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Light Rail Economic Impact Study For the City of Trenton

The City of Trenton Light Rail Economic Impact Study

 

Findings:

  • A light rail extension will create as many as 3 new stations in the business district
  • It will connect Trenton to major metropolitan areas such as NYC and Philadelphia
  • There are 55,000 employees that travel to and from Trenton daily
  • Wages and employment opportunities will increase due to the light rail extension
  • 14,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created as a result of the project
  • Business retention and expansion is strengthened
  • Land profit per square foot is enhanced
  • Real estate is expected to rise up to 30%
  • Vacant and underutilized properties can attract developers
  • Tax revenues and new housing units will emerge as a result of the redevelopment of vacant and underutilized properties
  • Reduction in traffic congestion, pollution and motor vehicle accidents and injuries
  • Potential new residential units could exceed 4,200 based on estimates
  • The full market value of new housing developments could surpass $600 million

Executive Summary

The Capital Extension Plan:

The Capital Rail Line Extension would connect the City of Trenton downtown with the Trenton Transit Center, located at 72 South Clinton Avenue. As currently planned, the Capital Rail Line Extension will operate from the Trenton Transit Center to State Street and Calhoun Street, which will add 1.13 miles to the current route. The Light Rail will operate similar to a trolley, traveling on the same roads as motor vehicles. The Light Rail will “cross Clinton Avenue/Barlow Street/R. Wallenberg Avenue. At Clinton Avenue and State Street intersection, the alignment will turn west on State Street on the east side of US Route 1,” according to the Department of Transportation. The alignment will operate west along State Street, passing in front of Trenton City Hall, Renaissance Place, and running on the side of the State Street. The Light Rail will then enter Broad Street crossing Pedestrian Mall, which is located “between Broad Street and Warren Street, adjacent to the Capital Building.” The path is designed to continue on State Street traveling to the State House. The Light Rail will end at the West of State Street about 500 feet from the State House Station.

If the Capital Rail Line Extension is implemented, there will be three stations located within the City of Trenton downtown district. The first station will be located at Trenton City Hall. The second station is designed to be at the Pedestrian Mall. Finally, the third station will be located at the State House, in the area of the State House Annex. The alignment will end there
and reverse course. The Capital Extension plan is designed with three light rail vehicles; each one to carry 90 seated passengers and 108 standing passengers maximum for a total of 198 passengers at full capacity. The planned route will complement both private and public sector workers, residents and visitors to the region.

Each business day, more than 55,000 workers travel to and from City limits. Thus, we believe that a light rail extension has the potential to be successful due to the large volume of commuters. The implementation of a light rail is associated with spurring economic development, as demonstrated in other cities throughout the United States.

This study will outline the various economic impacts and social benefits of a light rail system that reaches the business district in the City of Trenton, New Jersey. The light rail will connect the Capital City with Camden, New York, Philadelphia and points in-between. The decision to implement a light rail system will serve as an effective method for stimulating economic growth in the region. A light rail extension can provide increased access to employment opportunities from low to high wage, increase in property value, strengthen business stability and development, and provide easily accessible transportation for low income individuals, according to Thomas Garret, a senior economist at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. This report will examine other regions that implemented a light rail in order to gauge whether or not new public transportation fosters new economic development opportunities.

Employment and Wage Potential:

The Capital Rail Line Extension will create new employment opportunities and increase wages. As an example, the towns that are hosting one of the RiverLine light rail stations experienced a surge in employment and wage growth. The current RiverLine connects Trenton with Camden with 20 stations along the route. Of those 20 stations, 17 of the towns experienced positive gains in employment and wages. In addition, firms located near the NJ Transit line in Hamilton Township increased employment by 66% and average total wages by 63%. Thus, if the trend continues then we can assume that the Capital Rail Extension will increase employment opportunities and income as well.

The Capital Rail Extension facilitates new employment opportunities. According to the Impact of Light-Rail Implementation on Labor Market Accessibility: A Transportation Equity Perspective, The Hiawatha Light-Rail line, which connects Minneapolis with South Minneapolis, the Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport and the Mall of America, the residents experienced a positive “percentage change in job accessibility by 30-minute of transit travel.” According to the study, the low, medium and high wages increased after the presence of the light rail system. For a breakdown of wage increases, please see the body of the report.

