How a streetcar might look in the Pentagon City area, on South Hayes Street near the Metro station, if Arlington and Fairfax counties approve it. (Newlands & Company Inc.)

But a significant number of Arlington residents are looking hard at those dollar figures, and the trolley concept, and not liking what they see. Scott Brodbeck at has an excellent piece on a contentious but substantive debate in a county meeting Tuesday night over the trolley’s cost and whether or not “articulated buses,” those buses with the rubber joint in the middle, would be the better option.

“Articulated bus [is] a practical and far more cost-effective alternative than the modified streetcar,” said Joseph Warren of the county’s Transit Advisory Committee, proposing a resolution that Arlington use buses instead. Warren said building and buying a streetcar system would cost from $249 million to $261 million, compared with $39 million to $68 million for a new bus system. Warren’s resolution was narrowly defeated, 6-5.

Arlington and Fairfax have to decide what mode they want for Columbia Pike this year. Engineering is expected to take the next two years, with design and construction to start in 2015, and testing and service in 2017. A good guide to the options being considered has been posted by Arlington, and’s story on the discussion of key issues surrounding transit and development of “the Pike” is here.