Frequently Asked Questions
Streetcars have a long history in Los Angeles, going back to the early 1900s and the earliest development of the modern city. Unlike light and heavy rail vehicles, streetcars travel within the roadway, sometimes separated from cars and often mixed with them. Starting with their revival in Portland, Oregon in the early 2000s, streetcars have established themselves as an effective way to supplement regional transit and boost local economic development, encouraging more businesses and residents to live within close proximity to rail.You can learn more about the mobility benefits of streetcars HERE.
The Los Angeles Streetcar is a streetcar project planned for Downtown LA and supported by City, neighborhood, and business stakeholders in the area. It will serve as a circulator within Downtown, offering everyone an alternative to short-distance car trips, supplement longer-distance walking trips, and provide a new, convenient transit option that will extend the impact of Metro's regional rail investments. The promise of the streetcar is also already helping to promote the development of new housing and commercial space in the midst of the city's fastest-growing, most transit-oriented neighborhood.
The proposed route is based on feedback from local residents and was approved by City Council and Metro as a "Locally Preferred Alternative." It will provide improved access to some of the most valued cultural, entertainment, and business destinations in Downtown, including Broadway and the Historic Core, South Park, Bunker Hill, Civic Center and Grand Park, the Convention Center and LA Live, the Fashion District, and more.You can learn more about the route HERE.
The Los Angeles Streetcar has already lined up operations funding for 30 years, and will run frequently throughout the day so you'll never wait long to hitch a ride. During peak hours a streetcar will arrive approximately every 7 minutes, with 10-minute headways during the afternoon and 15-minute headways in the evenings. It will run up to approximately 18 hours a day, with late night service on Friday and Saturday nights.
The streetcar is intended for use by everyone in downtown LA, including residents, employees, and visitors. It will help connect people to downtown's many districts, allowing those who drive into the area to park once and not be tethered to their car as they go about their business, and giving those who take transit into downtown a first/last-mile connection to and from the Metro rail network.Ridership modeling by Metro estimates approximately 6,000 daily streetcar riders in 2020 (opening year). As downtown continues to grow, ridership is projected to increase to 8,000 riders per day by 2040.
Based on a May 2015 independent cost estimate produced by AECOM, the streetcar is currently expected to cost approximately $266 million, or $282 million with the Grand Avenue extension. This amount includes a significant amount of set-aside for utility relocation, land acquisition, and contingency—we're working with our engineering design consultant to identify savings that will keep costs under $250 million, which we believe is an entirely achievable goal. We're currently wrapping up 30% design for the project, which will include an updated cost estimate based on more detailed streetcar design.
Fares haven't yet been determined, but they will likely fall into the 50-cent to $1.00 range, based on the distance of travel and the price of other LA Department of Transportation transit services. Our primary goal is to promote transit ridership and economic development in downtown, not to maximize fare revenues.
We're currently pursuing several potential paths for capital (construction) funding. The streetcar has already secured up to $85 million in local funding, approved in late 2012 by local voters and property owners in downtown LA. We're also seeking up to $100 million in capital funds from the federal Small Starts grant program. In late 2016 we also secured $200 million (2015 dollars) with the approval of Metro's Measure M ballot initiative. Because those dollars are allocated for several decades in the future, we are currently identifying opportunities—including the possibility of public-private financing—to move these funds to the present day and have the streetcar built by the end of 2020.City Council has already approved $295 million to fund streetcar operations for 30 years, so it will be ready to roll as soon as the remaining capital funding is secured.
There are two main reasons for preferring streetcars to buses: accessibility and economic development. In areas with heavy transit use, like downtown LA, streetcars can provide a smoother ride, greater capacity, and safer/faster boarding for those with disabilities, children in strollers, etc.Streetcars are also a smart investment in an area with the incredible growth potential of downtown Los Angeles. In Portland, it was shown to encourage builders to maximize their development, providing more housing, office, retail, and entertainment options closest to the streetcar line—a result that is hard to replicate with bus routes due to their impermanence. We strongly support continued growth and investment in the county's bus network, but in DTLA, where nearly every Metro rail line in the city converges, we should be doing everything we can to promote more transit-oriented growth and attract new, car-free residents.
In addition to providing a clean, quiet, and convenient transit option for getting around downtown, the streetcar will also provide numerous other benefits. It will create thousands of construction jobs, and new development spurred by its operation will encourage thousands more jobs to be located downtown, at the center of our region's transit hub. It will spur improvements to the streetscape and promote the opening of more housing, retail, offices, bars and restaurants, giving residents and visitors to downtown many more options for how they live, work, and play. And, of course, it will add a distinctive element to our built environment, helping downtown stand out as the cultural and economic powerhouse that it's become over the past 15+ years.
The streetcar will quickly become an integral component of the regional transit network, connecting visitors who arrive in downtown via bus, rail, or car from anywhere in the Greater Los Angeles area. It will also support our thriving tourism and convention industry, directly connecting visitors and residents alike to places like Staples Center, the Convention Center, Grand Park, and the many historic theaters along Broadway.According to an economic impact study performed by AECOM in 2014, the streetcar will also provide hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenues to the city, local schools, county, and elsewhere—not including any increases to property taxes collected from existing downtown real estate.
Based on our most recent schedule, we are currently planning to complete construction and begin streetcar revenue service by late 2020.
Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc. is a coalition of downtown stakeholders advocating for the streetcar and assisting with its planning and development. We are partnered with a variety of other government, non-profit, and private stakeholders, including the Office of Councilmember José Huizar, the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation and Bureua of Engineering, Metro, and more.You can learn more about our organization, and find a list of all our partners HERE.
Streetcars have become a popular means of improving transit and promoting economic development in cities across the country, including Portland, Seattle, Atlanta, Tucson, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Dallas, and many other locations.As the pioneer of modern streetcars in the United States, Portland is the model for Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc. and streetcar proponents around the country. The infographic below summarizes the many benefits of their growing streetcar network.