Oklahoma City: A Streetcar Named. . .Economic Development?

Kaye Beach

May 21, 2012

I just posted Randal O’Toole’s Transportation Newsletter that talks about the streetcar scam.  O’Toole writes;

Streetcars are a completely obsolete technology that do nothing to enhance urban mobility. Advocates want to build them because, they claim, streetcars lead to economic development. If that were true, they should be funded out of economic development funds, not out of transportation dollars.

Yet the Obama administration is eager to hand out transportation grants for streetcars in cities all over the country.

. . . These cities have been scammed by consulting firms that claim huge economic development benefits from streetcars. In fact, no city that has built streetcars have generated any economic development unless the city accompanied that streetcar with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of other subsidies and the neighborhood in which the streetcar was located was already growing.

Read more

It looks like OKC is warming to the idea that streetcars bring economic development benefits.

Oklahoma City mayor’s roundtable draws lessons from Salt Lake City

From The Oklahoman | By Michael Kim ball | Published: May 17, 2012

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett hosted his annual development roundtable Wednesday at the Cox Convention Center downtown, and one of the featured speakers was his counterpart from Utah ‘s largest city. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker hails from a town that has already seen the fruits of labor that Oklahoma City is currently undertaking, like the MAPS 3 modern streetcar that will serve downtown and parts of the surrounding area.

Salt Lake City’s streetcar and its integration with a light commuter rail system serving outlying areas of the city and suburbs was particularly important to spurring private development, (Emphasis mine) Becker said. Long-range plans for central Oklahoma have long considered a similar system here to help combat issues of urban sprawl.

. . .Growth follows transit

Salt Lake City used to have the same empty downtown on evenings and weekends once lamented by Oklahoma City leaders before Bricktown, Becker said. But the linked rail and streetcar system helped inspire growth that also included people moving to downtown Salt Lake City about as fast as the city could handle.

“Our ridership has doubled projections,” Becker said. “It’s making a huge difference in both where people concentrate their economic investments, but also in relieving congestion and providing … a pretty clear path to what our future of surface transportation will be.”

The progressive efforts for modern, sustainable redevelopment with a nod to the rich histories of both cities stand out in states that are known to be among the most politically conservative in the country. That could help Oklahoma City residents be more willing to look to Salt Lake City for direction, Becker said.

Read more of the article: http://newsok.com/oklahoma-city-mayors-roundtable-draws-lessons-from-salt-lake-city/article/3676046


2 responses to “Oklahoma City: A Streetcar Named. . .Economic Development?

  1. That will spur about as much development as those boats in brick town…

  2. Somebody’s been reading Wendell Cox or Randal O’Toole’s dubious ‘research,’ on rail transit. One of their outlandish recent claims was that bus rapid transit has a higher capacity then rail because Freeways can operate with 2 second headways. They did not explain how anyone would get on or off the bus if one arrived and departed every 2 seconds.

    These two highway promoting ‘experts,’ are very fond of calling any type of rail, ‘outdated 19th century technology.’ Apparently they have never heard of the chariot or the Appian Way.

    Streetcars operate on railroad tracks, so using this fact to allow them their own private right-of-way means getting a rail based mass transit system. In spite of Randall’s rants, streetcars have larger passenger capacity then buses, and since they can operate on streets or private trackage they are quite flexible, they can also be entrained, another point O’Toole is ignorant of.

    Putting streetcars on the busiest corridors should free some of the buses to operate as feeders, thus the bus and the streetcar are complimentary modes.

    Both of the following have extensive research on streetcars or light-rail:

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