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It’s mostly about economic development.
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Starting in the late 20th century, modern streetcar proposals started rippling across municipalities in the United States. They’re touted as infrastructure carrying benefits ranging from the social to economic and the environmental. But these projects often make appearances in the news as costly, blunder-filled experiments in public policy.
Cities are willing to bet big on this technology for its potential to develop the local economy. But there is some disagreement as to whether the streetcar is driving this progress, or if it is simply the result of planning *around* the streetcar.
If you're looking for more information on public transportation and urban planning, here are a few links:
This interactive map by Yonah Freemark and Steven Vance allows you to zoom in on all public transportation projects across North America. http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/transitexplorer/#6/38.617/-78.673
This paper by Randal O'Toole of the CATO institute looks closely at the policy winds that drives streetcar proposals. https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/desire-named-streetcar-how-federal-subsidies-encourage-wasteful-local-transit-systems
For more information on New York City's streetcar proposal, you can check out the Friends of the BQX website here: http://www.bqx.nyc.
For a view of local opinions on the BQX, you can check out this documentary. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8XmFjZOSSo&feature=youtu.be
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