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Clang! Mayor gets hip to restored trolley service

The city should consider restoring trolley service in sections of Brooklyn where streetcar service was once king, Mayor Bloomberg suggested this week.

In his transit reform plan unveiled this week, candidate Bloomberg suggested the adoption of a pilot light rail or street car service in sections of the city where existing trolley tacks lie dormant.

The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) is exploring creating new streetcar service in Red Hook and other waterfront neighborhoods, the mayor noted in the plan.

DOT expects to begin a study of streetcar feasibility in Red Hook by the end of the year. Funding for the study comes from a $295 thousand earmark from Rep. Nydia Velázquez.

Bob Diamond, the president and founder of the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association (BHRA), a group dedicated to restoring trolley service to the borough, said he was “thrilled” with this particular aspect of the transit reform plan.

In 2002, Diamond, an engineer by training, and his group installed a half mile of trolley track from the Beard Street Pier to Reed Street in Red Hook. “The obvious place to start would be Red Hook, because it is little served by public transportation,” Diamond said.

The BHRA has also worked with the graduate transportation engineering school at Polytechnic University to produce a multi-volume study on the return of trolleys to Downtown Brooklyn.

Diamond said trolley service could “provide a regular service, become a tourist attraction, and assist in community revitalization.”

DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan recently said that she thinks a new streetcar in Brooklyn could spur the local economy, Canada’s National Post reported. “The streetcar program is something that I’m looking at here. We threw away our streetcars, and you kept them. I think it’s a great economic development tool,” she said in April.

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