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Does Transit-Laden Downtown Really Need a Streetcar?

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The plan to bring a historic streetcar back to Downtown Los Angeles is moving right along, with hopes of service starting around 2015. But the Transport Politic blog's Yonah Freemark is asking "What's the point?" He has a few gripes with the more than $100 million project, which will be paid for mostly with tax assessments on local businesses and state and federal funds. His argument: there are already many buses and trains along the streetcar's planned route--which will probably head roughly from LA Live to Bunker Hill and back south via Broadway. And there will be even more north-south rides available Downtown when the Regional Connector train opens around 2019. Secondly, the Transport Politic doesn't like that the train moves in a one-way loop, which he writes is a "failed transit concept." That route will be long and circuitous for people on Broadway heading north or people in the Financial District trying to hitch a quick ride to a Lakers game (if they ever play again, that is).

Freemark is also skeptical about the 7,000 to 11,000 daily ridership projected for the streetcar, assuming many riders will probably just be poached from the subway or the DASH buses that circle Downtown. Freemark suggests pouring money into making the buses more efficient or working to make the streetcar system two-track. However, he does downplay one of the biggest rationales for building a streetcar Downtown: enhanced property values and development to fill some of the hundreds of vacant lots that litter the area.

Meanwhile, some people have argued for a streetcar in other areas that aren't served by rail transit at all. What about a streetcar connecting the future Wilshire/Fairfax subway station with the Grove, Cedars-Sinai, Beverly Center, and Santa Monica Blvd.?
· Is LA Streetcar Too Duplicative of Existing Service? [Transport Politic]
· Downtown Streetcar Archives [Curbed LA]