City's Going to Need Private-Sector Partners to Design, Build, Operate and Maintain Streetcars

Categories: Transportation
As we saw this morning, the city's having enough problems funding that 1.6-mile streetcar starter line from Union Station to Methodist Hospital (or close to). So how does it expect to stretch track over more than 40 miles in and three miles around downtown Dallas, which is the ultimate goal? Easy, says Assistant City Manager A.C. Gonzalez: Let's turn it over to the private sector.

After all, he just told the Transportation and Environment Committee, Dallas has a long history of private streetcar operators, dating back to the Dallas City Railroad Company in 1872 through the Dallas Transit Company in the 1950s. So, he told the council, don't think "this might be some totally weird idea that'll never work in Dallas."

Gonzalez said that if the city and Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the North Central Texas Council of Governments are serious about growing the streetcar line in downtown, they'll have to get the private sector on board as "the primary financier, manager and owner of streetcar lines." He insisted they'll want to pay for them, just as they did way back when: "The reason they were paid for by the private sector was [because of] what it did to increase the value of their property, so they made deals with the adjacent landowners. We're looking to do a similar deal here."

At which point he mentioned that, hey, it worked for the new LBJ, where those managed toll lanes managed to attract foreign investors ... not to mention the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System.

Gonzalez said there are "two studies going on as we speak," the first of which is a technical look-see being done by HDR Engineering (which is already doing the streetcar planning study) that would help potential private partners see what's involved in undertaking such a project -- the fiscal pros and physical cons, sounds like.

The city's also about to release the draft of a doc, within that week, that would solicit private partners -- the "would-be concessionaires," as the assistant city manager says. As part of the request for qualifications, interested parties would have to "justify whether or not they would want to put in the kind of investment we'd want to build this system," he said, noting that when this was mentioned to the Federal Transit Administration a while ago, they were "intrigued" by the prospect.

After the RFQ process would come a request for proposals, where in city would ask for "preliminary business plans from qualified teams for successful financing, development and operation of a streetcar system," per the briefing doc. After that comes the so-called Phase III of the private-sector financing marathon, which involves a "request for robust proposal from the most qualified candidate to further develop concepts and strategies and prepare a final business proposal as a basis for negotiations."

Once more, I'd ask: Perhaps a time machine set to 1956 would be cheaper?
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Alrighty
Alrighty

"I'm not after safety"

Obviously you're not. So far, you want to continue our reliance on arab oil, albeit hopefully lessen the usage (great plan...you think india and china are slowing too?), and use our tax dollars to entice asian companies to fix our economy. Remind me again, how does begging Asia, and Saudi Arabia to save us create a self-reliant nation?

"My tax dollars could be better spent on something proven to work and make money"

How much did we pay to bail out the auto industry again 24 months ago? Oh, that's right...$110 BILLION DOLLARS. Oh, and exactly how do 90% of americans pay for their cars? Oh yeah, debt financing. What was the price again for the bank bailouts?

Sounds like you really got a handle on how to get us on track.

Again, streetcars are made in the US, run on all-electricity, generated in the US, and every instance we've brought them back has created a minimum of 900% return on investment in surrounding economic development...there isn't a place you can name in the US where it hasn't been proven (unlike your auto fantasy). Don't believe, check out the numbers for yourself:

http://portlandtransport.com/a...

I'm a fan of rebuilding our country using our own means, not those of our enemies.

CollinBabs
CollinBabs

I want to bring back Hop-A-Bus!!!!!!!!!! We could use fuel-efficient/alternative fuel buses for today's standards but equip them with the big bunny ears and pink paint of old. I used to love seeing those things and it was so quirky -- tourists would stop and stare with amused smiles.

Holy Sheets
Holy Sheets

screw the streetcars.something like this is a effective and less expensive.spend the saved money on the repairing road.makes it much easier to roll out quicker not to mention no construction pains.

http://www.carta-bus.org/route...

Montemalone
Montemalone

I have another fucking brilliant idea!

