Who Will Pay for Streetcar Accidents?


We have reviewed reports of recent streetcar accidents and streetcar injuries from around the United States and Canada. It's evident that streetcars and streetcar tracks are inherently dangerous and cannot be made safe. Shared-street streetcars and streetcar tracks have caused numerous injuries to pedestrians and operators of all types of vehicles for over 100 years.

Based upon what's occurring in Toronto, Portland, Seattle, and elsewhere, Arlington would see hundreds of injuries once streetcar tracks were installed on Columbia Pike. Even bicycle riders who cross streetcar tracks at a 90 degree angle will slip if tracks are slippery. And Arlington's primary 'solution' to transportation problems is building more parking for non-resident commuters, and under wherever multi-unit residential buildings are constructed, then putting more residents on  bicycles.

Who will pay for the accidents? Ultimately, insurers and taxpayers. Using Portland and Seattle as examples, local attorneys and law firms will represent bicyclists, motorists, pedestrians and others who are injured. Health insurers will pay for most injuries. How many low-wage part-time workers will be covered by national health insurance in 2014 is uncertain. Who will pay if a truck hits a streetcar, the streetcar derails, and there are dozens of injuries?

Planning Columbia Pike streetcar system has nothing to do with transportation and, like Rail to Dulles, is all about development and redevelopment. As appalling as the 'safety last' mentality of County Government is the greed of the out-of-state real estate trusts, consultants, and developers.

The legacy of current Arlington County Board will ultimately be moral responsibility for the injuries, property damage, and litigation arising from construction of an unnecessary shared-street streetcar system on Columbia Pike.