Investment also increases when a public transportation is present in a region. For every $1 billion dollars of investment in transportation, 36,000 jobs are created on average. Since the investment level in this particular project is predicted to be in the realm of $300-$400 million, we expect about 14,000 jobs to be made available. Thus, the Capital Extension can have a positive impact on the City of Trenton increasing quality job opportunities, and giving access to these jobs by offering effective an effective transportation option.

Low income households tend to rely on public transportation due to the high cost of owning and insuring a vehicle. The light rail system is associated with connecting low income households with new economic opportunities that were not feasible prior to the presence of the transportation system. The light rail is instrumental to help the movement of residents reaching employment opportunities beyond Trenton borders and helping individuals reach serviceproviders as well.

Industry Impact:

History indicates that the presence of a light rail maintains or attracts businesses. For instance, Jersey City, which is rapidly developing, has experienced strong growth in a variety of industries since the implementation of their light rail system. For example, industries that grew from 2002 to 2011 were healthcare and social services, finance and insurance and whole trade. Please see table for full details.

The City of Trenton can benefit from the light rail by adding value to real estate. We will take a conservative approach utilizing the Federal Transit Administration study, “Capturing the Value of Transit,” that the light rail system will add dollar value to the real estate, the property value, which includes commercial, residential and public. The expected value will increase between 2% to 30%, as it did in other metropolitan areas that have transit.

 

The Federal Transit Administration reported that the implementation of a light transit helps foster economic development. The cost of building apartments and parking spaces is higher when transit is not present. Moreover, the presence of a light rail increases the profit margin. The graph below depicts that the green line, a region with a transit, increases the expected profit per square foot compared to an area without a one. Obviously, a transit can increase profit per square foot, at the same time; increases available units per acre. The transit “makes higher density development more feasible” as well as “to charge higher rents or sale prices.”

 

The Capital City has the potential to create many economic development projects. For example, there are vacant properties and parking lots

that can be transformed into housing. We utilized Robert Orr, President FAIA, Principal of Robert Orr & Associates LLC, Transit Oriented Development paper on developing residential buildings and how much value it potentially generates. The ideal locations to increase real estate projects are near transit hubs. The vacant or underutilized properties such as parking lots can be transformed to mixed-use retail and commercial buildings. Regions that include a mixture of residential and commercial/business-centers tend to attract new residents and professionals, specifically millennials.

The City of Trenton has numerous underutilized properties open for development. For example, the table below depicts vacant lots that can be transformed into housing units, as reported by the City of Trenton. For example, the underused lot at 50 West State Street can generate up to 234 housing units with a real market value of almost $35 million, garnering significant tax dollars for the City that can be repurposed. The potential for new housing is extraordinary based on our findings. 1

1The numbers are preliminary, thus, numbers are subject to change.

 

“Travel Expenditure and Costs:”

Public transportation saves traveling expenses and commuting time. Public transportation saves roughly $10,000 per year on average. Day and night residents will utilize the light rail extension in order to reduce their own transportation costs. In the City of Trenton alone, the mean travel time to work is 23.3 minutes, according to the US Census Bureau. When a rail system is added, the mean travel time during peak hours is diminished to about 15 minutes, thus reducing the commute time 8.3 minutes each direction. A worker traveling to and from Trenton will save 83 minutes per a week, or 66 hours per year.

Furthermore, traffic volume will decrease due to the light rail minimizing traffic congestion. So, if 5,000 commuters decide to travel utilizing the light rail, it will equal decreasing the vehicle traffic volume by 116,500 minutes (5000 motorists at 23.3 minutes), utilizing the calculation of to “Transportation Cost and Benefit Analysis II – Travel Time Costs” by Victoria Transport Policy Institute. The reduction in traffic will subsequently reduce the cost of maintaining and repairing infrastructure.

 

A light rail system has a high potential ridership that can use its service to reduce transportation costs and workers travel time. A light rail will also help employees who carpool not to rely on one individual, but rather an accessible and efficient form of public transportation. For example, if the individual is sick, all the employees who carpool cannot go to work as a result, and a light rail will eliminate this predicament. Additionally, it will decrease congestion, generate more available parking, attract residents and developers alike, increase local taxes and reduce traffic incidents and fatalities. Finally, millennials tend to locate to areas that contain a public transportation system with access to major metropolitan hubs. The City of Trenton, if the Capital Rail Line Extension is implemented, will be connected with Philadelphia and New York City. Hence, the light rail will be a tool to attract younger professionals based on our observation of other cities.

