It’s a no-brainer.
We know, we know. There’s a lot of mis-information about the streetcar floating around Omaha. We’re here to set the record straight and let you know why the streetcar is a great decision for Omaha.
7 reasons why Omaha wins with the streetcar:
- The streetcar route falls in line with other successful cities.
- The streetcar benefits everyone.
- People ride the bus, and people will ride the streetcar.
- Streetcars end up paying for themselves.
- We can (and should) fix our streets AND build a streetcar.
- Omaha is ready for a streetcar.
- People have told us: we want a streetcar.
Reason #1: The streetcar route falls in line with other successful cities.
The proposed 3.3 mile streetcar route is on par with many other modern streetcar starter routes launched across the country in recent years. Omaha has the advantage of benefitting from the lessons learned by cities that have built streetcar lines. One of them is that location is key to the line, and longer is not always better in Phase 1. (The highly successful Kansas City streetcar route began as just 2.2 miles.) The route can most certainly be extended in the future.
Reason #2: The streetcar benefits many.
When implemented thoughtfully, the modern streetcar serves as a catalyst for significant economic development — which benefits the entire city. Even if you never ride the streetcar, you will benefit from having more job opportunities, more entertainment options and more tax revenue which streetcars have been shown to bring to cities.
Reason #3: People ride the bus, and people will ride the streetcar.
Metro provides an average of 3.6 million passenger trips annually, and ORBT averaged 10,727 rides per week in its first year of service. Both buses and streetcars have their place in a robust transportation plan. Today’s modern streetcar vehicles attract riders who might not normally choose transit. Because of its fixed route, the streetcar is easy to understand and use. As of 2019, 6,107 people rode the streetcar every day on average in Kansas City!
It's not an either/or situation.
Buses and streetcars work together to create a seamless transportation system that works for a variety of uses, and can help spur successful growth for the entire city. Streetcars move people around in an urban core, while ORBT brings people downtown from west Omaha. Buses in general are more flexible and can respond to ridership needs, while streetcars with their fixed rails and permanent stops are easier for folks who are new to public transportation or to a city to ride.
Reason #4: Streetcars end up paying for themselves.
Studies have shown that for every $1 invested in public transportation, it results in a $5 economic return. And it’s entirely plausible to pay for the streetcar without raising property tax rates. The streetcar should be paid for by those who will benefit the most.
Reason #5: We can (and should) fix our streets AND build a streetcar.
We can do both — it’s not one or the other. Improving the safety of our roads will always be a priority for the City of Omaha. But, the streetcar can be a different type of infrastructure investment that would not come from the same source as regular street maintenance.
And more importantly...
If we do this thoughtfully, the streetcar won’t require a city-wide tax rate increase. In fact, the additional revenue generated from increased density that the streetcar brings can be reinvested in our roads. That’s why the streetcar is a proactive step we can take today.
Reason #6: Omaha is ready for a streetcar.
Omaha — particularly midtown and downtown — is ideally suited to support a streetcar. Of the 30 U.S. cities with the highest population density, Omaha is one of only three cities not to have a fixed-rail transit system. The proposed streetcar line includes a number of civic and cultural assets and investments that will benefit from the connectivity a streetcar can provide.
Reason #7: People do like the streetcar!
We used to be the silent majority, and now we’re emerging with one voice and gaining even more support.
The streetcar concept emerged as a preferred transportation option through significant public outreach over the past several years. Since then, studies have revealed Omaha to be well-positioned for streetcar success and the potential of real economic impact to be significant.