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Return on Investment

Arlington retained HR&A Advisors, Inc., in 2013 to update the analysis of the Columbia Pike streetcar’s projected return on investment and compare it to enhanced bus service. The firm specializes in measuring the economic and fiscal impacts of major development and infrastructure projects.

Columbia Pike Streetcar Return on Investment:

  • Generate $3.2-4.4 billion in new real estate value for Arlington and Fairfax Counties, over and above capital and operating costs, during a 30-year time frame. The benefits are due to property value increases and greater extent and faster pace of growth. This is $2.2-3 billion more than would be generated by enhanced bus service.
  • Over a 30-year period, the streetcar investment and resulting real estate impacts will generate $375-735 million in new tax revenues for Arlington. This is more than three times the amount generated by enhanced bus service. Streetcar service will help Arlington attract a more substantial share of new economic activity in the region.
  • Approximately 10 years after start of construction, streetcar will attract 6,600 new jobs to the corridor over the number that would exist under baseline conditions. This is more than three times the incremental employment supported by enhanced bus. Job growth corresponds to new growth due to the transit infrastructure investment.

return_investmentHR&A analyzed the ability of both transit modes to facilitate the development goals in the County Board-adopted Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan. They conducted extensive research regarding other cities’ experiences with streetcar and bus alternatives, assessed local real estate conditions, and interviewed developers and retailers. HR&A found that streetcars and comparable systems in the United States have, with few exceptions, facilitated more transit-oriented development than enhanced bus transit.