Study: downtown L.A. Streetcar to bring $1.1 billion in new development

L.A. Streetcar StaplesA study by AECOM released today reveals that the proposed $125 million downtown L.A. streetcar system would bring major economic returns to the city center in the form of new development, job creation and tax revenue. AECOM is a “a global provider of professional technical and management support services” and was retained by the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA) and Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc. to study the economic impact of the streetcar project.

The study, which can be viewed here, was based on the longest route alternative currently being studied – a 4.75 mile loop around downtown that serves major districts including Bunker Hill (Disney Hall), the Financial District, South Park (L.A. Live, Staples), the Fashion District and the Historic Core.

The study looks at both the short-term economic impacts of construction and the long-term economic impacts of having a fully operational streetcar running in downtown. Long-term predictions are compared to a baseline projection without a streetcar.

The main findings include:

  • Development of nearly 675,000 square feet of new and rehabilitated office space, with construction costs valued at $210 million
  • Development of 2,600 new housing units, with construction costs valued at $730 million, providing housing for 3,600 new residents
  • 7,200 new construction jobs over the development period, with employee compensation of approximately $500 million
  • 2,100 new permanent office, retail, entertainment, and hotel jobs with employee compensation of approximately $120 million annually by the end of the study period
  • 5,800 new hotel room nights from new convention and business visitors
  • New retail, restaurant, hotel, and entertainment spending reaching up to $24.5 million annually over the course of the development period
  • $47 million in cumulative City of Los Angeles tax revenues during the 25-year development period

Funding for the project has not yet been secured but typically funding is a mix of federal, local and private money.

17 replies

  1. AECOM is also a big design engineering firm, that would make tons of money should they win the contract to build the streetcar. No conflict of interest there, right?


  2. 1. It’ll probably make money.
    2. It’s cheap to build. Pennies compared to a subway line.

    Essentially you’ll have a straightforward people mover in Downtown. What a win.


  3. This is Lame, why does Downtown LA land of more transit connections than you could EVER need, need ANOTHER at grade mode of transit when the problem is in fact traveling AT GRADE. I am a HUGE LA mass transit history buff, but I really see no need for a StreetCar there. How about instead of further saturating Downtown with MORE needless projects (like that goofy regional connector,) you put streetcars where they and all other forms of rail transit ARE desperately NEEDED, here in the SAN FERNANDO VALLEY?!?!? We also, had the Red Car back in the day and the LARY, why don’t we get anything but a stupid BRT (which continues to be the biggest success story of modern LACTMA history) that should have been a train from day one. I could think of several other GOOD uses for street cars elsewhere in the city but Downtown LA is downright SPOILED when it comes to mass transit. Besides does anyone really NEED the already exorbitant property values of Downtown to go up any more, ISN’T RENT HIGH ENOUGH or do we need to force all the working families out of Downtown LA?


  4. Bringing back streetcars to downtown L.A. is a fantastic idea. They are great for the pedestrian rich areas of downtown that are ideal for streetcars. Face it, many people shun buses. Riding rail is comfortable and alluring for locals. Buses are less so. And a streetcar is downright sexy for tourists. When I go to another city, I ride rails happily anywhere. I never use buses. The name of the game is to lure people out of cars. That will work with enough rails, but will never work with buses. Too many people will not get out of a car for a bus. The streetcar in downtown L.A. is a great start. And they should be put in other areas as well.

    We are finally getting back to rails (subways, light rail and streetcars) all around Los Angeles. They should be added elsewhere, like the San Fernando Valley, Glendale, the Torrance area. We were put behind by 50 years when they removed the red cars. In another 50 years, our fine city will be criss-crossed with rails allowing for a complete alternative to cars.


  5. Buses suck because:

    A. They get stuck in traffic just like every other car

    B. They annoy other cars when they park their heavy ass to pick up passengers from the curb

    C. Hence they are slow and inefficient and don’t really add up to speed up transit times nor add more frequencies as it’s dependent on road traffic

    D. They are dull and the hard seats are uncomfortable for a long ride

    E. It fills up quickly because the aisles are one passenger width and the seats are lined up facing the front instead of facing each other to widen the aisle space to add more standing room for passengers

    F. Fare box don’t give change (buses in Japan gives change, if they can’t figure it out, why can’t we?)

    G. It’s still an icon of disdain by taxpayers because it’s a subsidized form of transit where everyone pays the same price no matter how far you ride it. Japanese buses were on the distance based/profit oriented model decades before contactless became the norm.