In the time-honored tradition of folks pontificating about stuff they know absolutely nothing about, here is my humble proposal for the Riverside streetcar line in the neighborhood around UC Riverside (click for a bigger version):

A bit of backstory first: The city of Riverside is considering building a streetcar line, and naturally they want the streetcar to serve the UC Riverside campus. But the routes the city is considering appear to terminate at Canyon Crest Drive, at the very western edge of campus. I propose (with no feasibility study and absolutely no training to back me up on this) that the streetcar line should extend a couple blocks farther, to Watkins Drive. This extension would have a couple consequences that would greatly enhance the value of the streetcar line to UCR and Riverside.

First, extending the streetcar line to Watkins Drive would provide easy streetcar access to virtually all of UCR’s dorms. Most of the dorms at UCR are on the east side of campus, a pleasant but isolated corner of campus. Connecting the Aberdeen-Inverness, Pentland Hills, Lothian, and Glen Mor 1/2 residence halls to downtown Riverside and the rest of the city would enable students to engage with their city without driving. Since about 30% of UCR students live on campus, and new dorms are coming online, an extended streetcar line could connect a significant number of students to Riverside businesses and cultural resources.

Second, an extended streetcar line could connect to the newly-extended Metrolink 91 Line at Watkins Drive. Metrolink (the commuter rail system for Southern California) is putting the finishing touches on an extension of the 91 line to Moreno Valley and Perris, and the tracks go right past UCR on Watkins Drive. But unfortunately, none of the new Metrolink stations are near UCR—the closest one will be at Hunter Park (a great spot for riding tiny steam trains, but still about two miles from Rivera Library at UCR). My proposed Metrolink stop at Watkins and Linden would connect with the Riverside streetcar line, providing easy access to commuters from our neighboring cities to the south. And for UCR students, a short walk would get you on a train with direct access to downtown Los Angeles and connections to the beach, Hollywood, the OC—pretty much all of SoCal.

So that’s my proposal; it may be completely unrealistic or downright impossible, but it’s still fun to spend an hour with Adobe Illustrator imagining what might be. Acknowledgements to the UCR campus map PDF.