The LA Streetcar is a streetcar project planned for Downtown LA and supported by city, neighborhood, and business stakeholders in the area. The streetcar is a modern, fixed-rail urban circulator that brings proven transportation technology to Downtown. The line is smaller than a light-rail, operates quietly, and is powered by electricity from sustainable sources, producing zero emissions. Streetcar tracks will be built into the existing roadway – allowing cars to flow with traffic and offering curb-level boarding for passengers with disabilities or mobility impairments in addition to families with strollers and bicyclists.
Starting with their revival in Portland, Oregon in the early 2000s, modern streetcars have established themselves as an effective way to supplement regional transit and boost local economic development, encouraging more businesses and residents to live within close proximity to rail. Today, the promise of the streetcar in Downtown LA is already helping to promote the development of new housing and commercial space in the midst of the city’s fastest-growing, most transit-oriented neighborhood.
You can learn more about the mobility benefits of streetcars here.
You can see the route map here.
The proposed route is based on feedback from local residents and was approved by City Council and Metro. It will provide improved access to some of the most valued cultural, entertainment, and business destinations in DTLA, including Broadway and the Historic Core, South Park, Bunker Hill, Civic Center and Grand Park, the Convention Center and LA Live, the Fashion District, and more. The route is a 1-way loop, to maximize the areas in DTLA connected by the streetcar.
LA Streetcar will run along the curb side of the street, and share the existing roadway with cars and other transit, rather than needing its own lane. The project’s design will be integrated into streetscape projects on Broadway, Figueroa and 7th Street – providing multi-modal access to buses and bike lanes, and making it easier to travel around DTLA without a car.
LA Streetcar will run frequently throughout the day so you’ll never wait long to hitch a ride. During peak hours a streetcar will arrive approximately every 7 minutes, with 10-minute headways during the afternoon and 15-minute headways in the evenings. It will run up to 18 hours a day, with late night service on Friday and Saturday nights. Taking the route from one end to the other will take approximately 15 to 20 minutes in peak-hour traffic.
Capital (construction) funding for the LA Streetcar has been secured and/or identified from a variety of sources. Metro’s Measure M Expenditure Plan earmarked $200 million for the LA Streetcar project, currently scheduled for distribution in 2053. Identifying a pathway to accelerate funding from Measure M is the final, critical step prior to construction. Accelerating funding would Metro the unique opportunity to save a significant portion of its originally designated budget by leveraging additional funding sources now. These include the $85 million Community Facilities District approved by voters in 2012 and supported by numerous Downtown property owners, $100 million potentially available from the Federal Transit Administration’s Small Starts grant program and $12 million in additional local funding. The City of Los Angeles has also already approved $295 million in operational funding
The Metro Board may soon be presented with options to consider funding acceleration and we firmly believe that the LA Streetcar meets and exceeds all acceleration criteria.
LA Streetcar will provide essential connectivity within Downtown LA and to the greater regional transit network through a safe, accessible, and modern transportation system. The streetcar will also provide numerous other benefits. It will create thousands of construction jobs, and new development spurred by its operation will encourage thousands more jobs to be located Downtown, at the center of our region’s transit hub. It will spur improvements to the streetscape and promote the opening of more housing, retail, offices, bars, and restaurants, giving residents and visitors to Downtown many more options for how they live, work, and play. And, of course, it will add a distinctive element to our built environment, helping Downtown stand out as the cultural and economic powerhouse that it’s become over the past 15+ years.
LA Streetcar could begin service as early as 2025, if capital funding is finalized in the near future.
The streetcar is intended for use by everyone in downtown LA, including residents, employees, and visitors. It will help connect people to downtown’s many districts, allowing those who drive into the area to park once and not be tethered to their car as they go about their business, and giving those who take transit into downtown a first/last-mile connection to and from the Metro rail network.
Ridership modeling by Metro estimates approximately 6,000 daily streetcar riders in the opening year. As downtown continues to grow, ridership is projected to increase to 8,000 riders per day by 2040.
Based on a 2019 independent cost estimate, the streetcar is currently expected to cost approximately $340 million. This amount includes utility relocation, land acquisition, and contingency.
Fares haven’t yet been determined, but they will likely fall into the 50-cent to $1.00 range, based on the distance of travel and the price of other LA Department of Transportation transit services. Our primary goal is to promote transit ridership and economic development in downtown, not to maximize fare revenues.
Streetcars have become a popular means of improving transit and promoting economic development in cities across the country, including Portland, Seattle, Atlanta, Tucson, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Dallas, and many other locations.
As the pioneer of modern streetcars in the United States, Portland is the model for Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc. and streetcar proponents around the country. The infographic below summarizes the many benefits of their growing streetcar network.
There are two main reasons for preferring streetcars to buses: accessibility and economic development. In areas with heavy transit use, like downtown LA, streetcars can provide a smoother ride, greater capacity, and safer/faster boarding for those with disabilities, children in strollers, etc.
Streetcars are also a smart investment in an area with the incredible growth potential of downtown Los Angeles. In Portland, it was shown to encourage builders to maximize their development, providing more housing, office, retail, and entertainment options closest to the streetcar line—a result that is hard to replicate with bus routes due to their impermanence. We strongly support continued growth and investment in the county’s bus network, but in DTLA, where nearly every Metro rail line in the city converges, we should be doing everything we can to promote more transit-oriented growth and attract new, car-free residents.
Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc. is a coalition of downtown stakeholders advocating for the streetcar and assisting with its planning and development. We are partnered with a variety of other government, non-profit, and private stakeholders, including the Office of Councilmember Kevin De León, the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation and Bureau of Engineering, Metro, and more.
You can learn more about our organization, and find a list of all our partners here.