Why Streetcars?


It is anticipated that the Cleveland Streetcar project will:

  • Provide safe and convenient transportation for residents and visitors.
  • Attract more people, businesses and investments within the city.
  • Connect with existing  Red Line, Blue Line and Green Line service.
  • Reduce traffic congestion and parking demand along the corridor.
  • Provide a clean, quiet and energy efficient transportation alternative.
  • Reduce emissions resulting in better air quality and greater sustainability.
  • Attract and retain young talent needed to fuel and grow Cleveland’s economy

Streetcars = Development

A streetcar will help to drive development by elevating land that's currently used for parking to a higher and better use. Surface parking lots are not great generators of economic activity. When you reduce the need for people to store their cars somewhere, those storage spaces can become something more productive.  This accelerates housing and commercial development and builds on some of the success already seen in Downtown and the Near West Side. In Ohio City and Downtown specifically, there have been tremendous growth in these vibrant area where people are desperate for the urban life style, rooted in vibrant, walkable, and livable communities.  Ohio City and Downtown neighborhoods are leading a renaissance in Cleveland with over $5 billion dollars of new investment, with the over $1 billion in additional investment planned in the next two years.  The question is how can we build on this momentum and spread the growth to other neighborhoods of Cleveland? For this development to be sustainable and cost-effective, premium transit service in the form of streetcars between these areas is required.  

Streetcars = People

  Streetcars will also bring people by enabling denser, mixed-use development. It does that by reinforcing the city's walkability.   For 130 years, there were no cars in Cleveland. So a lot of what was built here – including much of what is still here – is designed for people to get around on foot and by streetcar. Streetcars can also help reduce development costs by reducing parking needs. As developers are making residences for people, it's very expensive to create structured parking spaces. In fact up to 17% of the cost of residential development can be attributed to parking.  The costs of those parking spots get passed onto to the home-buyers or renters, and cost can be a real deterrent.  Furthermore the space required for surface lots for new developments can lead to the demolition of existing affordable housing exacerbating gentrification. Streetcars reduce transportation costs by offering households within one-quarter mile of the streetcar a realistic opportunity to be “car light” (that is, own fewer cars) or car-free. In this region, the annual cost of owning a car reached $9,628 in 2013 (The American Public Transportation Association (APTA), 2013).  Offering a high frequency streetcar service reduces transportation costs allowing income to be spent on housing, leisure or shopping. By making development more affordable, you can control costs and bringing more people to the table.  

Streetcars = Jobs

Businesses follow people. A big part of what people want these days is to live near where they work. With Downtown Cleveland being this region's largest employment center with over 100,000 workers and 11,000 residents, there is a demand by people who want to live near those jobs.   This demand would not only flow into downtown but out into the neighborhoods where amenities would attract residents, visitors and workers from Downtown Cleveland. When people live nearby, they need all the things you have for daily life – not only restaurants and bars, but also child care centers, beauty salons, flower shops, grocery stores and more. When people who operate those kinds of businesses are looking to invest, they are encouraged through the certainty and permanence of fixed rails – because you don't build a streetcar system for the next 10 years, or even for the next 20 years. When you build a streetcar system, you're doing it for 100 years. And business owners have the confidence that those rails will be there, and they invest. Buses and other rubber-wheeled systems simply do not have that kind of proven track record of attracting business.