The City of Omaha has approved a $440 Million project to build a trolley system. Its’ boosters and planners say the system, which will be tied to a new Mutual of Omaha skyscraper in the city center, will be a substantial catalyst for development. The city’s consultants say it will pay for itself through tax increment financing. Warren Buffett says it’s a “mistake set in concrete.” According to The Oracle of Omaha you are better off to invest in bus system improvements than put all your money in hard-wired rails. To be honest, I am not certain who is right.
But here is a story for you. Me and my friend P.M. were recently driving home from Florida and at the last minute changed our route (to avoid the usual I-95 mess), so that we would overnight in Charlotte. Standard procedure is to scan the internets about an hour out from our destination to find lodging and food. Our goal is always a clean, moderately-priced motel, not too far off the route, and near dinner. For dinner we had our eyes on a place called the Aria Tuscan Grill, but conceded in advance that the Grill was too far off the route and concluded we would have to find an alternative. So we arrive at the motel (actually a conference center affiliated with UNC) and discovered it is in easy walking distance of a trolley line that connects the UNC with downtown. So down town we went.
It was a cold and rainy night but the walk to the station was only three of four city blocks. We ended waiting out in the bus shelter for about 15 minutes and boarded a modern, clean train. One of our fellow passengers, a student, suggested we get off at the arena station, as that would provide a good chance of finding a good place to eat. The Hornets were playing that night so the city center was crowded. (Who knew they had an NBA team?) So we strolled around the arena in one direction, and then reversed and strolled a few blocks in the opposite direction and there, just two blocks from the trolley, was Aria Tuscan.
The restaurant was packed but there were seats at the bar. The menu looked excellent and was definitely more than what we might normally spend. But there is a prime rule about vacation… enjoy. Might have been the best meal ever that was not just barbeque. A good time was had by all.
On the subject of trolleys, I am still agnostic.