VIA Metropolitan Transit released the results of a study that examined the economic impact a modern streetcar system would have on the local economy, and the conclusions show that the investment of $280 million in the system will see a return of billions over the next 25 years.
The study was conducted by the SABÉR Institute of St. Mary’s University and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce under the supervision of Steve R. Nivin, PhD, who is the director and chief economist for the institute.
“The streetcar project is not a stand-alone project. It’s part of a comprehensive transportation plan that has an economic impact,” said VIA Board Chairman Alexander Briseño. “This is an investment that’s worthwhile. It’s one that’s important for the community and the future.”
According to the study’s report, the construction of the streetcar system itself will support over 4,080 jobs with incomes and benefits totaling $206 million. This will have an overall impact of $489 million on the regional economy. Once the system is built out it will attract seven million square feet of new development with a taxable value of $756 million, and the new businesses in the area will employ almost 8,500 full-time equivalent positions earning wages and benefits of about $387 million.
New businesses along the streetcar corridors will boost the local economy by $1.3 billion, and the construction of these new businesses will have an impact of about $1.8 billion. The property taxes generated from the new developments will amount to $265 million, which will be new revenues helping to support the basic services provided by the City of San Antonio, Bexar County, and the San Antonio Independent School District.
In addition to property taxes, sales tax revenues from the new businesses will be nearly $53 million, and the sales taxes generated from the construction of the new developments will be about $4 million.
“We’re not talking about the needs of the people today; we’re talking about the needs of the people of the future,” said Briseño. “We need to provide options and alternatives. This system, as part of that comprehensive transportation plan, provides one of those alternatives.”