The financing plans for streetcar projects can best be characterized as the creative leveraging of a diverse array of federal, state and local funding sources. In fact, most public private partnerships — whether infrastructure, transportation, or otherwise — combine these various funding sources together for the greater good of both their own interests and the communities they participate in.
Streetcar projects have a unique advantage in relation to other transportation and infrastructure projects, as they have a measurable effect on the property values and neighborhood growth patterns in the cites where they are constructed. This characteristic is what gives both property owners and government officials the confidence to invest significant capital resources over long periods of time. There are numerous stories from stakeholders in other cities citing the phenomenal return-on-investment that a streetcar system provides.
Funding Used by Existing Streetcar Systems
- Have not relied on traditional state and federal funds
- Used funding sources related to redevelopment and parking fees
- Secured significant investment by private property owners
- Maximized sponsorships and volunteer labor
- Garnished funding from regional transit agencies
While there are many federal funding programs that can be used, to date there are at least as many reasons to avoid the federal-funding approach in favor of state and local funding. These reasons include the fact that the federal-funding evaluation process is expensive and time-consuming, and the process favors projects that save time for commuters which disadvantages local circulators like streetcars. Currently there is legislation in the works, sponsored by Congressmember Earl Blumenauer, which attempts to increase a streetcar’s scoring ability in the current federal system. Streetcar advocates nationwide are united in this effort and are hopeful a resolution will be reached in the near future.
LASI has been taking the appropriate measures to ensure the Los Angeles Streetcar project is in conformance with the federal and state guidelines and will continue to advocate for all types of funding sources for the project.