Sunday, June 01, 2008

Quiet and Clean

Trackless trolleys aren't greatly superior to buses, but they're a little bit better.

The trackless trolleys are back.

But not in South Philadelphia.

Five years after SEPTA's board voted to suspend all trackless trolley service for one year, the first of 38 new electric trolleys are gliding through the streets of Northeast Philadelphia. Their return revives an 85-year-old transportation tradition in the city.

Quiet and clean and with a new ability to maneuver "off wire," the trackless trolleys have another advantage over buses these days: With the cost of diesel fuel skyrocketing, they're cheaper to run.

Trackless trolleys cost $2.54 per mile to operate and maintain, compared with $2.76 for diesel buses, according to SEPTA.

I do hope SEPTA has someone "thinking big" about dream projects in Philadelphia. President Obama, urban dweller, will hopefully make those pots of federal money a bit more mass transit friendly.

The city has come back into pop culture as something other than a post-apocalyptic nightmare. Let's hope it returns to our politics, too.