- Cincinnati Cincinnati Streetcars and Light Rail
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In General

Cincinnati Streetcar Economics

  • The Value Proposition: The Cincinnati Streetcar will foster sustainable development by creating more walkable destinations which enable residents and businesses to spend their money locally.
  • The burden of having to spend up to $25,000 to build one (or more) parking spaces for each new downtown housing unit will be eased on account of the Cincinnati Streetcar. The streetcar will redirect funds now spent on cars and parking to more and better housing.
  • In the Downtown Loop alone, economists estimate that the Cincinnati Streetcar will be the catalyst for $1.5 billion in new economic development over the first fifteen years of the streetcar’s operation. Compare this to the cost of the Downtown Loop - $102 million.
  • Over the first thirty-four years of the streetcar’s life, there would be reductions in Downtown traffic congestion with a Present Value of $16 million and low-income mobility benefits with a Present Value of $35 million. The major benefits stem from property developments that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred, and these have a Present Value of $379 million.
  • Economists calculated a Benefit/Cost Ratio of 2.75 to 1.00 over the 35-year life of the Cincinnati Streetcar. This is an astonishing rate-of-return for any kind of capital project, public or private. It far exceeds the returns that are usually achieved by widening highways.
  • Local and state governments and the Cincinnati Public Schools will gain earnings, property and sales taxes from the economic activity fostered by the Cincinnati Streetcar. Additional property tax collections on account of the streetcar are estimated to total $34 million over the first thirty years of its operation.
  • Economists estimate that the Cincinnati Streetcar will introduce $17 million in new consumer spending each year in downtown Cincinnati alone.
  • Using a conservative estimate of the total floor area now vacant in the project area, it appears that nearly 1,600 housing units could be created in the upper floors of buildings throughout Downtown and Over-the-Rhine. That’s a lot of new Downtown residents to shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants and provide more “eyes on the street.”
  • The largest commercial property gains on account of the Cincinnati Streetcar will be realized between Third and Sixth Streets in downtown Cincinnati. The economists project that the greatest residential gains will occur between Sixth and Ninth.
  • Much of the information above was taken, in some cases verbatim, from the “Cincinnati Streetcar Feasibility Study: Risk Analysis – Investment and Finance Economics and Policy” by HDR, dated November 15, 2007. The study, which was confirmed independently by economists at the University of Cincinnati, can be accessed here: