Monday, December 22, 2008

Boss Godfrey Returns From Europe: Touts French Wireless Street Cars as "Unique"

Aesthetically acceptable Bordeaux-style street cars might be applicable to Ogden's public transit needs, Godfrey admits

Now that Boss Godfrey has returned from his European Street Car Study Junket, he's started talking about his findings. To our good fortune, reporters from the Standard-Examiner made themselves available to take notes. Here's the gist from this morning's Scott Schwebke/Mitch Shaw story:
OGDEN — Mayor Matthew Godfrey says a whirlwind tour earlier this month of six European cities gave him insight into cutting edge streetcar technology that could benefit Ogden.
The trip from Dec. 9-16 took Godfrey to Vienna, Austria; Munich, Germany; Zurich, Switzerland, and the French cities of Nice, Bordeaux and Paris. [...]
The most unique streetcar system with possible applications for Ogden was found in Bordeaux, Godfrey said.
Instead of overhead lines, the Bordeaux operation is powered by a pedestrian-safe electric supply system buried in the ground, according to American Public Transportation’s Web site at www.apta. com.
The system could be beneficial to Ogden because it would eliminate the need for unsightly overhead lines and the price would likely be no more than 3 percent higher than a conventional streetcar system, said Godfrey.
“I definitely want something wireless and this is the best technology I’ve seen,” Godfrey said.
"Eliminate the need for unsightly overhead lines?" Quite a transformation, we think, for the "visionary" little feller who only last year still "envisioned" this ghastly monstrosity as the most desirable (and visually prominent) feature to be added to the future Emerald City streetscape. That's a step in the right direction... we think. There's nothing like a trip through the old cities of Europe, of course, to provide even a rube from Harrisville, Utah a new appreciation of the inherent value and wisdom of clean aesthetics.

And we can't fail to note that Godfrey concedes that the Bordeaux wireless streetcars are "unique." As every Weber County Forum reader knows, unique is only a click or two down the Godfrey preference scale from "cool and sexy."

Here's a view of the Bordeaux wireless streetcar, by the way:

Last week we posed the question: "Anybody want to make a side bet on whether or not our Emerald City Mayor will return to town [from Europe] raving about street cars?" Not surprisingly, we didn't get any takers willing to wager that Godfrey would fall in love with European streetcar technology.

Given the paucity of info provided in today's story, it's certainly too early to draw any firm conclusions about whether Godfrey's public transit affections have been won over to transportation alternatives designed for grownups. Nevertheless, we'll go out on a limb and tentatively offer this observation: At least at this juncture he's talking about streetcars as a viable public transit option... and no longer raving about gondolas. That's progress, we suppose.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?


OgdenLover said...

I agree that the wireless streetcars are neat. However, a quick check on the weather in Bordeaux shows that they never get below freezing and have an average of about 3" of precipitation a month. I hope this system would work here. It's an attractive system.

googleboy said...

Tramway de Bordeaux

Ground-level power supply

googleboy said...

Bordeaux Climate

watching it happen said...

Maybe we could get a wireless tram to go up malan's basin.

Bill C. said...

Is it just me or have some of you noted that there is not one buried powerline along any of the proposed routes? I don't particularly like the look of overhead power lines, but unless you bury them all what's the diff? I doubt that the 3% added cost figure is real, lying little matty has been known to pull figure straight from his anal orifice almost every time. Could be trying to drive the cost up in an effort to justify more beloved overhead arial cable contraptions. Gondolas.
I wonder if all this premature busyness at the top of 36th st isn't an effort to influence the transit study to his preffered routing?

Ogden Dem said...

Does anyone know exactly how many transportation studies Ogden has paid for since Godfrey has been in office?

The Ogden City Propaganda Department said...

Ummmm... NONE?

Why should Godfrey do feasibility studies, when he's guided by God Almighty?

Tell us who you are, and which ward you come from, Ogden Dem, so that we can send over some persuasive missionaries to help you get your mind right.


The Ogden City Propaganda Department

Curmudgeon said...

Off topic comment appropriately promoted to the main page

Rafiki said...

Looks like a sweet deal. European living really is the new American dream. Might as well start learning from them.

shaking my head at local government said...

i like the system design but like bill c i would assume the system costs more than the 3% premium to the overhead wire system.
two interesting notes in the story to me were first the statement that the trip was to explore viable mass-transit options for the corridor extending from slc to ogden. excuse me but isnt that what the front runner accomplishes.
second the $125 million dollar ogden streetcar project cost figure. interesting that the number that godfrey has touted at 200 to 300 million when he was comparing streetcars to a gondola is now 125. or was it always 125 but now he wants to support the effort and is willing to talk real costs. interesting.
also that the spokeman for the wasatch front regional council says that ogden will need a streetcar system by 2015 if not sooner. thanks godfrey for stalling the efforts of those that tried to get a streetcar system funded by that date but were thorted by your itiotic urban gondola idea.

dan s. said...