 

Businesses tend to experience stability and expansion when public transportation is readily available. Business productivity becomes more efficient with the reduction of cost on delivery and employees commuting time. With adding access points to public transportation, the logistics of moving goods and services becomes simplified. Available inventories are increased and job opportunities rise as a simultaneous result, according to the Economic Development Research Group. A prime example would be the attraction of well-known businesses to the distribution center near 7A and 8A Turnpike exists such as Amazon Inc. due to the fact that it is easy to access the location. Public transportation promotes supporting local business. Public transportation consumers tend to spend their income at local businesses, compared to customers who own a vehicle, according to the Victoria Transport Policy Institute. Hence, it is beneficial to have public transportation to maintain resident’s cash flow and keep business local.

 

Public transportation brings people to a region increasing visibility, consumer spending, and tourism expenditures. The transportation system can help workers benefit from utilizing an efficient means of transportation, lessening the toll on infrastructure, as well as freeing up parking spaces. Some cities have converted parking centers into residential areas, stimulating hundreds of millions of dollars in rent and taxes all while nourishing the local economy.

 

The reasons for a Capital Light Rail Extension are compelling. The economic advantages are clear and could ultimately boost the Capital City’s competitiveness and appeal. A Capital Rail Extension will spur new housing opportunities at affordable mid-range prices; stimulate the local economy with new job opportunities; make transportation more efficient and cost-effective; and attract new residents and tourism dollars to the City. A Capital Rail Line Extension will draw significant investment into the City while also bringing forth new housing and economic opportunities.

 

Introduction

 

The Capital Extension Plan

The Light Rail Extension will connect the City of Trenton downtown with the Trenton Transit Center, located at 72 South Clinton Avenue. The Light Rail Extension will operate from the Trenton Transit Center to State Street and Calhoun Street, which will add 1.13 miles to the current route. The Light Rail Extension will operate similar to a trolley traveling on the same roads as motor vehicles.

 

The planned route will “cross the Clinton Avenue/Barlow Street/R. Wallenberg Avenue. At the Clinton Avenue and State Street intersection, the alignment will turn west on State Street on the east side of US 1,” according to the Department of Transportation. The alignment will operate on west along State Street, passing in front of Trenton City Hall, Renaissance Place, running on side of the State Street; the Light Rail will enter Broad Street crossing Pedestrian Mall, which is located “between Broad Street and Warren Street, adjacent to the Capital Center Building.” The path is designed to continue on State Street traveling by Stacy Park and the State House. The Light Rail will end at the West of State Street about 500 feet from the State House Station.

 

If the Capital Rail Line Extension is implemented, there will be three stations located within the Downtown Trenton. The first station will be located at Trenton City Hall, the second station is designed to be at the Pedestrian Mall and finally, the third station will be located at the State House, in the area of the State House Annex. The alignment will end at the State House and reverse course. It is expected that the light rail car will carry 90 seated passengers and 108 standing passengers for a total of 198 riders.

 

Implementation of a new form of public transportation can have numerous economic, environmental and social impacts on a region. All very tangible. Every day, residents of urban areas such as Jersey City, New Jersey, rely on public transportation to commute to work on time. Despite the current presence of a station in the City of Trenton, the transit does not reach the business district. Without it, potential jobs remain vacant and those who already commute to the area are forced to use less eco-friendly means of transportation. Furthermore, a motor vehicle has become the main method of accessing and leaving the City of Trenton. With limited parking and
fewer transportation options, employers in the business district have become less attractive to prospective employees. The lack of access to accessible and affordable transportation undeniably limits residents’ employment potential and earning potential.

 

This report will outline the various economic impacts and social benefits of a light rail reaching the business district in the City of Trenton, New Jersey. The decision to implement a light rail system can serve as an effective method for stimulating economic development in a region; as it can provide a boost to employment, increase property value, strengthen business stability and development, and provide easily accessible transportation for low income
individuals, according to Thomas Garret, a senior economist at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The report will examine other regions that implemented a light rail in order to gauge whether or not a new public transportation will foster economic development.

 

Why Increase Access to Public Transportation?

