Clean Transport

Published on December 5th, 2012 | by James Ayre


Los Angeles Streetcar Approved By Voters

December 5th, 2012 by  

A $125 million streetcar running through downtown Los Angeles has been approved by voters. The LA residents voted for a new special property tax to fund the streetcar.


The streetcar, which needed a 2/3 majority to pass, received 73 percent of the 2,066 ballots cast. The vote was specifically on a plan to tax property owners near the planned route. The streetcar is currently planned to run along the L.A. Live sports and entertainment hub to the Civic Center along the city’s historic Broadway core.

While this vote isn’t the end of possible debate, it makes it very clear that it’s a project that the public is behind.

“Now that the people have spoken, Los Angeles is well on its way to bringing a modern streetcar back to Downtown Los Angeles. With this critically important local funding approved, we will now work closely with our Washington D.C. representatives to advocate for the federal funding needed for construction,” said area Councilmember José Huizar.

“The average condominium owner would pay about $60 per year,” notes Guzman, “with the majority of residential units taxed less than $100 annually. Commercial building owners would pay far higher amounts.”

The backers of the project are aiming to complete construction by 2016.

Sources: Planetizen & Los Angeles Downtown News
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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

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  • Bob_Wallace

    What’s the advantage to running on tracks? The downsides are higher infrastructure prices and an inability for the bus/whateveryouwanttocallit to change lanes/go around the block in the event of a traffic jam/road repair.

    Quito, Ecuador runs a multi-car tram with overhead wires and rubber tires. They also have a small diesel engine that let’s them move away from the wires if necessary.

    Actually, I think LA’s battery powered buses might be the best solution. Overhead rapid charging when the bus stops to pick up passengers. Avoids the aesthetic issue of trolley wires. Highly flexible.

    • It really depends who you ask.

      Tracks are seen as more permanent/fixed, so they help to guide development and stimulate investment. This has worked exceptionally well in cities that have gone this route in recent years.

      Interestingly, nostalgia actually seems to have many people asking for the wires. At least that was the case in Charlottesville, VA when I was working there on a similar project.

    • tbert

      “What’s the advantage to running on tracks?”

      Long-term, lower energy and maintenance costs, and markedly better passenger comfort than in wheeled vehicles.

  • Only 2,000 votes were cast in a city of millions?!! Those 2,000 votes could be from the businesses and special interests (and/or people bribed by those people) who directly benefit alone! I live downtown and rents are already outrageous, and this just gives property owners another reason to jack up rates even higher.

    I find it HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS that they COULD have done this vote DURING the presidential election, when a LOT more people who actually live in the area could vote and give a TRUE representation of voting for or against the measure. 2,000 measly votes?!! What a disgrace!!

    • tbert

      The people who live along the corridor who would pay the tax were the ones who voted; it’s not like it was a random sampling of area nonresidents.

  • Ronald Brak

    Australian cities either got rid of their trams or kept a single line. Except for Melbourne, which kept theirs and has the largest tram system in the world. My impression is the the trick seems to be to hang onto a tram system until the oil shocks of the 70’s. After that they seem to be appreciated.

    Adelaide’s single remaining line was extended a few years ago and is free in the city centre, as is our single electric bus. (Note that Adelaide has more than one bus, it’s just our electric bus that is singular. We even have a bizarre bus train that runs in a dedicated conctrete trench.) Personally I think Melbournes trams should be free. Yes I know this would mean revenue would have to be found to run them, but I think the benefits to Melbourne would be huge with regards to reduced road congestion, reduced pollution, improved tourism, and the joy that will bloom in the hearts of Melbourners. I don’t have any study to back this up, I’m just guessing.

  • 73% of “2066 votes cast”, is that a typo or is this some other LA. That would be like $60k per voter.

  • Tom R

    what goes around comes around…..

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