10 March 2009

Ride the Seattle Streetcar

Good video of the Seattle Streetcar from Streetfilms.

11 comments:

John Schneider said...

Now the Cincinnati Streetcar's opponents will have to explain-away Seattle's success with its streetcars. Like it's not really happening.

CityKin said...

^Heck, some will still be trying to explain-away Cincinnati's success in 5 years.

Randy Simes said...

Wow...streetcars, monorail, light rail, articulated buses, and real-time arrival. It's just amazing how far behind we are in terms of these kinds of systems.

It's no coincidence that places like Seattle are continuing to bolster their stock of highly paid, highly educated, and highly talented jobs.

Human capital is the new frontier for America's next wave of boomtowns. Will Cincinnati be on board? I'm not so sure, but I think we certainly could be.

Randy Simes said...

I just posted some expanded thoughts of my own on UrbanCincy. Great find, and thanks for sharing.

http://www.urbancincy.com/2009/03/long-way-to-go.html

CityKin said...

Randy, I really liked your Charlotte post.

kid-cincy said...

Fun Google facts!

Cost to build: $52M
Who paid?
Property owners along route: 27M
Feds (i.e. rest of country): 15M
State of Washington: 3M (the 3 million people who don't live in Seattle area got off easy, only .50 each!)
Other funding: 8.5M

Yearly operation costs: 2M
First year paid ridership: about 700K

I'll be more inclined to support the streetcar here when they get local property owners on the route to pony up half the cost. But we all know that's never going to happen.

Rant:
You know what, I just wish that the streetcar supporters would be honest, and say "I really want the streetcar because I think it would be neat / cool / whatever, and I like it so much I think everyone in the city should pay for it." But can we stop with the comparisons to other cities? Unless the other city is a relatively small midwestern city, building a streetcar from an undeveloped part of downtown to an overall rundown part near downtown, the comparison is not valid. I'd like to see OTR redeveloped as much as the next guy. Heck, I used to live down there about 15 years ago. I like what I see along Vine St -- way, way better than it was even 5 years ago. A lot of private people / companies are investing major bucks in rebuilding down there. I hope to see more of that. But when city streets near my neighborhood (I live just outside the city line) go untouched for a week after a semi-major snow / ice storm, I just don't see how it is even remotely possible to ask people to support the building and operation of the streetcar.
End Rant.

CityKin said...

^why are only midwestern cities comparable?

It is a real modern transportation system with real results. I do not want it because it is "neat and cool". This is about real numbers, real development, real transportation.

And property owners will be paying more... a lot more in property taxes.

Quim said...

"I'll be more inclined to support the streetcar here when they get local property owners on the route to pony up half the cost."
They are. That's the TIF part.

Mark Miller said...

Quim,
The only funding proposal (pg 25) I've seen called for $25 million in TIF, but that was back when it was a $128 million project, so TIF was only planned to be less than 1/5th of the budget.

I've studied the City's TIF districts and I frankly don't see how they're going to come up with even that much. The current route is limited to blocks where development is either already complete or well under way. There just isn't going to be a lot of property appreciation attributable to the streetcar. Plus on most of those blocks, the tax increment is already spoken for. The stadia, Banks, and NURFC all captured TIF money to fund their capital costs. Same for the crystal penis, Findlay Market, and all the stuff 3CDC is doing. It's going to take some awfully smooth talking to get those folks to surrender a portion of their existing TIF claims to fund the streetcar.

If they ran the thing through some areas that are very underdeveloped like Pendleton and the 4th St arts district, then the TIF contribution could be dramatically higher. And the rest of the City's taxpayers wouldn't be so resistant.

Until these obvious shortcomings in the route are corrected, allowing the majority of the cost to be borne by the primary users, I'm afraid the streetcar won't survive a public vote.

Brad said...

Mr. Miller, could you please explain the route changes that could be made that would allow the situation you described below to occur?

"Tax increment financing is well established in the project area, but provides minimal funding, due to poor route selection explained above. This is the primary source of the vast disparity between payers and beneficiaries. Proper route selection would allow most project costs to be paid for out of real property appreciation in the area served, the residents of which are also the primary beneficiaries."

John Schneider said...

No one I know is trying to use the streetcar to remake Cincinnati into some kind of West Coast hipster enclave.

The people in this video look like Cincinnatians to me, normal people going about the everyday tasks of life, choosing to get around by means other than driving.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL7QEQuRqq0