How do we get around? What impacts do our transportation systems have on the health of the planet, people, and economy? Over the past half-century, American development has largely embraced suburban sprawl, thereby making the personal automobile a near necessity. While other countries across Europe and Asia have charged full-speed ahead with high-speed rail and sophisticated public transit, America has puttered along, stuck idle in traffic.
The result? As President Obama said in his first Oval Office Address in June: "The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be right here in America. Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. And today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude."
For Daniel Jacobson, a Stanford undergrad and Richmond, CA native, the problems were clear enough - especially in nearby Oakland, where public health and the economy are stifled by a lack of transit and mobility. "I just wondered, what could Oakland do to turn things around?" Jacobson said. "What kind of project could Oakland have that would create economic development, that would reduce oil consumption, that would breathe new life into the city?" Over nine months, Jacobson compiled a 140-page report that addresses the feasibility and impact of a 2.5-mile streetcar line running through downtown. By Jacobson's estimates, the streetcar would spur the local economy by bringing in up to 24,000 new jobs, while decreasing the city's carbon footprint by up to 114,000 tons of CO2 annually. To many, the streetcar seems like the perfect way to get Oakland back on track and moving forward.
The Oakland Streetcar Plan has already been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Stanford Daily, and more. To see the full report and learn more, visit The Oakland Streetcar Plan.