Last month, the Department of Transportation announced that it will fork over an $18 million TIGER grant for the first phase of Fort Lauderdale's proposed Wave Streetcar. The plan, which city officials have been molding since 2004, features a ten-station, 2.7-mile trolley-like system intended to shuttle folks around downtown.
Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Alcee Hastings praised the federal windfall, saying it will create jobs, promote sustainability, and make getting around downtown less horrible. But will a few shiny new street cars and information kiosks cut through a deeply ingrained driving culture and reinvent transportation?
Randal O'Toole, a scholar with libertarian think-tank the Cato Institute, says absolutely not. "I like to call it faith-based transportation planning," he tells New Times. "They don't consider reality. All the planners consider is what they wish people would do."
A report recently written by O'Toole called The Great Streetcar Conspiracy argues that streetcars, monorails, light rails, and whatever else you want to call them are an elaborate ruse concocted by engineering firms, contractors, and elected officials to bilk billions in tax dollars.