Here is great post from Sean Tubbs and Kendall Singleton on the new committee working out the logistics of bringing a streetcar to Charlottesville.
A couple of brief quotes describing what is to be discussed on February 17;
Careful evaluation of the West Main corridor has revealed that it would likely be able to host a single streetcar track in the middle of the street. In the event of a streetcar stop, the track would split in two, with a stop creating a new median. This enables a potential streetcar to run on a predictable schedule without interruption from normal street traffic, with the additional benefit that riders getting on and off would only have to cross one lane of vehicular traffic.
How is a streetcar any different/more useful than the trolley?
Currently, CTS provides its most visible public transportation along West Main Street via its free bus service, known as the trolley. This special bus designed to look like an old-fashioned streetcar travels along much of the same pathway as its proposed replacement. The route is currently the most direct connection to the Mall and Grounds, and thus attracts both area residents and employees as well as those riders affiliated with UVa. During any given hour, there are three vehicles traveling in one direction along the loop. These buses share traffic with other wheeled vehicles, leading to potential delays for riders during rush hour. Annual expenses for the trolley come to a combined $1,026,000 in operating costs for CTS.
On the topic of consistency and sustainability…
Although far and away more expensive, a streetcar has a significant advantage over the existing trolley: it can either separate itself from existing street traffic via a distinct lane, or can utilize a “signal priority” system that turns traffic lights green with its approach, thus staying on a regular schedule. This consistency – at a pace that may be quicker than driving during rush hour – would be expected to attract those “choice” riders who currently avoid public transportation because of the unpredictability. One member of the Task Force says a streetcar’s advantage over a bus line is permanence.