Reno is primed for fantastic transit
There is so much to think about when talking about the prospect of a streetcar in Reno. The most important, in my opinion, is the role of the streetcar in shaping the community. Shaping the way we move around in it, the way we shop and get entertained, the way we get to work, and the places in which we live.
This article highlights some global trends encouraged by economics, class consciousness, energy use, marketing, and more.
Throughout the world, as countries' citizens become wealthier, their demand for cars explodes. We in the United States have led this trend, starting in the early 1900s. The personal car is a symbol of freedom held very dearly in our country, and the widespread access to cars in the US is envied the world over.
However, there are many benefits of using alternative methods of transit. Its cheaper by many measures. Roads and highways are funded predominately by general funds, not user fees (i.e. they don't pay for themselves); while critics of mass transit explain that it isn't viable because it doesn't pay for itself with fares alone. Mass transit systems encourage compact cities where many amenities are clustered within walking distance. This increases accessibility to more of the things that make up a city and it increases the range of customers for a given store or restaurant. Compact cities encourage using multiple methods of getting around (e.g. riding a bus then walking a few blocks). This allows multitasking while commuting and makes us get off our butts to walk a few blocks, passing by neighbors and getting a some fresh air before work.
These are just a few of the many benefits that a streetcar could bring to Reno. In fact our city is primed for it. Areas already experiencing revitalization like the ballpark/Freight House district and South Virginia to Plumb are aiming to bring in younger professionals and new grads to live there... people who want mass transit and want walkable neighborhoods with many amenities close by. Also downtown Reno is surrounded on its east and west sides by areas prime for redevelopment. Compare the areas from Sierra to Keystone or Virginia to Wells and beyond to the Pearl District in Portland, OR. And finally Reno has some unique and significant features which will continue to lure great companies and talented workers here. These are the University of Nevada and our location next to world-class outdoors. The people drawn by these want a city shaped with great transit and planning.