Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System
This chart from the City of Portland, Oregon, documents how streetcars fit within a comprehensive transit system. In Portland, MAX is the name of the regional light-rail service. (From “Portland Streetcar System Concept Plan: A Framework for Future Corridor Planning and Alternatives Analysis.”)
A well-designed streetcar connects multiple destinations with predictable routes and relatively frequent service. Streetcars typically provide a convenient option for short trips, connections to other transit systems, and an easily identifiable transit route for tourists and visitors who may be unfamiliar with other services. The fixed track infrastructure creates a sense of permanence that encourages ridership and can also influence investment in development. As most streetcar users are likely to walk to stops, increased pedestrian activity is also likely to result from the installation of a streetcar line. This combined with investment in supporting pedestrian facilities can help improve the urban environment and the livability of neighborhoods.
In comparison to light-rail, streetcars generally travel shorter distances between stops, are often shorter than light-rail cars, and have slower average speeds (usually between 7-12 mph, after factoring in platform stops and other delays). While streetcars share certain similarities with local bus service, the permanent tracks and platforms help delineate to pedestrians and motorists the route of the streetcar and loading/unloading areas. It is important to note that streetcars should not be seen as a replacement for bus or light-rail service, but instead as a complementary part of a city’s transit system.
Authors and Acknowledgements