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Last update:
June 23, 2004.

Brooklyn City Streetcar Company Brooklyn City Streetcar Company, Inc.
A Vision for Brooklyn's Future

Out of our past . . . a better future!

With the advent of the new Brooklyn Bridge Park, stretching one and a half miles along the East River shoreline, and the revitalization of neighborhoods along the Brooklyn waterfront there is a crying need for public transportation in the area. The park itself must be served and access provided and the newly transformed neighborhoods require connections to the greater transportation network.

Enter Brooklyn City Streetcar Company (BCSC), a new not-for-profit corporation created to embark on the mission to return the trolleys to their former home in Brooklyn, where they are sorely needed today. With the recognition of light rail, or electric traction, as the urban transit of the future, BCSC plans to bring history into the present and beyond with an ambitious, but imminently achievable, three pronged plan to use trolleys that run on clean, non-polluting electricity and use less than 20 percent of the energy of a diesel bus. And besides, in cities with both trolleys and buses, most people prefer riding the rails. Wouldn't you?

BCSC proposes to run a streetcar line through the park, from Atlantic Avenue to DUMBO, using vintage trolleys from various eras, fully restored to their original condition and updated to meet today's more rigorous standards. Passage through the park will connect its facilities while creating an ambience all its own. As envisioned, a visitor to the park could purchase a single ride or an all day pass, allowing them to enjoy all features of the park, as well as the historic trolleys, for the duration of their stay.

In order to provide access to the park as well as to create a transportation link for the surrounding neighborhoods of Fulton Ferry, DUMBO, Vinegar Hill, the Farragut Houses and the Navy Yard with its new movie studio, lines will be built from Fulton Ferry Landing, along the outskirts of the park using the same track as the park line, to DUMBO, meeting with another coming from the Navy Yard, and then south to Borough Hall, connecting with MTA facilities. An arrangement with the MTA would allow passengers on these lines to use the MetroCard, with free intermodal connections to existing subway and bus lines. The system is expandable and can eventually reach out to several parts of the borough that are currently underserved. Trolleys running on the street will be fully restored and updated PCC cars dating from the mid-1930's to the early 1950's. These were the first true light rail cars, capable of accelerating and braking with today's traffic and having about twice the passenger capacity of a bus. In addition to providing clean, energy efficient transportation, as the last type to run in Brooklyn, they will surely lend an ambience to these neighborhoods long absent in the borough.

Considering the cultural aspects of BCSC's plan, as well as the park's plan to encompass cultural institutions in its development, the third part of BCSC's plan is to create a living museum in or adjacent to the grounds, highlighting trolleys and other vintage forms of local transport. The museum would be independent of, but work closely with, the NYC Transit Museum.

Who, why and how?
So, what is BCSC all about? Who created it and how does it plan to achieve its goals? And, most importantly in these times of gross budget deficits, who will pay? BCSC is based on a concept whose time is long overdue; bringing clean, efficient, sensible public transportation back to Brooklyn, once known for the trolleys crisscrossing its streets and home of the fabled Trolley Dodger. The idea is not an original one. There have been attempts to bring back trolleys since they were banished from our streets in 1956. For various reasons; red tape, lack of support, improper organization or insufficient funding; none has succeeded. But now, with the recognition of light rail as an efficient means of transport and the revitalization of the city, its neighborhoods and parks, the time has come.

BCSC founders, Arthur Melnick, Director of Administration and Public Relations and a Brooklyn native, and Jan Lorenzen, Director of Technical and Engineering and a long time resident, have both been active in community affairs, have an interest in the borough's history and in its public transportation system and, most importantly, have the experience and ability to accomplish the objectives set forth. But can two people actually accomplish such lofty goals? Of course not; at least, not alone! Two people can however, create a viable and flexible plan, garnish support, oversee it and implement it.

Firstly, BCSC places the needs and concerns of the community it serves as its foremost priority. As a not-for-profit organization, the "accountability to shareholders" policies that plague so many projects today do not exist. Surely, there is a need to meet expenses but the extreme zeal of "profits first" does not apply. Accountability is to the community, with which BCSC intends to work and become part of, and, of course, to the governing agencies overseeing the project. BCSC's primary goal is to create a system that best accounts for the community's greater needs.

BCSC has been in contact with trolley and rail groups and has already been promised several trolleys on permanent loan. Professionals and fans alike are very excited over the prospect of a realistic attempt being made to return trolleys to our fair town. Additional help, materials and expertise will be forthcoming as soon as soon as facilities are procured.

BCSC has contacted professional consulting groups with experience in projects of this type. (It's hard to believe how many are underway in cities large and small throughout the nation.) All necessary feasibility and engineering reports will be done by professionals with many years of experience in the field. In fact, all aspects of the project that require specific expertise and skills will be undertaken by the appropriate professionals.

So, who pays?
And now for the best part: the cost to the city will be virtually nothing! Federal and private money should cover all costs. Federal programs exist to provide funding for projects of this sort. By working together with local government agencies, enough money can be obtained through these programs to cover most major expenses and, as a not-for-profit, BCSC is eligible for numerous private grants. Remember, in addition to transportation, BCSC's agenda includes clean air, energy efficiency, education, history, culture and more. Grants are available for all of these. And, in addition to a professional staff, the BCSC, as a not-for-profit heritage project, intends to make full use of volunteers and interns.

The dream at BCSC is that clean, energy efficient trolleys will once again ride over the rails of our borough and that the entire greater community will join with us in bringing our history back home to create a better future for us, for our children and for many future generations of Brooklynites.
--Arthur Melnick, January 2004

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