 

Public transportation is quickly becoming the ideal traveling method for the American workforce. Ridership has grown 34% since 1997 due to rising costs of privately owning and insuring a vehicle. Public transportation saves 865 million hours of travel time and 450 million gallons of fuel. Economic benefits have totaled $57 billion, providing 400,000 jobs. The return on investment is also quite significant. For every $1 billion invested into public transportation, 36,000 jobs are made available. A capital investment of $10 million generates $30 million in business sales. According to AAA, people who are not located near public transportation spend about $9,859 per year on car and gas expenses. The United States Public Interest Research Group Education Fund has concluded that many Americans prefer to live in cities due to the mass availability of public transportation. The more available public transportation is made, the greater the draw will be to the city.

 

Businesses experience stability and expansion when public transportation is available. Business productivity becomes more efficient with the reduction of cost on delivery and employees commuting time. Easy access to transportation helps to foster growth and business productivity enhances alongside a light rail system. With the added access points to public transportation, the logistics of moving goods and services becomes simplified. Available inventories are then increased and job opportunities rise as a simultaneous result, according to the Economic Development Research Group. An example would be the attraction of well-known businesses to the distribution center near 7A and 8A Turnpike exists such as Amazon due to the fact that it is easy to access the location, specifically after the creation of the Z-Line.

 

Public Transportation leaves a smaller environmental footprint, which allows room for neighborhoods and communities to thrive in a healthier environment. All forms of public transportation use less space and move a greater amount of people. Rachel Kyte, Vice-President of Sustainable Development at World Bank says, “A good public transport system must be easy and convenient to use, fast, safe, clean and affordable.” Therefore, a transit can achieve fast and safe movement of people.

 

Public Transportation Affordability

 

Public transportation can have a tremendous impact on the economic viability and quality of life in a community. Public transportation can take the form of a light rail, bus and even van pooling. The more available and affordable transportation options are created; the impact on the ease in which people can get to work, school, and leisure activities is significant. The benefits to a community can be great, and therefore the availability and affordability of public transportation should be of the utmost importance to a community.

 

Public Transportation provides beneficial cost savings to consumers. Using public transportation instead of driving saves an average more than $800 each month, and more than $9,700 annually. According to Victoria Transport Policy Institute, this typically means that households spend less than 20% of budgets on transportation and less than 45% percent on transportation and housing combined. The reduction in transportation cost will help increase the consumer’s purchasing power.

 

There are many influences on a good public transportation system. Both individual and community factors influence the affordability of public transportation and should be considered. Those who commute to work or school have a greater dependency on public transportation than those who do not work or work from home. For the impoverished, public transportation is often the only means of transportation. Without public transportation the less fortunate would be limited to opportunities within walking distance.

 

Commuters can receive tax benefits by using public transportation. This can make it a more affordable option than at first glance. The Internal Revenue Code permits employers to assist their employees with public transit. The employee benefit can pay for certain public transportation with pre-tax dollars, therefore reducing the amount of income tax the employee pays. This can be done in three ways:

  • Direct Contribution – tax free for employee, tax deductible for employer
  • Pre-tax Payroll Deduction- reducing tax payments for employee and employer
  • A combination of both

By ensuring the affordability of public transportation to as many communities as possible, the whole region will benefit. The ease with which people can travel between communities will benefit the economic and livability factors for all cities and businesses in the region. The Mid-jersey region would do well to consider and promote all the benefits that result from transit-oriented solutions, as it benefits the health, safety, and finances of residents, as well as the economic development of businesses.

 

Health and Public Transportation:

 

Added benefits of public transportation are the positive externalities associated with transit-oriented communities. Communities with well-run public transportation systems see a considerable decline in traffic related deaths per year. Although urban spaces do see an increase in the number of collisions, the severity of those collisions leading to deaths are greatly reduced. Increased investments in public transportation results in a lowering of health care costs related to vehicle collisions. Developing transportation systems provide a larger net benefit for safety of the community resulting in increased positive externalities. Such externalities include a reduction in high risk driving such as drunk driving or driving under sleep deprivation. Studies show that people who live in areas with easy access to public transportation will drive less and at lower speeds, resulting in a net safety gain for the community.2

2Farhang, Lili. “Transportation for Health.” Race Poverty & the Environment.Vol. 12, No. 1, Moving the Movement: Transportation Justice: 50
Years after the Montgomery Bus Boycott (2005): 43-44. Web.

