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A streetcar travels on tracks in downtown Little Rock, Ark. Oklahoma City prepares to break ground on its first streetcar line in seven decades, and as other cities adjust to having them again.

Historic sight of streetcars to return to downtown Oklahoma City

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP)  As Oklahoma City prepares to break ground on its first streetcar line in seven decades, and as other cities adjust to having them again, authors of a federally backed study suggest their routes move people with a purpose  not just target the tourist trade.

In a recent analysis covering five cities, researchers at the Mineta Transportation Institute in San Jose, Calif., found streetcar systems fare best when used to haul people from Point A to Point B. Routes in Little Rock and Tampa, Fla., which cater to tourists, fared worse in key areas than lines in Memphis, Tenn.; Portland, Ore., and Seattle.

"They're not really going into this thinking of transportation as the primary objective," said Jeffery Brown, a co-author of the study who directs the master's program at Florida State University's Urban and Regional Planning Department. "The streetcar is playing a role for something else, like nostalgia."

Streetcars were a common sight decades ago, but the automobile age led most communities to scrap their lines, as Oklahoma City did after World War II.

Of the five cities studied, the researchers found that all wanted to boost economic development, with Little Rock and Tampa also desiring streetcars for tourism.

The Lawton Constitution

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