Instead of hiring incompetent asshats to run our government, let's hire people that can figure out how to do the job without outsourcing it to the "private sector".

busterkeaton
busterkeaton

That's crazy talk! I think we'll need to organize a committee, in order to see, if these outlandish sounding proposals you are asserting are in anyway feasible. Then, put together another committee, have them come up with a plan(which will closely resemble the last one), toss these plans out the window, wait a few years, hire a new consulting firm(probably composed of some of the folks from the last committee) and redraw the same plans that every other consulting group has come up with( just at a tad bit higher of a selling price). Ready team...GO!

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Just let me know when you think you are finished because I have the most important job of all the that would the Awards banquet and the AFTER PARTY'S

busterkeaton
busterkeaton

Damn, now I guess i'll have to hire a whole other consulting group to figure out(with hip, cool looking, futuristic computer generated models), just exactly when, i'll be available to receive my much deserved accolades. Man, spending other peoples money, on all these ideas, sure is tough!

Who Ray
Who Ray

Briiliant! Except for one factor. The Trolley System was developed by the private sector when most of the population did not have cars. The advent of "private transportation" is what helped to kill the streetcars. And, parking is plentiful and relatively CHEAP in Dallas. Until the cost of "private transportation" (i.e. cars) gets prohibitive, and we're slowly getting there. ridership on public transit systems, whether built by government or by private sector, will remain low. The City's RFP process will likely end up like the RFP process on the Farmer's Market........no takers>

$4 a gallon and going up
$4 a gallon and going up

uhhh, private transportation IS getting prohibitive, stop by a gas station sometime and see for yourself. We should start planning for the future of high driving costs... now.

Reality
Reality

Two issues with that:

"private transportation" required "public subsidies" to build the infrastructure for them to drive on. The advantage of rail was that the infrastructure and vehicles were all owned and maintained privately. Gas taxes only cover highways, bridges, and interstates, which means the millions of miles of residentials, collectors, et cetera we all use daily are funded by our property taxes, discretionary funds, and the like. And now we're left constantly repaving, restriping, filling potholes, or building tollroads because it's no longer affordable to carry on.

Also, the "free parking" is not really free. I own a business and just finished resurfacing and restriping our parking lot. That's money I would have much rather used to hire new employees, expand my business, or take a much needed vacation. Unfortunately, thems the breaks.

Montemalone
Montemalone

And don't forget, parking requirements effectively stifle development, especially in close in neighborhoods. There's plenty of people that want to open stores, restaurants, bars, and offices in places that don't have acres of pavement out front, and the city says no, you have to provide so many parking spaces. This is a major cost of attempting to do business. Imagine if people had to, gasp, walk to get where they wanted to go.

scottindallas
scottindallas

"Imagine if people had to, gasp, walk to get where they wanted to go."

Imagine if they could.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

How about a reality check ?The money is not there to do it !And we aren't talking about the usual Dallas idea of ALL the money is not there so we will do it in the 1/2 a$$ed Dallas fashion .They can't even do it on the Cheap.

If the ALL the money was there I think this is a good idea .

Money or not This really isn't a transit problem. Trolly aren't needed except they seem cool . I buy into that .The transit system is providing public transport from Union Station to the mentioned area a number of times an hour .

Alrighty
Alrighty

I wholeheartedly disagree. Check the ROI's on rail and land values surrounding rail stations. It's easily 2000% increase on average in economic redevelopment/ROI. The trending is consistent from Kenosha, Wisconsin to Memphis, Tennessee. Don't believe it? Check out McKinney Avenue's Trolley when it only went a half mile connecting nothing to nothing in a bad part of town in 1981. It catalyzed development throughout that short length. We've got countless other instances as well from Mockingbird Station, West Village, Downown Garland, et al. The advantage of streetcar is it's a quarter of the price to develop and can be built in a tenth of the time...but you still receive the high rate of return. That's extremely enticing to a developer (such as INCAP, like you mentioned).

