Los Angeles Street Car

LA Streetcar Project Funding Approved by City Council

August 14, 2018 - 5:40 pm

LOS ANGELES (CNS/KNX 1070) - A funding plan to build, operate and maintain the Los Angeles Streetcar Project for 30 years was approved by a City Council committee.

The four-mile streetcar would travel through key parts of downtown and could be funded through a combination of federal grants, county Metro funds and local dollars, according to a report from the Office of the City Administrative Officer.

Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents much of the downtown area, called the project "shovel-ready" with $590 million in secured funding. The Planning and Land Use Management Committee, which he chairs, approved the plan without any objections.

"Downtown Los Angeles is in the midst of incredible growth, and we need to do all we can to prepare for that growth and our escalating transportation needs" Huizar said. "In DTLA, we have approximately half a million workers daily, an exploding residential market that continues to grow and 19 million visitors coming to downtown annually. The streetcar is not only shovel-ready; it is ready to help the region meet our transportation demands as a first-mile, last-mile solution for thousands of riders a day, connecting to four Metro rail lines within downtown L.A. I look forward to seeing a funding plan that will allow us to clear the last hurdle to bring the beloved streetcar back to the streets of Los Angeles."

Huizar's office noted that with the required state environmental reports on the project completed, the city's Department of Transportation can move forward with pursuing up to $100 million in Federal Transit Administration "Small Starts" grant funds before a Sept. 7 deadline.

About $200 million for the project is set to come from the county voter-approved Measure M, and although the funds will not be available until 2053, the CAO report recommends that LADOT submit a request to Metro to move the funding up through either a city-built or public-private partnership.

"DTLA's population is projected to triple to 200,000 residents by 2040, and the streetcar -- paired with other important investments in our transportation network -- will help them get around downtown without adding more cars to our already-congested streets," said Jessica Lall, president & CEO of the Central City Association. "Frequent, accessible and convenient streetcar service will help transform downtown into a truly walkable community where cars are optional, and we're excited to see the project take another important step forward."

According to Huizar's office, the streetcar has $390 million in committed local funding, including $294 million in Measure R Local Return Funds to pay for the operation of the system for 30 years.

UCLA Professor and LA rail expert Ethan Elkind says downtown is one of the few places in the city where a streetcar could make sense but it's a lot more expensive than a shuttle service. 

Reporter Claudia Peschiutta reports:

Elkind says if there's enough demand, a streetcar can make more sense than a shuttle service, but he points out a lot of people are already using ride-hailing services.

A recent report forecasts daily ridership will be about 4,200  to start - with three to six streetcars running at any given time.

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