Streetcars don't guarantee heightened development activity, study finds | 2/12/2019 | Staff
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Cities considering investing in streetcar systems in an effort to bolster economic development should take caution, according to a study conducted by a University of Kansas urban planning researcher.

"Development outcomes along streetcar corridors cannot be entirely attributed to the presence of the streetcar," said Joel Mendez, assistant professor of urban planning in the School of Public Affairs & Administration. "There are many elements at play which are contributing to observed development activity. Streetcar investment is commonly accompanied with a healthy incentive package. The streetcar is not a one-tool solution."

Mendez - Co-author - Jeffrey - Brown - Professor

Mendez and co-author Jeffrey Brown, professor and chair in the Department of Urban & Regional Planning at Florida State University, recently published their findings in the Transportation Research Record and as a report for the Mineta Transportation Institute.

In the study, the researchers examined development activity in Portland and Seattle from 2000-2017. Both urban metropolitan areas invested heavily in streetcars and have experienced significant success in stimulating development within their urban cores and along streetcar corridors. This has encouraged many U.S. cities to follow suit in hopes of experiencing similar development outcomes.

Research - Development - Impact - Streetcar - Investment

This can be problematic as there is minimal research out there that explores the development impact of streetcar investment, Mendez said.

"The purpose of this study was to better inform cities who were considering investing hundreds of millions of dollars on a streetcar specifically to achieve economic development outcomes," Mendez said. "We want to provide insight into the complicated relationship between streetcar investment and development outcomes. They see Portland, and they see all...
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