Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

If It’s Good Enough for Kenosha, It’s Good Enough for Boise

Posted by Adam Graham on February 3, 2007

Paul Weyrich argues that conservatives should support street cars as public transit:

A great new book, Street Smart: Streetcars and Cities in the 21st Century, explains why. Streetcars, it seems, are one of the most powerful tools for reviving cities. Several American cities have already brought the streetcars back, with tremendous positive effects on re-development. Kenosha, Wisconsin, brought streetcars back for just $6.2 million, and the new streetcar line has already brought $150 million in development, for a return on investment of 2,319%. Portland, Oregon, put in a downtown streetcar loop 4.8 miles long for $55 million; it generated over three billion dollars in new development. A 1.2 mile extension of the original loop brought in another $1.35 billion in development.

Why do streetcars bring new development? There are several reasons. First, middle-class people with significant disposable income like riding streetcars. That is not true of buses. Second, streetcars are “pedestrian facilitators.” People who ride through a city on a streetcar tend to get off and on, walking for a while, then riding some more. While they are walking, they go in stores, stop in restaurants for something to eat, maybe see a movie or get tickets for a show. In other words, they spend money downtown. Middle-class pedestrians are the life blood of a city, and streetcars make it easy for them to get around.

If there were a way to take street cars into downtown Boise, I would definitely use it. Kenosha, by the way has a population of 92,000, if they can have it, why can’t Boise?

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