From 1889 to 1937,
Electric Streetcars carried the people of Huntington from their
homes to their shops and jobs. Huntington's rapid growth from the
1890's to the 1930's followed these rail tracks. One can see an
example the Huntington's Southside which was developed specifically
for the use of this type of transportation. Some of the elements
of this system, such as wide curbs, and even some tracks remain
visible throughout the city.
Electric Trolley Association (HETA) commits to be a catalyst
in bringing an historic streetcar system back to downtown Huntington.
By recapturing a fascinating part of our past, this system will
enhance the city's quality of life and provide opportunities for
that the need for improved mobility coupled with nostalgia to preserve
the livability of the city for its residents, points to a return
to an electric streetcar along Fourth Avenue can accomplish a number
of worthwhile goals such as:
A streetcar can
provide a visible and attractive means of mobility linking the Marshall
University Campus with Huntington's Downtown Business and Commercial
District. A "Funnel Effect" to provide more flow between
these two community assets.
of an electric streetcar is consistent with the urban design framework
of the area, and thus helps to visually unify it.
produces no immediate pollution.
streetcar serving Fourth Avenue can provide a high-capacity circulation
link, connecting with the rubber-tired bus system of the Tri-State
Transit Authority's Greyhound Bus Station and the new Pullman
combination of bi-directional service and expanded parking intercepts
can increase access for employees and local customers of the many
hotels, shops, and restaurants in the downtown.
of the San Francisco cable cars, but on a smaller scale, a restored
streetcar line would be an attraction in itself, and thus add
to the appeal and charm of a visit to Huntington.
these goals in mind, the Huntington Electric Trolley Association
has created a feasibility study of restoring an electric trolley
in Huntington. Below is a summary of that work.
Experience and Benefits Realized in Other Cities
In recent years,
a number of American cities and towns have built vintage streetcar
lines or have begun planning for such a system. Descriptions of
several operating and planned systems are contained in the In
Other Cities section of this site. For operating systems, surveys
in various cities have shown that the vintage streetcar line has
had a positive impact and is viewed with favor as a community attraction.
Available evidence indicates that benefits are maximized when the
streetcar is planned and implemented as part of a concerted and
broad-based program of improvements in a community. Further, the
benefits require support of business leaders, particularly those
whose establishments are served by the line. Finally, benefits accrue
over a fairly long time span, and are not realized immediately.
There is a definite need to further explore and quantify the specific
economic benefits which are possible in Huntington, and such a detailed
study is highly recommended to be undertaken as one of the next
steps in the project.
The proposed route
runs along Fourth Avenue from the western Hal Greer Boulevard intersection
to eastern 8th Street intersection. This line would provide direct
service to virtually the entire Downtown. This route would link
to the present area-wide rubber-tired TTA bus service at the Pullman
Square terminus, and will link Marshall's campus to the downtown
for convenience and additional parking.
is composed of four lanes of traffic and two lanes of parking. Therefore,
fitting the streetcar into the right-of-way will have impacts on
both traffic and parking. Potential mitigation of these impacts
includes construction of additional angled off street parking on
intersecting Streets. These mitigation measures are discussed more
fully in Alignment Accessment section
of the site. and are included in the capital cost estimates.
will not generate exhaust and will be propelled by electric power.
Like the streetcars of by-gone days, this will require a single
wire suspended over the center of the track. Other cities have reported
no unfavorable impacts as a result of the overhead wire, provided
the system is properly designed. The support poles can also be used
for street lights and signage, and can be an attractive unifying
urban design element.
A storage and
maintenance facility is recommended to be located at the existing
TTA station (aka "Greyhound Station". As part of this
facility, a small interpretive museum may be provided on the exterior
of the building to educate people on it's history.
A replica streetcar
is recommended by HETA. The car will be historically authentic,
featuring varnished wood interiors and brightly painted exteriors.
They will provide full accessibility for all users. They will seat
approximately 40 passengers, with room for standees in heavy rider
periods. Details of the vehicle options considered may be found
in Vehicles section of the site.
are described in Operations section
of the site. It is important to note that the streetcar will operate
in both directions along Fourth Avenue. It is anticipated the schedule
would be a car every 15 minutes between the hours of 7AM and 10PM.
streetcar system is estimated to cost $2,893,698. This estimate
includes track, power distribution, vehicles, passenger stops, and
a maintenance facility. It also includes both the roadway and parking
mitigation measures mentioned above. Engineering and design costs
are calculated as a percentage of the project. Because of the preliminary
nature of the project, a 25% contingency is included in the overall
cost estimate. The capital cost estimate will be refined as part
of the engineering and detailed design phase.
Estimates of operating
costs are based on data from comparable systems, as are rough ridership
projections, and the results discussed in the Operating
Costs portion of the site. Actual net operating results will
vary, depending on the service alternative selected, the fare structure,
and the unit cost per mile which will be experienced in Huntington.
For a mid-range unit cost of $12/mile, the system will require an
annual operating subsidy of about $11,000. If unit costs can be
reduced to $10/mile or less, the system will reach or exceed breakeven.
On the other hand, if actual unit costs rise to $15/mile, and the
maximum service level is provided, the annual deficit could reach
$. The control of costs and service level is largely within the
purview of Huntington, and thus requires careful attention as the
project proceeds to implementation.
portion of the site discusses a number of Federal, state and local
sources of funding for both capital and operating costs. The purpose
of this discussion is to identify sources and to suggest possible
elements of a funding package for the Huntington project. At this
early stage, there are no guarantees that funding can be obtained,
but it certainly appears that given strong community support and
concerted efforts by elected officials and business leaders, such
a package can be developed. The exact definition of a funding plan
tailored for the Huntington streetcar project will be a key element
of the next phase of the work.
The vintage trolley
system could be operated in one of several manners:
as part of TTA system and operated by their personnel.
by a separate non-profit organization such as Cincinnati Street
Railway with a combination of paid and volunteer help.
contracted out to other existing transportation companies, a "privatization"
approach encouraged by the FTA.
Each of these
approaches has its advantages as well as disadvantages which would
need further consideration. The system would operate with fare box
revenues as does any transit system. However, like every other transit
system in the United States, it would need to be subsidized. Subsidies
could be provided in the manner used to support TTA, namely FTA
Section 9 funding as well as the Huntington Service Fees. Another
possible source of funds would be assistance from the business community,
which will benefit from the vintage trolley. This also has been
done in other cities.
section of the site provides an overview of the process of implementing
the Huntington streetcar. It identifies the work to be done in the
next phase, as well as a potential schedule leading to actual operation
of the system in May, 2005.
an electric streetcar system in Huntington, as proposed by the Huntington
Electric Trolley Association, can provide significant benefits to
the community, is feasible from an engineering standpoint, and appears
capable of being funded.