Furthermore, many think of commute time and accessibility when they consider public transportation. However, the health benefits of its use have the potential to curb two of New Jersey’s leading health risks: heart disease and obesity. In a study done by the New Jersey Department of Health, 140.1 per 10,000 people die from heart disease and 23.8% of the adult population is overweight in New Jersey.

 

As a general overview of the risks associated with common travel practices such as automobile use, we will highlight the fatality risks, and the prompted decline in physical activity associated with private transportation. First of all, traffic related deaths are a leading cause for average years of life loss. Annually, approximately 40,000 people will die in the United States due to automobile collisions and that number increases for related disabilities and injuries incurred.3 The costs of such a statistic are massive, for the economy this accounts for a net loss of $7,290 per capita on healthcare expenses according to The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which is twice the international average.4 Also according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, traffic related fatalities reduce the average life span in the United States by 5 percent.5 As a result, implementing a light rail in the City of Trenton will help curb health risks and the number of traffic related incidents resulting in serious injury or possible fatality.


3 Farhang, Lili. “Transportation for Health.” Race Poverty & the Environment.Vol. 12, No. 1, Moving the Movement: Transportation Justice: 50 Years after the Montgomery Bus Boycott (2005): 43-44. Web.
4 OECD (2009), OECD Health Data 2009: How Does the United States Compare, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development;
www.oecd.org/dataoecd/46/2/38980580.pdf.
5NCIPC (2009), Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System: Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars).

The United States is the leading nation in traffic fatalities, as shown in figure 4. This table is an indicator that, despite investment in highway safety standards, other nations have vastly improved public health standards due to their investment in public transportation systems.

 

Finally, transportation has a direct impact on physical health and wellbeing. Increased uses of private transportation and long commutes involving minimal walking have led people to live more sedentary lifestyles. This combination of increased driving and decreased physical activity, combined with the lack of nutritional food in areas like Trenton and Camden, have escalated the rates of heart disease, diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, and other conditions.

Physical activity is greatly stimulated through better established public transportation networks. When public transportation is developed within a community it causes an increase in physical activity and fitness due to the need for walking and extra movement between links. Many trains include bike racks, which encourages further movement. The quality of the services available and its integration with the local community is important to keep the networks accessible. This allows communities to become more transit-oriented. If the option for public transportation is easy and readily available then more people will choose public transit over driving. The American Public Health Association states that “Communities that are walkable and have access to transit generally have a lower dependence on automobiles and encourage physical activity.” Public transportation can help access shopping venues, restaurants, retail stores, and increase tourism while spurring economic activities.

 

Hence, a viable transportation network promotes healthy living and healthier lifestyles, with more exercise. When public transportation is challenging to access, the result is immobile residents. The impact is that a large sum of money is directed towards healthcare which produces less cash flow for the economy and a less productive workforce.

 

Transit:

 

According to Dr. David Lewis of HLB Decision Economics, Inc., the transit system provides three “values.” The first value is congestion management, commuting time, and the provision of a reliable transportation system. The second value is affordable mobility, providing a low cost transportation structure for individuals thus increasing their personal income. Finally, land value increases due to the fact that a transit system is located within an area.

 

Individuals who have access to a transit tend to save 4,400 miles traveled more than a person who does not have access to transit. That equals a savings of 223 gallons per year and for each individual not utilizing a car, the carbon emissions rate is reduced by about 10%. In addition, the transportation industry creates sustainable jobs in comparison to other sectors according to the Economic Development Research Group of the American Public Transportation Association. Therefore, a public transportation system will provide the employment stability the City of Trenton needs.

 

Rail:

 

There are three types of rail systems which are utilized for cost-efficient travel by commuters. They fall into 1 of 3 classifications: heavy, light and commuter. Please see the table on the right for “Characteristics of Light, Commuter and Heavy Rail,” prepared by the Texas Transportation Institute. This study focuses on only the light rail.

 

Rail systems are present in 50 cities throughout the United States covering more than “900 million vehicle miles and 24 billion passenger miles in 2002.” The light rail first became a part of public infrastructures during the 1970s. It is powered by a wire that is located overhead, and it is able to run on streets without the need for exclusive rights of way. Its operation costs are less than a heavy rail system, and it covers closer distances, as the typical distance between stops is 0.25 miles to 1 mile, while the average distance for a heavy rail is 1 full mile and several miles in the case of commuter rail. The light rail operating method can be compared to that of a bus, but it has fewer stops, so commuting time is reduced.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the transit and ground passenger transportation system classified as North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 485:

“Industries in the Rail Transportation subsector provide rail transportation of passengers and/or cargo using railroad rolling stock. The railroads in this subsector primarily either operate on networks, with physical facilities, labor force, and equipment spread over an extensive geographic area, or operate over a short distance on a local rail line.”

