…get in the way of a good story. That’s what cynical old journalists told me way back when I was a cub reporter. Still true, as I’ve learned again in talking with some media folks — and even more, reading blog comments — about the Streetcar No. 1 restoration contract.
Here are some facts I reported to media people. Only a couple made it into any of their accounts.
Rust and rot damage on streetcar no. 1
- Amortized over the anticipated lifetime of this renovation (50 years), the project is more cost-effective than any other major Muni vehicle rehabilitation
- Muni is currently planning to spend about the same amount as the No. 1 contract to renovate EACH of the 150 Breda light rail vehicles on their property: a $275 million tab (unfunded to date). That renovation won’t be amortized over 50 years, but just 20, after which the Bredas are due for scrapping. And the Bredas need this work after just 10 years of service vs. No. 1’s 97 years.
- Over the life of the renovation, the cost is less than replacing streetcar No. 1 in the fleet with a plain old diesel bus. Those wear out and are scrapped every 12 years, so you’d need four buses over the life of the renovation. Those four would cost about $2 million in current dollars. Want lower-polluting hybrid buses? Much more. Want to match the zero-pollution of pure electric streetcar No. 1 with a trolley bus, which also lasts longer than diesels? It’d still cost more.
What’s more dispiriting than ignored facts, though, is the emergence of people who seem to think San Francisco should be more like, I don’t know, say, Houston. Homogenize everything. Wreck history. Lowest common denominator.
But then I remembered that the same kind of outcry came from the do-nothing crowd after the 1989 earthquake, when it was obvious that City Hall was no longer safe. Whatever else you may think of him, Mayor Brown stood up for doing it right, against a lot of criticism. Funny how no one is critical now that they’ve seen the results. I think we’ll see the same thing with streetcar No. 1.