CNU XV Blog, Part 6.5: Does the Trolley Matter?
One issue that came to me after the Girard Avenue trolley tour was: does the trolley matter? Will it really make Brewerytown or Northern Liberties more appealing?
In the short run, I don't think the Girard Avenue trolley adds that much, since there is no major job center on Girard Avenue. The major attraction of Northern Liberties is its proximity to Center City, not its proximity to Girard Avenue (most of which is less appealing than either Northern Liberties or Center City). The trolley is a bit more useful to Brewerytown, since it does facilitate access to the restaurants and bars of Northern Liberties. But even for Brewerytown, the major selling points are still probably access to parks and the Philadelphia Zoo (both within walking distance), Center City (which can be reached by foot or bus but not trolley) and perhaps regional expressways to suburbia.
In the long run, the trolley might be a bit more helpful, by creating more customers for Northern Liberties entertainment and thus facilitating that area's emergence as a significant entertainment district. And if that happens, areas with trolley access to Northern Liberties will themselves become somewhat more appealing. So certainly the trolley does marginally improve Girard Avenue neighborhoods- but is probably not as important as transit that runs to major employment centers (whether urban or suburban).
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