I actually see this as a rapid way to create a major rail network in areas where land values and economic development are highly depressed (South Dallas, South East Dallas, West Dallas).

md
md

The most amazing thing about those developments is all it took was a lowly streetcar -- no tax breaks or other incentives at all.

As far as land values go, it goes both ways. We've seen property marred and businesses closed because a rail system makes it easy for anyone to ride into town. Two people lost their lives in downtown Garland as a result too.

Alrighty
Alrighty

In the first part of my comment I was referring to manslaughter and in the last half I was referring to murders when referencing @me's point here:

"We've seen property marred and businesses closed because a rail system makes it easy for anyone to ride into town. Two people lost their lives in downtown Garland as a result too."

He/she was trying to insinuate the rail was bad b/c poor indigents killed two people on X day when commuting to the Garland station. My point was that murders that occur by people crossing city lines are heavily skewed toward those driving their cars to their victims over those using public transit.

Hell, let's disregard premeditated murder, and just look at something we see everday on the roads...head to Google News and type: killed and "road rage".

In less that two weeks, you'll notice:

- a 4 year old shot in Atlanta- a 56 year old killed in Arizona- a man killed and teenager injured in San Antonio

Yay, humanity! Driving is freedom.

md
md

"If you're tallying deaths from someone committing murder by using transit ridership, over someone committing murder by using automobile, you can't even begin to develop a worthwhile ratio...."

Your comparison is invalid because you are grouping murder and manslaughter together.

Wikipedia lays out the difference for you:

"The law generally differentiates between levels of criminal culpability based on the mens rea, or state of mind. This is particularly true within the law of homicide, where murder requires either the intent to kill – a state of mind called malice, or malice aforethought – or the knowledge that one's actions are likely to result in death; manslaughter, on the other hand, requires a lack of any prior intention to kill or create a deadly situation."

scottindallas
scottindallas

The DART rail really needs streetcars to expand the service of the light rail. They work together so nicely, Downtown, Oak Cliff, Deep Ellum, and Uptown are all so close, it would cost peanuts and totally make those areas HIGH DEMAND. The trolley can be easily expanded and should onto Greenville Ave and into Lakewood, along Gaston, where it used to be.

busterkeaton
busterkeaton

But, the streetcars will make it so much less stressful(I loathe the midday traffic) while commuting to my everyday affair of criminal activities. Signed, Dallas Criminal Element

Alrighty
Alrighty

32,000 deaths by cars a year. It's the number one killer of people ages 0 to 34. You and I both know people personally who have been needlessly killed in cars. Be honest with your self. If you saw your child walk toward the street, what's the first thing you'd say? If you're tallying deaths from someone committing murder by using transit ridership, over someone committing murder by using automobile, you can't even begin to develop a worthwhile ratio. It's ridiculous that you'd even bring up a single instance because the number of murders taking place by people commuting from A city to B by car FAR OUTWEIGHS that of anything you'll even come close to via rail/bus.

Beyond that, let's look at a few crimes that we hear about often and tie them to their preferred modes of transit:

Bank robberies: car. Child abductions: car. Kidnapping: car. Carjacking...well, nuff said. (Try doing any of the above using DART Rail)

Ask any policeman what the number 1 crime in is in their community, and they will immediately tell you it's auto related.

busterkeaton
busterkeaton

I bet quite a few more lost their lives by someone driving in too!

Alrighty
Alrighty

meant to say, "quarter of the price of light rail"

anon
anon

You probably also meant to say "1989". MATA didn't start rolling until 1989.....

Bob
Bob

Those of us who lived through the travails of the Dallas Railway & Terminal Co. and Dallas Transit Co. would question whether this would work. The public transit agency was formed as part of government due to the inability of private companies to provide effective transit service.

EdS
EdS

DTS worked for me when I was a kid. 8 Oak Lawn/2 Ervay from home, Inwood and Lovers, to the movies downtown a few thousand times.

