This Space for Rent

Trolleys vs. the Religious Right

The Carrollton Street carbarn sits in floodwaters after hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans

Some of the better-known trolley fanatics in the United States are dyed in the wool conservatives of the barking-mad G-duberAlles NoEstateTax Or GayMarriage variety. When they're not out cashing in influence chits, they go out and trainspot, then write letters to their barking mad conservative politican friends insisting that the Evil Party support streetcars in one city or another.

New Orleans has always had a special place in the hearts of lovers of traditional (pre-PCC) streetcars, because that city never bought PCCs but continued to used their fleet of Perley-Thomas streetcars long past the point where every other trolley-using American city had either gone all-PCC or simply abandoned (and then, in some cases, expensively rebuilt) their trolley lines. After New Orleans participated in the traditional post-WW2 killoff of trolley lines (leaving only the first -- Charles St, which first went into service around 1837 -- after the Canal Street line was abandoned in 1964), their remaining 900 series P-T cars operated like a slowly moving trolley museum until the 1980s, when new streetcar lines started to be built.

When Canal Street was reconstructed, the barking-conservative trolley fanatics took some time out from their daily routine of writing nasty letters to the B*sh junta demanding that the junta {outlaw homosexuality|attack Iraq some more|repeal the estate tax|stop funding those nasty cities} to celebrate the completion of the new line. What's a little bit of fund reallocation in the background when you can be happy over a new streetcar line? The Army Corp of Engineers didn't really need that $19 million dollars for levee repairs; the miracle of the free market™ will handle that problem, and, really, it's not as if the city of New Orleans is in a floodplain or anything.

It's not as if New Orleans had the oldest streetcar line in the world, and it's certainly not as important as ensuring that gay people are discriminated against.