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Incentives, not streetcars, spur economic development, claim streetcar opponents

EL PASO, Texas-- Streetcars are making their way into the Sun City but opponents claim they don't do a thing for economic development.
 
As the city of El Paso gets closer to starting the $97 million trolley project, some are cautioning the actual success of it all.
           
Many El Paso city leaders believe the new streetcar line will spur growth and development along the routes corridor which result in an increased tax base generating new revenue for the city.
 
But some said the development has nothing to do with the method of transportation
 
One expert said it’s all about incentives.
 
Randal O'Toole studies public policy as a senior fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. Much of his work has focused on streetcars and the Portland streetcars in particular.
 
The Portland streetcar system is often touted as the model for urban development.

However, O’Toole said the streetcar “success” Portland supposedly experienced isn’t as it appears.


“It’s absolutely misleading. Portland has definitely reenergized its downtown but it has nothing to do with transit,” said O’Toole.
 
O’Toole said the city of Portland spent hundreds of millions of dollars on subsidies along the streetcar route to encourage development.
 
He said in areas along the route where there are no incentives offered, there is no new development.
 
“If you don’t subsidies development you don't get new development whether you build a streetcar or not,” said O’Toole.
 
City Rep. Cortney Niland said the incentives alone would not drive the development the way the streetcar will.
 
Niland said the City of El Paso has already zoned for incentives along the streetcar route.
 
Studies from the city estimate a minimum of $1 billion in economic growth, said Niland.

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