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Tuesday, February 21, 2012 | Latest audio lessons → VOA Learning English

More US Cities Getting Aboard Idea of Streetcars

Many American cities once had streetcars, but not anymore. Yet streetcars have been running in New Orleans for over 150 years. Anthony Falls has been driving streetcars for 10 years, and plans to keep doing so.

ANTHONY FALLS: "First of all, it's one of the most, the oldest rail lines in the world. And second of all, you know, it's just part of being part of history, you know. Because at one time, you know, they didn't have, you know, people of color driving the street car, you know. So I, you know, I think that's a big part of my job."

The Saint Charles Avenue streetcar is said to be the oldest continuously-operating streetcar in the world.

RIDERS: "I've been riding the streetcars ever since I started high school. Sometimes we would go out to lunch, grab ... hop on the street car. It's convenient ... it's cheap ... and it gets you where you need to go." "I think they're pretty cool, they're fun, you know. They're unique, and different. Like I said, we don't get that in California, where we are. So everything is on a rush. Get in the car, and hurry up and get to A to B. And it's a really neat way to see the sights." "The reason why I like it? I don't know. It's a piece of history. They have these old cars, and they respect them, and they keep them running. You know, we can ride down here and be part of the living history of New Orleans."

This year, the city is opening new streetcar lines. New Orleans is just one of about 20 American cities that are expanding or developing streetcar systems. In 2001, a streetcar line opened in Portland, Oregon. About 12,000 people ride Portland's six-point-five kilometer streetcar system every day. Dominic Moncada is a transportation official in New Orleans.

DOMINIC MONCADA: "With gas prices constantly increasing, a lot of public transit agencies are trying to find ways to modernize their systems, anything that, you know, has a better cost benefit for an agency." I'm Steve Ember.