Streetcars are the hottest thing in the downtown revitalization business these days. They're in operation in Portland and Seattle and in planning and construction stage in places like Washington, D.C., Oklahoma City, Cincinnati, Fort Lauderdale and Kansas City. And don't worry – California will get its share of streetcars as well, especially Southern California. The Downtown Los Angeles streetcar appears all but certain to be open by around 2016, and three Orange County cities – Anaheim, Santa Ana, and Fullerton – are exploring the idea.
If a new generation of transportation advocates and federal officials has their way, California will soon have miles of brand-new rail lines, strategically sited to enliven cities, increase real estate values, and whisk passengers several whole blocks at speeds ofï¿½ nearly 20 miles per hour.
High-speed rail, it's not. But $40 billion, it's not either.