Streetcars and Economic Development: Do Streetcars Stimulate Employment Growth?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, mode - bus, mode - tram/light rail, land use - impacts


economic development, streetcar, employment growth


This study reports economic development outcomes—defined as change in employment—for areas within 0.25 mi of three streetcar stations along four lines in each of four cities: Portland OR; Salt Lake City UT; Seattle WA; and New Orleans LA. Employment 3 years prior to the start of the streetcar construction was compared with employment within the three streetcar station areas in 2013. Before–after comparisons were also applied to 10 bus stops within each urbanized area selected as “controls” because they were quantitatively comparable to each streetcar station area studied. Shift-share analysis is used to compare each streetcar and control station area’s employment trends with respect to central county economic performance. Portland’s system showed strong economic development consistency followed by New Orleans. The Salt Lake City and Seattle lines, however, did not perform as consistently. These results indicate that although streetcar investment may support economic development, it is not alone a driver of employment growth.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SAGE, copyright remains with them.