The Los Angeles Streetcar is set to convert downtown LA by infusing new investments into the decaying street network and sidewalks. The project proposes that it will offer improved access to public transportation, better safety for pedestrians, cleaner air, and additional investments by way of housing, office space, dining, and cultural hot spots. One of the most cited benefits offered up the founders of the Streetcar initiative is helping LA move away from being such a “car-centric” city.
The streetcar project has already led to the beginnings of a renaissance in the downtown area. The Historic Broadway corridor has long been saddled with vacant buildings and crumbling infrastructure. It is now seeing proposals for housing, office space, hotels, and other uses. A 2014 Executive Briefing completed by AECOM deduced that the streetcar project could add over more than a billion dollars of investments, including hundreds of millions in new tax revenues, and tens of thousands of jobs to downtown over the next few decades.
According to Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc. these are some of the largest potential benefits of the project:
#1: Integration With Regional and Local Transit
By working closely with Metro and downtown transportation the streetcar can provide important connections to regional rail and bus services. The founders say that is will “serve as a local spine that supports other valuable transportation options including shuttle services, on-demand ridesharing, bikeshare, and more.”
#2: High Frequency Service
The LA Streetcar is proposed to be the most frequent-running streetcar service in the country. In the rush hours, streetcars will be spaced just 7 minutes apart, which is twice as frequent as the typical standards.
#3: Safety Improvements
One of the focus areas is on pedestrian safety. In additional to rail lines, the streetcar project includes “complete streets” investments, which will provide more space for pedestrians.
#4: Improved Accessibility
The streetcars will use level-boarding platforms, which make them the easiest mode of street transportation for individuals with disabilities and mobility impairments. Not to mention parents with strollers or shoppers with their arms weighed down by groceries.
#5: Connecting Downtown Neighborhoods
Getting from one end of the downtown area to another can be a challenge in LA. Another potential strength of the streetcar is that it encourages trips to many different districts within the downtown area, thereby creating a sense of connection between the many different diverse and thriving neighborhoods.
#6: Promoting Smart Growth
Using Portland as a model, streetcar initiatives have led to more dense construction of housing and commercial space. For the LA project, the hope is that builders will begin to make better use of the scarce urban land and offer better access to housing and jobs.
#7: Easier Than Even Parking
With the current structure of the downtown area, most trips from one district to another have to be made by car. This will change with the introduction of the streetcar. Residents and visitors will have the ability to park once when they arrive downtown, then use the streetcar to travel between their destinations.
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(all data current as of 5/27/2017)
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