Mayor Michael Bloomberg signaled his interest in bringing back streetcar service in growing waterfront areas like Red Hook at a campaign event Monday, and the president of the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association says he couldn't be more thrilled. NY1 Transit reporter Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
There was a time not long ago when it seemed Brooklyn trolleys might enjoy a revival. Under the leadership of Bob Diamond, president of the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association, track was laid, and some cars even made short demonstration runs along the Red Hook waterfront.
But then the city pulled the plug on the project, and the trolley cars have sat dormant ever since. Only now, the mayor wants to give trolleys another look.
"I'm just completely thrilled that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has realized the merits of the trolley project," Diamond said.
Bloomberg signaled his interest in trolleys at a campaign event Monday, where he unveiled a number of new transportation proposals.
"We'll look into the feasibility of using the city's old trolley tracks to create new streetcar service in growing waterfront neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn, starting in Red Hook," said Bloomberg.
Red Hook is a prime candidate because development along the waterfront is growing, and because the area is underserved by mass transit. What's more, Diamond says, is the fact that trolleys can hold about two busloads of passengers, and have zero emissions.
And, Diamond says the infrastructure is relatively cheap to build. Even old cars can still be restored.
"A light rail or a streetcar line usually costs about one-twentieth of what a subway line would cost," Diamond said. "And they're outside, and they use existing streets, so there's no right-of-way acquisition and the track can be built very quickly."
The next step is a Department of Transportation study that will look at the feasibility of a light rail or trolley system in Red Hook. The study is being paid for with about $300,000 in federal funding, and is expected to begin later this year.