A Streetcar Named Big Government

Referring to Art Norwalk’s essay from last week, Ian Donnis quotes Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza:

“I think it’s smart for the city because it’s not just about transportation, it’s about economic development. Take New York City, for example. Look at property values right by a subway line as opposed to property values in a building that’s maybe 10 or 12 blocks away. Everyone wants to be right by the subway, and in just the same way, in cities that have done a streetcar, people want to be right by and develop by the streetcar, so it’s good for economic development.”

Here’s the thing:  Lots and lots of people have wanted to live in New York City for a long, long time.  If they bid up the properties near the subway, that may indicate the value such residents place on transportation (in a city that’s famously challenging for car ownership), but it doesn’t mean they moved to the city because of the subway.  As the still-vacant I-195 land illustrates, Providence isn’t quite as active as the Big Apple.

State, city, and town governments in Rhode Island need to get back to basics:  fixing roads and lowering taxes.  Leave the economic development to the people whose livelihoods depends on it and who are willing to risk their own money for that purpose.

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