The real question is whether in Fort Worth any kind of transit will drive development or redevelopment. There is very little solid evidence resulting from studies in multiple cities that have the same characteristics as Fort Worth including climate that a lot of economic improvement is due to transit of any kind. Two smaller cities in the very temperate Pacific Northwest do not make a solid case study for Fort Worth. Unlike one of those NW cities, none of the Fort Worth Urban Villages is in a rotten slum state.
Unless you separate Fort Worth from the rest of the region, there is plenty of evidence. It has happened in Dallas (both DART and MATA), Plano, Richardson, Garland, Carrollton and Denton. The last two haven't even had rail service yet, but TOD's are sprouting. Why would FT. Worth be different?
And who is to say that if a super bus with exactly the same characteristics and finish as the streetcars that are being suggested were laid into exclusive curbside running routes with built up curbs that there would not be a positive response? Show me a study that says it can't.
There's been plenty. LA has the BRT and nothing to show for it, but its rail systems have spawned quite a bit of development. Same thing in Cleveland, Boston, Pittsburgh and even Brisbane Australia. The only place where BRT has had any impact is in Churitiba, Brazil and they are now considering rail to replace it.
A bus or streetcar can be built on almost exactly the same chassis. The interiors can be almost identical. In fact, most of the streetcar manufacturers also make buses. The identical bus would cost a lot less. And those buses would run on clean CNG as the Fort Worth buses do instead of taking power from the largely coal fed electric power grid. Do your Googling. No affordable and easily developed power source is cleaner than CNG. You would have to go all atomic, wind and solar to beat it.
That's all well and good, but like it or not, rail transit attracts more riders.
Please don't try to lump the development produced by light rail on Dart in with this subject. That development essentially promotes the anathema that some on this forum call "urban sprawl" since the development centers are a long way out from the city center and cannot be classsed as urban. I'm not saying that the Dart development didn't happen or wasn't good. The same thing may happen on the TRE and the NE2SW. It just isn't streetcar development. Two different things.
Statistically, they types of development are similar, regardless of style. There is little difference between Uptown around upper McKinney which was spawned by the streetcar and downtown Plano, which was spawned by the light rail.
And as for urban sprawl, there is a difference. Sprawl is defined by its form, not distance from a downtown. If you definition is correct, then Brooklyn is sprawl. Since it is compact and mixed-use in nature it isn't sprawl.
Incredibly, the streetcar plans for Fort Worth have nothing to do with public transit. The City of Fort Worth is very clear about this. They insist that the burden of the several hundred million dollar cost (About one-third the current estimated costs of the TRV) will be born by donation and by those on the routes that it serves. Can streetcars fly?
Most transportation projects aren't about transportation. Never have been. From historic streetcars to current highways, it has always been about real estate development.
But now we find that there is some possiblity that the streetcar plan will be partially financed by some of the stimulus money. This changes the playing field. Stimulus money is public money and it is yours and mine as tax dollars. And I personally do not want to help finance a private transit system plan that is designed to cherry-pick high income people and somehow seduce them into using a very expensive private valet system that will probably only be used when no other source is available. The subsidy cost on a per-rider fare basis on this plan will be enormous.
The interstate highway system was financed by the feds. For every dollare the state put toward construction, the feds put in 9. Transit will never be financed that way, but I do find it odd that you complain about them giving money to a mode that has proven to shape development patterns and have higher ridership over a mode that doesn't do either. And FYI, it isn't a private transit. Fort Worth is a public entity.
Think back a year to when times were good. The 7th street corridor was booming. Why would it need help? The southside was making good progress and I doubt that a streetcar to susbstitute for the already existing bus service would add much to the development pace or quality. And the Stockyards, which probably could use it best because it is a tourist based economy really wasn't in the plans anyway except to pacify the politicians.
Unless you disbelieve the developers themselves, part of the reason for the boom along 7th Street was the promise of the streetcar. WHy do you think that is going to be among the first?
Of all the excuses this is the most ridiculous. So,, somehow the prospective rider will see steel rails in the street and "know" that superior(?) transportation will be available at some time. Duh! Of course that rider has to be at a place where there is a streetcar stop and boarding sign. Just like the bus stop and boarding signs and shelters that exist now. The rider has no more idea when looking at those shiny rails where they go, or if they have been built and then, as used to happen in Fort Worth in the past, the line was disused for some reason either temporarily or permanently.
It's quite obvious you missed the point. A bus stop isn't permanent. Let me give you an real world, personal example. I used to work at 3500 Maple in Dallas. I did and still live at 1900 Elm. The bus I used to get to work was the #8. It picked me up a block away, went straight there and dropped me off in front of the building. At quitting time, it would pick me up on the opposite side of the street, go straight home and drop me off in front of my residential building. My wife now works a block away from my old building. However, the 8 no longer serves that area. So she has to get on the #31, which goes through downtown, then curves back up toward Maple and Oak Lawn. A bus ride that took me 10 minutes takes her over 20. Because the route wasn't permanent, the convenience that I had isn't afforded to her.
Except in areas where multiple routes can converge (and even then it is minor one block changes) streetcars don't change routes. Once a track is laid, you can be sure service will be here today and tomorrow, up until we put asphalt over the tracks (here's to hoping we learned out lesson the first time). Except when there has been an expansion, MATA hasn't altered service since it upened in 1989. 20 years later, the route still runs on the same track.
I thought the idea of the streetcar was to attract high income and presumably intelligent riders. Do they really need steel rails in the street at their IQ level? Most of them will be looking at the route map and schedule on their Blackberry instead.
A mild bus system like Fort Worth can be quite confusing. A larger one like Dallas, Houston or LA can be mind-boggling. To be fair, so can rail systems. New York, London or Shanghai can be confusing as well.