In this editorial in the Indy Star, there is a mention of in-street light rail along Washington Street, which prompted me to ponder the difference between in-street light rail and streetcars. I did a bit of research on the issue to see if I could clear this up. I have to mention that I used Wikipedia, but I don’t mind that website on non-controversial issues such as this. There is also a nice comparison that I found (via google) that originated in the City of Tucson, although this features a dedicated right-of-way, as opposed to the in-street variety proposed in Indianapolis’ long-range plan.
Basically, there are 2 main distinctions between these two modes:
- They are designed to have higher speeds.
- They have a larger carrying capacity.
There may be others that I’m not aware of, and if you know of any please let me know in the comments.
With regards to the specific proposal (number of stops and overall design), we will have to wait to see what Indy Connect will plan, as it is planned to take place after the more conventional Fishers Light Rail line is in service. Also, others have mentioned that a light rail extension from Washington Street to the airport terminal is needed, and I certainly can not disagree on this. Having traveled quite a bit, I know that among the first things that I look for when I land is the rail connection to the downtown area.