Streetcars are desired in Minn.

Using trolley cars encourages a transport system that is environmentally friendly.

The Minneapolis City Council will be looking at a proposal for a streetcar line linking Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles with the Hiawatha light-rail line. Although the streetcar system for the Midtown Greenway is still in the early proposal stages, it is a positive idea that should receive serious consideration.

There appear to be few drawbacks to the streetcar line proposal. Already, 13 neighborhood groups have lined up in support of the proposal. The proposed route connects busy areas east and west of Interstate 35W in a way that is both agreeable to neighborhood groups and some City Council members. Crucially, it connects to the Hiawatha light-rail line. The relationship between the streetcar line and the Hiawatha light-rail line would be symbiotic. Hiawatha passengers would be enticed to take trolleys west to Nicollet and Lyndale avenues, and residents would be encouraged to take the trolleys to connect to the Hiawatha line.

The current proposal calls for the recommissioning of streetcars from Minneapolis’ original lines. The streetcars, of course, would be retrofitted to allow peak performance. Not only does the streetcar line hint at nostalgia, it hints at the future. Using trolley cars instead of buses encourages a transport system that is not only more reliable, but more environmentally friendly – not to mention that anything encouraging public-transit use is a good thing.

A positive response to this proposal would likely encourage the planning of more feeder lines connecting to the Hiawatha light-rail line, and they would help each other survive. And perhaps as progressive cities in Europe and Australia, the public transit system would be the heart of the city.

The major issue, as always, is cost. Currently, estimates for the streetcar line place the cost at $53 million. Fifty years after automobile manufacturers successfully lobbied for the death of Minneapolis’ streetcars, the costs of much-needed public transit infrastructure continue to go up every year. Because the streetcar line is still in its proposal stage, it might be five years before trolleys are zipping through the Midtown Greenway. The sooner the better.