Let me address a number of questions raised in this forum, which I hope will become the primary place for Dinky-related discussion, as well as on lesser Dinky forums or those with a more specialized focus.
Loufah asked about our business plan: It runs to about a hundred pages and is proprietary at this stage, but I can address certain questions. Indeed, the total conversion will cost "millions", but perhaps fewer of them than you might imagine. The total capital plan includes railcar and spare, conversion of power supply from 11kV AC to 750V DC (3 substations), maintenance facility, extension of track to Nassau Street (0.6 mile), new station in town, fare-collection system, etc. Projected total: under $15 million. The cost to the university of the new station at the new Arts Campus and related improvements will exceed $3 million, more than enough for the mandated 20% local match to fund the additional capital costs through an unusual mechanism we devised and had approved by FTA for an earlier venture. The primary requirement is that we seek no operating subsidy, and we won't. (Hard as it is to believe, the new Dinky will turn a profit, a singular accomplishment.)
Converting the Dinky to BRT was indeed evaluated by NJ Transit and determined to be the "locally preferred alternative"--until 200 people showed up at a public hearing to declare their preference actually was for the Dinky to remain a rail link, and it will.
As for using Karlsruhe-type, high-voltage trams, they're very expensive and can't operate on stored power, to say nothing of the problems of having an 11kV OHL buzzing 15 feet from dorm windows on the extended route. As for laying new track, we propose introducing a new in-street track system to this country. It requires no more infrastructure disruption than cutting two 8"x8" channels into the pavement. The new Siemens and Bombardier streetcars are beautiful, technologically complicated and very expensive--to purchase, maintain and propel. Our designated LRV reflects Einstein's adage: "as simple as possible, but no simpler". (Plus it's faster by 10 mph and uses 40% less electricity.)
Now let's clear up the confusion about Dinky operating costs. When NJ Transit was trying to show how great BRT was in its lamentable study, it wanted to make the Dinky look as costly as possible, so it used fully allocated costs, including 100+% overhead; total of $2.8 million. When trying to show that the Dinky was just about as efficient as other operations, it used more realistic avoidable costs; reduced total of $1.8 million.
Remember that solar power for traction--yes, it would have been a first--is no longer part of the proposal; hardly "as simple as possible".
Finally as to crew: we believe we will be able to recruit highly motivated drivers at $20 per hour, 50% fringe.