Some Cincinnatians argue for buses instead of streetcars. Buses have no effect on development.
Because a bus route can disappear overnight. Buses also seldom attract “riders from choice” with significant disposable incomes, which is what cities need economically. Rail transportation appeals to middle-class and upper-middle-class people, who have money to spend in stores, restaurants, and theatres. Streetcars, with their investments in tracks and wires, represent a commitment from the city to lasting, high-quality transit service, that developers can count on in the years to come.
While buses usually carry only the transit dependent, rail service can appeal to riders from choice – people who have cars and can drive, but who choose to ride transit instead. Most riders from choice represent a car removed from traffic, which benefits everyone, including the person who still drives.
In terms of economic development, streetcars are silk purses and buses are sows’ ears. You can’t make one into the other, not even through an unfunded federal mandate.
We’ll take the silk, thank you.
Research by Paul Weyrich and William Lind, Free Congress Foundation