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Toronto Transit Commission streetcar 4405.


Streetcars are transit vehicles that operate using steel wheels on steel rails. They are capable of operating in either mixed traffic or on their own right-of-way, and are generally powered by an overhead electrical power supply, although there are systems that use a low-mounted third rail or even onboard diesel power plants. They tend to be smaller and lighter than "heavy rail" subway vehicles, but in many cases are able to be coupled in multiple to increase their capacity. The majority of the streetcars in the world are single deckers although there are at least two systems in the world that still operate double decker streetcars.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Streetcars

The advantages of streetcars are that they often do not produce any street-level pollution - because many are electrically powered, pollution is able to be monitored at a single source. They are also frequently larger than buses, and this coupled with their ability to couple to each other means that one operator is capable of moving far larger numbers of people than that same operator with a bus. Studies have shown as well that more people are inclined to use a streetcar line than a bus line, as once the transit property has invested in the infrastructure there is a sense of "permanence" with the line.

The disadvantages of streetcars are that streetcar systems are expensive to buy and build - fewer streetcars are built around the world than buses, and quite a bit of infrastructure is necessary to allow a line to operate, far more so than necessary than to operate a bus line. At lower frequencies and passenger loads, operating costs can also be higher than with buses.

Agencies with Streetcar Systems


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Heritage Railways




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Public Transit
Types Commuter Rail - Light rail - Streetcar - Subway
Transit Buses
Types Articulated Bus - Bus Rapid Transit - Double Decker Bus - Low Floor Bus - Highway Coach - Shuttle Bus - Trolley Bus
Fuel Compressed Natural Gas - Diesel - Diesel-Electric Hybrid - Gasoline - Hydrogen Fuel Cell - Liquified Natural Gas
Manufacturers Alexander Dennis - Blue Bird - ElDorado National - Gillig - Motor Coach Industries - New Flyer Industries - North American Bus Industries - Nova Bus - Orion International - Prevost Car - Setra - Thomas Built Buses - Van Hool
VIN Pages Alexander Dennis - Blue Bird - Champion - Designline - ElDorado National - Flxible - Flyer Industries - General Motors - Gilig - Ikarus USA - Millennium Transit Services - Motor Coach Industries - New Flyer Industries - Neoplan USA - North American Bus Industries - Nova Bus - Optima Bus - Orion Bus Industries - Prevost Car - Setra - TEMSA - Thomas Built Buses - Transportation Manufacturing Corporation - TransBus International - Van Hool