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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Streetcar stupidity

Streetcars and urban renewal: Rolling blunder | The Economist
If streetcars are so slow and costly, why are there suddenly so many? Because federal subsidies have encouraged them. Under Barack Obama the Department of Transportation has made grants of up to $75m available to “small” projects that promise to revitalise urban areas and cut greenhouse-gas emissions. They need not be cost-effective in the conventional sense if they make a place more liveable or offer other vague benefits.
America’s streetcar revival is gobbling up funds that might otherwise go towards cheaper, nimbler forms of public transport, such as buses. This is not only wasteful, but tends to favour better-off riders, such as tourists and shoppers. Poorer residents are mainly served by buses, if at all, says Daniel Chatman of the University of California, Berkeley, who studies regional planning. “The economics of many light-rail and streetcar projects is abysmal,” he adds.

2 comments:

Jason McHuff said...

I'm wondering how they feel about subsidies given to drivers and suburban developers like free parking and new schools that discourages revitalization in the first place.

Also, many poorer people do ride the Portland Streetcar. The Pearl and South Waterfront isn't all expensive condos.

Erik H. said...

subsidies given to drivers and suburban developers like free parking and new schools

Hmmm.

First of all, please show me a suburban parking lot that is subsidized by the government. Every suburban development I am aware of has required the developer to pay for the parking lot - NOT taxpayers.

And if you're so upset about the suburbs getting all those new schools...maybe you ought to be asking YOUR City of Portland Council why they repeatedly give away tax incentives and subsidies to Streetcar transit oriented development, which in turn takes away tax revenue that funds schools. Whereas, us suburban folks don't play those stupid games, and we residents, businesses and developers pay our fair share of taxes even if our property values increase - and thus, our school district can afford nice schools.

But, given the abysmal state of Portland Public Schools, I should cut a PPS educated kid a little slack. You know, the concept of "cause and effect" was probably eliminated from the curriculum because the Arts Tax mandated a 30 minute lesson on the impact of color theory to transportation planning.