Day: April 22, 2009

Streetcars Benefit the Environment

Posted on Updated on

According to the City of Cincinnati Climate Protection Plan, building the Cincinnati Streetcar will reduce pollution and CO2 emissions. The environmental benefits of the streetcar are numerous. People riding the streetcar rather taking private automobiles or taxis will prevent 4,321 tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere each year.

The streetcar will increase the number of residents in Downtown, Uptown and Over the Rhine. These dense, walkable neighborhoods allow residents to run errands and do their shopping without ever having to use an automobile. With the Streetcar linking all these neighborhoods together, someone living along the line could access virtually everything they need by streetcar. In addition, dense settlement patterns reduce greenhouse gases because housing units are generally smaller, more energy-efficient, and have reduced thermal losses because of attached construction compared to older, single-family homes. The Climate Protection Plan estimates that the denser settlement patterns of along the streetcar line will result in an additional 25,995 tons of CO2 not being emitted a year.

Powering the Streetcar may result in emissions, but because the Streetcar is run on electricity, it gives the City considerable flexibility in determining a power source. Renewable energy like wind, solar, hydroelectric or geothermal could be purchased for the Streetcar through programs like this one from Duke Energy. Even if the Streetcar is run on conventional electricity, generation would only result in 2,248 tons of CO2, resulting in a net reduction of 28,068 tons of CO2.

The Streetcar not only reduces emissions, but it also displaces them. Cincinnati sits in the middle of a valley that traps pollution and smog. The streetcar will transfer the emissions that would otherwise be emitted by tailpipes at street level to distant smokestacks outside of the valley—moving the emissions off the streets on which children play and the elderly and other sensitive groups traverse.

Help the Environment—Build the Streetcar.