Letters for January 29, 2015

Easy streetcar fix

Re “Let it ride” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R News, January 22):

Simply get those motorized street cars—remember the ones on the K Street Mall? —out of storage and run them around. Could easily save $149 million. Would be nice to get them back on the mall as well.

Phelps Hobart


Streetcar blues

Re “Let it ride” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R News, January 22):

Well, here we go again. This time it’s a trolley streetcar line—yet another gussied-up capital project from this city’s administration. Again, the pitch for the project is long on pretense and based on a stilted belief that a trolley is a sure-fire trigger for effusive economic growth. The reality, however, finds us short on the money to pay for it.

As these modern streetcar/downtown shuttle systems have spread nationwide over the years, there has been a growing literature in government and academic circles studying their effectiveness and economic performance. Looking at the most recent evidence, however, doesn’t build confidence in the likely success of such a system here in Sacramento. That history shows that projects based on the “Build it, and the development will come!” principle don’t work by themselves as a trigger to growth. It also shows that city size matters: The smaller the downtown district being served, the less likely that a shuttle system will work. Particularly distressing is the complete demise of the downtown shuttle system in Austin. Austin, like Sacramento, is a state capital, a medium-sized city with a downtown with a governmental rather than commercial focus. Austin closed its shuttle service about five years ago, when ridership and the fare-box receipts couldn’t keep pace with increasing costs of service.

Hopefully, someone could help us examine the performance of other systems serving medium-sized cities in the state, like Long Beach and Fresno, to see how they’re doing. Perhaps you at SN&R will pick up the cudgel. Please consider doing so. The only thing we know for sure is that just like the arena project before it, the Bee and the Business Journal won’t.

Bill Reany


Bitker needs to be Humbled

Re “Fewer covers and more whiskey, please” by Janelle Bitker (SN&R Sound Advice, January 22):

In reading the review on Humble Wolf by Janelle Bitker, I truly wondered if she is a music critic and if she has listened to music more than her maybe 21-year-old self and can’t hold her whiskeys. (They let you drink and write?) Humble Wolf is the most hard-working and truly original local band that I have heard in my life, and I am a 58-year-old woman that has been to probably as many concerts as Bitker’s life span. They are fresh, new, creative and in the “in crowd”! They are all in more than one project and are always seeking perfection in everything they attempt. Cover songs are a part of every band’s “fillers” and are welcome amongst music lovers.

Have an open mind next time you go out to judge, and remember people read what “you” say.

Tanya Sherwood


Editor’s note: Bitker is not 21.