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What's a "Street Trolley?"

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, July 31, 2009, at 12:20PM
Portland Streetcar Trip Eric Richardson [Flickr]

A modern streetcar in Portland, OR.

The L.A. Times has a short piece on the Downtown streetcar effort running this morning on its L.A. Now blog. In a twist, though, it calls the proposed car a "street trolley."

I understand streetcar. I understand trolley. But "street trolley?"

Transportation planners are considering three different routes for a proposed street trolley that would run through downtown Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Street Car Inc. has been working with city officials and downtown property owners on the trolley concept, which is designed to connect the sprawling city center. It comes as officials are working on a plan to revive the movie palaces along Broadway, which is where the streetcar would run.

The Times also used the street trolley term in a January 2008 article on the Bringing Back Broadway effort, but it doesn't have any real history of doing so. A quick search of the Times' own archives reveals only 77 matches for "street trolley" (and many of those are in cases like "10th street trolley"). There are 9596 matches for "streetcar."

The trolley term (though certainly not this street trolley twist) was widely used early in the project's life, but advocates prefer the word streetcar to separate the operation of today's modern systems from the idea of a historic toy.


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