If you haven’t heard anything about the Streetcar recently, then crawl out from under that rock and listen up! Ever since the Streetcar Public Meeting to reveal the financing plans on Thursday (Press Release here) every news media outlet has grabbed on and unleashed a wave of information. Some of it spun positively. Some of it spun negatively. I’ve even heard from several sources that some local tv news teams have been asking questions during their citizen interviews based on false information. Hopefully once the dust settles a little bit, things will be presented a little more rationally and bias-free, but for now, let’s bring on the three-ring circus:
Business First gives us probably one of the most bias-free reports of the funding development and a great headline to boot: “Plan keeps funding in small group for Columbus streetcar proposal“.
The Dispatch delivers a hat trick with Mayor proposes ticket surcharge to pay for streetcars on Thursday, Surcharges may power streetcars on Friday, and Not all aboard on streetcar notion on Saturday. Again, it seems like the people who aren’t on board with the Streetcar proposal generally want to either see a longer line or a more regional rail network in place first. Best quote: “What’s the point, other than for show?” said Joe Sanders, 37, an unemployed Gahanna resident. (Hopefully the new jobs generated by the economic development along the line will make Joe a convert).
The Other Paper does what they do best and plays up the drama before delivering their opinion on the news. Best quote: “The plan was met by its share of skeptics: folks outside of Downtown’s 4,500 residents and 90,000 workers who would make limited use of the system.”
10TV.com reveals on Thursday that the Streetcar Plan Could Generate Millions For City but then on Friday those millions take a backseat when they find out that the Streetcar Line Could Mean Fee Increases. Best quote: Pretty much everything that can be found in their comment section on this topic.
MORPC pushed out a Press Release on Friday: Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission Committed to Streetcars. Best quote: “The streetcar is an investment that is a part of a broader vision for an integrated transportation system in central Ohio,” said MORPC Executive Director Chester R. Jourdan.
Paul Bonneville at ColumbusRetroMetro gives his two cents with the article Columbus Streetcar System gets Thumbs Up. Best quote: “Long story short, the streetcars have passed the funding hurdle in as much as to whether or not is looks like we’ll be able to fund a system without additional taxes. The streetcar system has an official “go ahead” as of last night.”
Despite being loaded down with inane commentary, The Dispatch poll from Thursday is showing that 51% of pollsters would ride the downtown Streetcar. Given the history of these types of polls, that’s a pretty high vote in favor of ridership. In addition, many of the comments of the folks who voted “no” still support the idea, or would prefer to see other forms of rail transit first.
1000 Friends of Central Ohio announced their support of the plan. Best quote: “Any way you look at it, from an economic standpoint, an air pollution standpoint, human health, responsible use of the land, livable community, or economic development standpoint – any way you look at it,” says Baker, “public transportation options are a tremendous benefit to a community. And, a fixed guide way – where rail lines are built into the pavement – lower investment risks because of the permanency, so citizens can expect a tremendous return that will add enormous benefit to their way of living.”
NBC4i.com starts on Thursday with the question, Downtown Streetcars: Who Funds The Project? and follows on Friday with another question, Are Taxpayers Really Clear From Funding Downtown Streetcars? Best quote: “But if you don’t use the system, is your wallet really in the clear?” (Stay tuned for more at 11!)
BOMA Columbus (The Building Owners and Managers Association, not the Bar of Modern Art) also showed their support with a Press Release: BOMA joins Mayor Coleman’s Office in support of Downtown Streetcars. Best quote: “streetcars make good economic sense, because they attract millions of dollars in development“.
OSU President E. Gordon Gee also released a short statement on the Downtown Streetcar Plan: “Ohio State enthusiastically supports Mayor Coleman’s streetcar initiative. It will benefit our students, faculty and staff, as well as the people who live and work in the University District. And it will provide easy transportation to campus so that visitors can enjoy the South Campus Gateway, Wexner Center for the Arts and the many other arts, entertainment and sporting events on and around our campus. A streetcar line along the High Street corridor is a symbol of the close ties that exist between our world-class university and our world-class city.”
Columbus-ite.com gives us a photo tour of what High Street Downtown looks like before the Streetcars. He points out the empty retail spaces, undeveloped parking lots, and other spaces that could use some improvement. Stay tuned for part 2 in 2012 when the Streetcar opens and part 3 in 2016 when some development has sprung up.
Tim Doulin from The Dispatch has a new blog post discussing Streetcars for Columbus. Best quote: “I’m not sure how many times I will need to use the streetcar. But for those who live in the Short North or OSU and those working Downtown or visitors spending a few nights in Downtown hotels, it could be a relatively cheap and easy way to get to destinations along the line. It also represents a chance to get a foothold on building a more elaborate rail system.”
John Kazalia (About.com Guide to Columbus) thinks the Streetcar Proposal is Off the Tracks. Best quote: “If we really need streetcars, get COTA to build and operate it with a federal grant. And if we’re not eligible, how important is it then?”
And finally, this story from This Week News is about a week old, but worth mentioning because some suburban Civic officials question streetcar plan. Best quote: “What’s the point here?” – John Best, president of the Far Northwest Civic Coalition (FNWCC)