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Research Casts Doubt on the Economic Development Clout of Streetcar Investments

New research is ambivalent about the potential for streetcar investments to reap promised economic development rewards.
February 13, 2019, 5am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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A study designed to inform cities considering streetcars as a form of economic development catalyst finds inconsistent results.

"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."

The University of Kansas published an article on PhysOrg to promote the new research by Joel Mendez, assistant professor of urban planning in the School of Public Affairs & Administration, and Jeffrey Brown, professor and chair in the Department of Urban & Regional Planning at Florida State University. The Transportation Research Record published the study.

The study examined development activity in Portland and Seattle from 2000 to 2017, to models of streetcar-driven economic development strategy.

"Development activity was compared between areas receiving development incentives located near streetcar stations and areas receiving incentives that were not," according to the article. "Outcomes were inconsistent within and between cities. Some areas near streetcar stations were observed to experience greater development activity than areas receiving similar incentives and located in non-streetcar service areas, and vice versa."

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Published on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 in PhysOrg
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