“Electric train” experiment aims at a Casco Viejo solution

Casco Viejo 1
The neighborhood was laid out in the late 17th century and ravaged by fires several times before there were automobiles. Its narrow cobblestone streets are not very amenable to cars. Photo by the Municipio.

Toward a car-free Casco Viejo

Well, it looks like a bus. Can’t they just do that with ordinary buses?

Cars have been choking the Casco Viejo for years and there is a problem with every solution. Ban cars, except for those of top government officials and for taxis? There has been movement in that direction, but it annoys some of the upscale residents of the re-gentrifying neighborhood. It would probably not be so annoying were there to be a parking solution but to those for whom conspicuous consumption is the entire reason for their existence not having their luxury rides parked at their homes would be unacceptable.

Build parking structures around the edges of the colonial era city and provide public transportation from those to the rest of the neighborhood? That has been discussed, often in conjunction with the old trolley car tracks that can be see among the cobblestones on some of the streets. The emissions and weight of ordinary buses, or the power lines of old-fashioned trolleys, would damage a lot of the historic buildings, streets, sidewalks and buried utility lines into which a lot has been invested. Nobody who lives there wants bus noise.

But what about an “electric train” — really a battery-powered bus that’s a bit lighter that one powered by an internal combustion engine, nearly silent and which spews no smoke? Perhaps it would work, perhaps with the tradeoff that a loop of certain streets would be reserved for these vehicles only. There are many things to consider, some as yet undiscovered, before such a system might be put into place.

The city government is working on it. No service announcements yet, just photos and brief statements that testing is underway.

Casco Viejo 2
Rubber wheels for cobblestone streets, rather than steel wheels for rails. Photo by the Municipio.
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