“City should scrap plans for streetcar system” (Point of View, June 15) is a well-documented study of the negative aspects of installing a streetcar system in Oklahoma City. The fact that “all but six of the more than 800 American cities that once had streetcars” no longer use them is a clear warning. Installation of the rail network, which usually needs replacement after about 30 years, is onerous and disruptive. The noise of the jackhammers and the dust generated during the removal of existing pavement to lay the rails, coupled with traffic disruption, will hinder business activities.
We experienced similar problems, starting in 2010, during relocation of underground utilities and repaving of downtown streets. Expensive infrastructures, and high operating costs, make a streetcar system noncompetitive on a passenger/mile basis. Economic development along streetcar routes didn't materialize in other cities, unless substantial grant money was provided from city coffers, placing future additional burden on taxpayers.
Since streetcars run on electricity, their main redeeming feature is that they won't contribute to air pollution in downtown. A trolley bus system offers the same ecological benefit, and provides an economical, non-disruptive and faster solution. Trolley buses look and ride like buses, running on pneumatic tires, instead of rails. They need only two overhead wires to supply electrical energy. They're more maneuverable (no rail constrain) and more versatile — easy to extend or modify existing routes, start new ones or delete old ones.
Raoul Carubelli, Oklahoma City