Meanwhile, in yesterday's paper, we read:

Several Utah cities have released detailed lists of projects that could create jobs if a bailout for “Main Street” is approved by Congress, but few in the Top of Utah have caught stimulus fever.

Released Friday, the third edition of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ “Ready to Go” report includes lists of projects submitted by 641 mayors, including mayors from Salt Lake City, Provo and Orem. In the Top of Utah, only Brigham City participated in the conference’s report....

Salt Lake City’s priciest item is $175 million for two TRAX line extensions in the downtown area, but there is also $50 million for a streetcar system in Sugarhouse, and dozens of others.

If our mayor had not delayed the streetcar alternatives analysis by three years, we'd now be ready to put it forward alongside these projects in Salt Lake. But our mayor spent those three years saying we could never afford a streetcar, and that federal funding was getting more and more difficult.

Thanks, Mayor Godfrey.

Blogden said...

According to the Wikipedia article Mayor Godfrey missed the cost increase slightly: Sources suggest that APS adds about €100,000 to the cost of the trams, whilst the infrastructure is about 300% more expensive than overhead wires.[citation needed --

Curmudgeon said...

Dan's point is right on the money, and it highlights the mayor's habit of thinking long on financing projects he likes and is trying to sell, and short on projects he's trying to derail [pun intended].

When the gondola/gondola scheme was fair in his sight, the fact that there was no money on the table right then was not really a problem he insisted, because un-named investors would pour out of the woods to invest in Ogden's can't fail gondola/gondola mini-ski resort development scheme. But when the trolley came up, the fact that he could see no money immediately available, on the table right then, so to speak, became a major argument for his not doing anything. A very convenient double standard, Hizzonah applied. And as Dan S. noted, it may cost us heavily now.

dan s. said...

The largest cost for a streetcar system is to install the rails. The overhead wires make up about 6% of the total cost (according to the 2005 feasibility study that recommended a streetcar for Ogden). If it's true that a ground level power supply is 300% more expensive than overhead wires, that would add about 17% onto the total cost.

I wonder if this system would work when there's snow or ice on the ground.

A year or two ago Godfrey was looking into battery operated streetcars from Japan.

Aesthetically, I absolutely agree that a system without overhead wires would be preferable. In some locations it might also save a bit of space for the right of way. So these options are certainly worth looking into.

Good Reader said...

Looking at the streetcars in Portland OR most run on one wire and it really didn't disturbe the ascetics of the city. They have a great model that could be easily copied here. Compare their system now with the winter snow on the ground there and see what lessons we can learn from them. Their streetcars run on Sunday too.
BTW their gondola cost $57M in 2006dollars for a 3 minute ride.

Stan Thompson said...

The Bordeaux wireless streetcar was presented in Herning, Denmark, at the Second International Hydrail Conference (see ).

A hydrogen alternative, the hydrolley ( was described in APTA's Passenger Transport in February, 2007, and a session on the inevitability of all new streetcars being wireless will be part of the Fifth International Hydrail Conference at UNC-Charlotte next June 11 & 12 (2009).

At about $4 million per track mile, external streetcar power is far down the same track as the steam locomotive. Bordeaux raised the bar and lowered the boom on overhead trolley power. The US and the world will soon follow their lead.

ozboy said...

All you intellectual types are, as usual, way over thinking the whole problem with this over or underground power cable business.

The real solution is very simple. Just wait until the major after Christmas sales at Lowes and Home Depot, go in buy up all the extension cords at drastic reductions, string them together, attach them to the trolleys and Viola! We have a complete system at a small fraction of the costs of the stupid studies alone!

I swear, sometimes I think I'm the only one in the whole damn area that is doing any serious thinking on these important social issues!

Curmudgeon said...


Just as soon as the science fiction writers come up with the details of how broadcast power will actually work, all this persnickety nit-picking about overhead power lines versus buried ones will be moot. Since I started reading about broadcast power back in Galaxy, Astounding and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction more than half a century ago [shut up, Oz], the practical solution must be imminent, surely....

Mayor Goofey said...

Meanwhile my buddies get all the money I take from the poor to get this project.

Ogden Dem said...

Hey Ogden City Propaganda Dept - I asked a legimate question, why the smart-alec remark?

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