Sunday, May 18, 2008

Los Angeles National Streetcar Workshop - May 22nd

Last summer I blogged about Paris going green with their bike deployment program and their new T3 streetcar line. Recently I had the opportunity to ride the modern streetcars in Portland and Seattle and to see how it is changing neighborhoods. To better understand this technology and what it can do for a city, Reconnecting America is bringing their National Streetcar Workshop to Los Angeles on May 22, 2008 at the Orpheum Theatre on Broadway.

The morning sessions are an opportunity to learn about the success stories in Portland and Seattle, a little bit on the history of the old Yellow and Red Car lines of Los Angeles, and work completed thus far on how downtown LA stakeholders could engineer the return of a Downtown Streetcar. The afternoon session will delve deeper into the more difficult questions of funding, installation and operation, and provide an opportunity to share some local case studies on other Southern California initiatives to invest in Streetcar technology, including plans by the Port of Los Angeles to expand their currently operating San Pedro historic Red Car line.

A modern streetcar can be very different than what we already see in Los Angeles with the Metro Blue and Gold light rail systems and the San Pedro historic trolley. Metro uses regional light rail systems to move people long distances, while streetcars travelling much slower make frequent stops creating a sense of place. Modern streetcars with their large windows and low floor boards, allow passengers to visually connect with the outdoor scene. The convenience of a frequent streetcar will act like a walk extender, encouraging people to explore more of their immediate neighborhood while shopping and dining or just getting around. As a centerpiece of the Bringing Back Broadway initiative, this would be a very interesting dynamic with quiet streetcars helping to reduce some of the noisy bus traffic.

For those living, working, and playing in downtown LA, the Los Angeles Streetcar Workshop offers an opportunity to hear from those who have witnessed first hand in the creation of a sense of place with the streetcars in Portland and how quickly Seattle is looking to expand their brand new system. For those who work or live in the City of Los Angeles, the registration fee is $25, and the registration fee for those outside of the City of Los Angeles is $75.

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