Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cato Institute The Great Streetcar Conspiracy

The Cato Institute’s June 14, 2012 Policy Analysis includes an excellent paper on Streetcar Systems.  You can read the entire piece here.

We won’t spoil it for you, but here are a couple of the jucier tidbits:

By failing to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to developers along Portland’s streetcar line, Hales’s presentations led urban leaders in Cincinnati and other cities to believe that streetcars alone could revitalize blighted neighborhoods such as Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine. But, as noted above, Portland’s downtown was neither blighted when the city opened the streetcar line, nor was the streetcar line the only subsidy to developers.


City officials who believe that streetcars alone will revitalize blighted parts of their urban areas have been deceived by smooth-talking consultants and dissembling politicians who were foolish enough to build streetcars in their cities. Cities with a billion dollars or so to burn could spend $100 million on a streetcar line, support it with $900 million in other subsidies to developers, and still not get the success of Portland’s Pearl District unless they do it in an area that is already rapidly growing.

In short, there are much better uses for a city’s limited transit dollars.


  1. "unless they do it in an area that is already rapidly growing."

    - Good thing OTR is already rapidly growing.

  2. Peter you ignored the part about needing $900million in additional subsidies EVEN if the areas is already "rapidly growing"
    So even accepting arguendo that OTR is "rapidly growing" already, where's the $900 million in subsidies going to come from??


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