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24 Private Companies Want to Run the Downtown LA Streetcar

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The Downtown streetcar, which would run along parts of First, Broadway, Eleventh, Figueroa, Seventh, and Hill, continues to roll along—figuratively, not literally. Back in September, news hit that the city was interested in hooking up with a private partner to help pay for the project, which it turns out will be a lot more expensive than originally thought. Turns out the feeling was mutual. Councilmember José Huizar announced today that the city's received 24 responses to the Request for Information it put out in September. The responses came from business firms based in 19 cities in four different countries.

The RFI allowed the city to gauge private sector interest and get advice on the design, construction, and finances of the streetcar; it'll be followed by a formal Request for Proposals, when companies can make full offers to the city. The city anticipates the proposals will take the form of either a Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Maintain or Design-Build-Operate-Maintain agreement. According to the LA Department of Transportation, the former plan could give the private partner most of the responsibility for developing and operating the streetcar. In nearly all cases, a public agency would still fully own the project.

The streetcar project now has a $270 million pricetag, but sitll needs more than $100 million, despite a hodgepodge of funding schemes already lined up. Up to $75 million could come from a Federal Transit Administration grant, $10 million will come from the defunct Community Redevelopment Agency; the Measure R transpo tax will contribute $294 million to operate the streetcar, but only $1 million for planning and pre-construction costs and nothing for construction. A special tax district voters approved in 2012 will add $62.5 million.

Councilmember Huizar sees the response from these private companies as validating for the entire project, saying in a press release that "voters who supported the Streetcar were right—the Los Angeles Streetcar will be a game changer for Downtown and the entire region." The gamechanger claim has some science behind it, courtesy of an October report by international consulting firm AECOM—their economic analysis report predicts the streetcar will bring in 26,000 new jobs, $1.6 billion in new development, and $303 million in new tax revenue over the 30 years following construction.
· LA Could Bring in Private Partner on Downtown Streetcar [Curbed LA]
· Downtown Streetcar [Curbed LA]