estate owners and developers sought to increase sales by connecting their newly-built homes to Central City employment and retail via streetcar transit. Mass marketing of the automobile deflected attention from – and investment in – these systems in the 1900s in all but a handful of cities, including Toronto, New Orleans, Philadelphia and San Francisco.
In 2001, Portland opened a new Central City streetcar line, the first modern streetcar system built in America. Since that time, America appears to have collectively recalled the power of streetcar to support and compliment land use development, and five years later more than 80 American communities were planning for streetcar implementation. Portland is now seeking funding for the extension of its 4-mile streetcar line to a Portland Streetcar Loop encompassing both the west and east sides of its Central City.
hifting from a highway-centered federal transportation focus to one centered around transit is explored in a U.S.PIRG document. The specific greenhouse gas savings from using transit is explored in another document. Finally, the national numbers behind greenhouse gases are explored in a FTA presentation.