Streetcar Research


Impact on Transit Patronage of Cessation or Inauguration of Rail Service

Key Finding: "When these service conditions are equal, it is evident that rail transit is likely to attract from 34 percent to 43 percent more riders than will equivalent bus service."

Streetcar Economics

In this 17-minute video, Michael Powell of Powell’s Books talks about why he led the effort to convince property owners in Portland’s Pearl District to tax themselves to build a streetcar line, and what that streetcar has done for economic development in Portland. He calculates the benefits this way: The number of pedestrians in the crosswalk in front of his store numbered three an hour before the line opened in 2001, he says, but when he counted again in 2008 there were 938 pedestrians. Meantime, 400 new businesses opened in the Pearl, 90 percent of which are locally owned – the vast majority by women and minority entrepreneurs. In the meantime, property values have increased more than tenfold.

Portland Streetcar: 2 Year Report Card

Key Findings:

"An initial concern was that the streetcars would delay the flow of automobiles and trucks along its path as it halted at car stops. This has not materialized to any extent..." 

"In either case, the delay has not been significant enough to raise any major complaints from the driving public.

"Over the first 2 years of service there were 18 minor accidents, all of which involved autos turning in front of the streetcars. There have been three major accidents, one which involved a Jeep Cherokee that ran a red light in the late evening and literally knocked the streetcar about 8 m (25 ft) off the tracks. No major injuries were sustained by passengers in any of these accidents. Also, there have been no accidents involving pedestrians crossing in front of the streetcars."