All world-class cities have extensive mass transportation systems, but with the exception of Toronto — which has a robust streetcar program to support its massive subway network — virtually every city in North America has abandoned streetcar systems ("A streetcar named Charles?" Oct. 3). Only now are cities like Washington beginning to bring streetcars back as a way to get people from neighborhoods to their subway spurs.

Strong mass transportation is critical to strong quality of life, and in a city with high levels of middle- and low-income residents, mass transportation is all the more important. Streetcars are an excellent way to make the connection from neighborhoods to more substantial modes like light rail and subways; without them, we're only encouraging more people to drive and park at a light rail stop or — more commonly — make the whole trip by car.

At a time when getting cars off the road is as important as ever, why would we not be going after the available funds to make possible a revival of streetcars here?

Michael D. Smith