Reality
Reality

Um...the private streetcars had to fold due to the public buildout of road systems, creating an unfair public subsidy that created untenable competition for the private rails. To add insult to injury, taxes levied on the private rail systems were used to fund public roads. It's very well documented.

me
me

Really? I would have thought they folded because the businesses and people moved to the suburbs.

Don't you find it surprising they did that? I mean, the suburbs didn't have streetcars.

But people today are different. Today if we build streetcars, people will rush back to the city and settle here. Why? So they can ride a streetcar.

scottindallas
scottindallas

The street cars were pulled before the core of Dallas died.

anon
anon

YES THEY DID! The streetcars built the suburbs!!

Alrighty
Alrighty

The history of the auto-oriented suburb is directly tied to the 1934 development of the FHA and the Veterans Administration, which were products of the New Deal. Together, they were responsible for the subsidization of more than $120 billion worth of housing, most of which took place immediately after WWII for returning GI's...beyond that, 98% of the fed loans were only given to whites...which is what gave us the disparity of minorities in the inner cities, and whites in the burbs. Look at maps prior to WII and after to see the major change. Also, study Levittown, our first replicable "suburb" and how it was financed.

busterkeaton
busterkeaton

Of course they will! And we'll call it "Six Flags Over Downtown"...take that Arlington!

Alex Roderer
Alex Roderer

I think it would really work as a college student about to go to UNT this streetcar system might keep me in the city rather than me moving somewhere else. I am sure other kids are thinking the same thing as me I want to live in a city that has 21st century potential and right now dallas isnt living up to that for me but if this 360 plan goes through it just might become a cool city.

Dallas_Joe_Schmo
Dallas_Joe_Schmo

Talk to us after your education and you have a family, mortgage, etc. We'll then see if you care to fund a boondoggle streetcar system with your tax dollars so that the 20-somethings have a "cool" city to live in. I'd just as soon have them keep the libraries open longer and the parks clean.

Dallas_Joe_Schmo
Dallas_Joe_Schmo

Actually I am being honest with myself. I'm not after safety. Having a balanced transportation system will do nothing to enhance my education as I'm done with school. It won't lower my mortgage nor help me raise my family. While I'm concerned about our dependence on foreign oil, I think we can solve that problem by buidling more in more fuel efficiency. It would have been better for the environment and economy if Dallas had spent the 2 billion in Green Line funds to get Toyota to build a Prius plant in S Dallas by promising to buy 2 billion worth of priuses. Then you turn around and have a cash for clunkers type deal where people trade in their smog POSes for brand new clean discounted cars. The money gained from the new sales could have been poured back into keeping the plant and the economy going while buying even more cars.Point is, don't spend the money because you want something cool or because you think it might help with smog. My tax dollars could be better spent on something proven to work and make money

Alrighty
Alrighty

According to T. Boone Pickens, gas will be $300/barrel in 10 years. He should know, he made his wealth from the petroleum industry.

I'd much rather have an option of transit that is made in the US, runs on energy produced in the US, and does not contribute to 32,000 deaths a year. That's the equivalent of 3.5 fully loaded 737's crashing a week. Regardless of your personal objections, automobiles are the number 1 killer of people ages 0 - 34. Nevermind the fact that we import 40% of the fuel needed to run them from overseas countries that only 10 years ago toppled two of our iconic buildings in the heart of our business capital. If you were being honest with yourself, you'd realize that creating a balanced transportation system will allow you to safely pursue an education, mortgage, and family.

scottindallas
scottindallas

"He insisted they'll want to pay for them, just as they did way back when: "The reason they were paid for by the private sector was [because of] what it did to increase the value of their property, so they made deals with the adjacent landowners. We're looking to do a similar deal here."

Yeah, the system is ALREADY in place, it's the TIFs. Is there something in these various TIFs that would preclude financing for streetcars? It seems to perfectly fit the bill. As to the recent examples of private financing, none of those programs are manifest and their cost effectiveness has yet to be planned. Why can't gov't stick to its conventional role? It shouldn't be giving away to the private sector, it should plan and fund infrastructure.

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