Why streetcars?

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In "Ah, streetcars!" (Forum, April 28), Jeff Lynd reminds us of the time streetcars in Salt Lake City went up and down every few city streets (State, 200, 700, 900 and 1500 East streets), and he calls for their return.

I'm all for "broad use of public transportation" to help the environment, but we do not need to return to electric street cars. We already have public transportation going up and down every few streets — buses. We don't need to spend millions laying track and overhead wires.

When it comes to public transportation, we could help the environment more by doing two things with the millions that would be spent on streetcars:

1. Switch to buses powered by natural gas, which pollute a lot less (or switch to electric busses as in San Francisco).

2. Make buses free or 50 cents a ride. That'd dramatically increase ridership and reduce auto use and pollution.

These ideas could be implemented a lot faster than the decades it would take to change to street cars, and buses are more flexible to respond to changing public tastes and needs.

Lynd is right, however, that we need a lot more commitment to public transportation.

Peter Jenkins

Salt Lake City