From this article on Milwaukee receiving federal funding for the construction of a modern streetcar:
Modern streetcars resemble light rail vehicles, but are smaller and less expensive. Otherwise, they spur the same kind of debate as light rail: Supporters say a fixed rail system stimulates economic development and provides a transportation option that is attractive to both visitors and residents, while opponents say it’s too costly and isn’t as flexible as a bus line.
As envisioned by Barrett, the streetcars would run in a three-mile loop that links downtown destinations to the Amtrak-Greyhound station. It would connect not only with existing trains and buses but also tie in with proposals for commuter rail and high-speed trains.
That loop could be viewed as a starter system that could be expanded later, said Barrett and Ald. Bob Bauman, another supporter.
“Once you have something in the ground, the debate will change from ‘This is the end of Western civilization as we know it’ to ‘How do we get this line extended to Miller Park,’ ” the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and other destinations, Barrett said. That has been the pattern in other cities where light rail lines became popular despite the controversy that preceded them, he noted.