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St. Paul contemplates bringing back streetcars

In the future, St. Paul could once again have a streetcar system.

Right now, the city is weighing its options, with the help of a San Francisco consulting firm, Nelson\Nygaard, which is conducting a feasibility study on the topic, according to Nancy Homans, a policy advisor to Mayor Chris Coleman.

The study, which will probably take a year to complete, entails “doing preliminary work around possible routes and identifying criteria by which we’ll evaluate both the geometrics of the street and transit ridership issues," she says.

Funding for the $250,000 study comes from the city, Ramsey County, the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, the McKnight Foundation and the Saint Paul Foundation, according to Finance and Commerce.

Over the next year, the city, with the help of the consulting firm, will also be asking for feedback from the public on its findings.

The city’s streetcars went away about 40 years ago. “It was once a well-developed system,” she says.

The reason streetcars are coming up these days is because “They are a good transit type of vehicle. People appreciate the fixed route,” she says, adding that the economic development impact has also been demonstrated.

“They support the business node and link into the larger regional system,” she says.

In this case, the city hopes that streetcars will build on the coming Central Corridor light rail transit line.

This is something that cities around the country are looking at. “The conversation has been, ‘how we do improve transit in the city,’” she says, adding, “I think this is a logical next step.”  

For St. Paul, getting there means working closely with Minneapolis, which already did its own feasibility study, and other regional partners to figure out financing. “We want to work together on common issues,” she says.

Source: Nancy Homans, policy advisor to mayor Chris Coleman, city of St. Paul
Writer: Anna Pratt


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