The focus of this paper is on light rail classified as Urban Transit Systems 4851NAICS codes.

4851 and 48511 URBAN TRANSIT SYSTEMS

This industry group comprises establishments primarily engaged in operating local and suburban passenger transit systems over regular routes and on regular schedules within a metropolitan area and its adjacent nonurban areas. Such transportation systems involve the use of one or more modes of transport including light rail, commuter rail, subways, streetcars, as well as buses and other motor vehicles.

*United States Census

Light Rail Implementation in the City of Trenton

 

Trenton Economic and Social Benefits of a Light Rail:

 

The mid-Jersey region is fortunate to have many affordable and cost effective methods of public transportation. The area is serviced by several New Jersey Transit and Amtrak railroad stations and lines. New Jersey Transit also provides park and bus service for the local area into New York City. The River Line connects South Jersey and New York City with Central Jersey to make the railway options more accessible to those residents. The City of Trenton can capitalize on current resources as well as extending the Light Rail in order to generate new economic development projects.

 

The City of Trenton is the capital of New Jersey, and it is conveniently located in Central New Jersey. As of the 2010 United States Census, Trenton had a population of 84,913, making it the state’s 10th largest municipality. The racial makeup of the city was 52.01 percent (44,160) Black or African American, Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 33.71 percent (28,621) of the population, 26.56 percent (22,549) White, 15.31 percent (13,003) from other races, and 4.10 percent (3,480) from two or more races,1.19 percent (1,013) Asian, 0.70 percent (598) Native American, 0.13 percent (110) Pacific Islander.

 

Trenton was a major manufacturing hub in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One relic of that era is the slogan “Trenton Makes, The World Takes”, which is displayed on the Lower Free Bridge (just north of the Trenton–Morrisville Toll Bridge). The city adopted the slogan in 1917 to represent Trenton’s then-leading role as a major manufacturing center for rubber, wire rope, ceramics and cigars. Along with many other United States cities in the 1970s, Trenton started experiencing a decline in the economy with the departure of manufacturing. Concurrently, state government agencies began leasing office space in the surrounding suburbs. State government leaders (particularly Governor William Cahill from 1970 to 1974 and Governor Brendan Byrne from 1974 to 1982) attempted to revitalize the downtown area by making it the center of state government. Between 1982 and 1992, more than a dozen office buildings were constructed primarily by the state to house state offices. Today, Trenton’s biggest employer is still the State of New Jersey.

 

Each weekday, more than 55,000 workers travel to and from the city. Thus, we believe that a light rail has a potential to be successful due to presence of a large volume of commuters. The implementation of a light rail is associated with spurring economic development, specifically, real estate development projects.

 

Employment and Wage Growth around River Line Stations:

The City of Trenton is dealing with an unemployment rate estimated to be as high as 18 percent, drastically higher than Mercer County and the State of New Jersey. Total primary jobs in the City declined from 42,182 in 2002 to 36,384 in 2011.

 

The implementation of the Rail Line extension will boost jobs and wages. Overall, the majority of firms located near a River Line station experienced gain in employment and the total average wages (see table above). Only the aforementioned 36th Street and Cinnaminson stations experienced declines. The 11 firms located near the Delanco Station had the largest gain in number of employees, at 75 percent for the period. Employment at Burlington South grew by 70 percent, at Hamilton Avenue by 66 percent and at Cooper Street/Rutgers by 55 percent. Employment figures declined near two stations: Cinnaminson (-5 percent) and 36th Street (-81 percent). However, we expect that the City of Trenton potentially will experience employment growth. The Capital Rail Line extension project has the potential to abate the high unemployment rate. In addition to the Entertainment Center Station area firms, the firms near several other stations experienced considerable gains in average total wages, including: Roebling Station (127 percent); Trenton Transit Center (70 percent); Cooper Street/Rutgers (68 percent); and Hamilton Avenue (63 percent). The conclusion is that we can observe a positive impact from the implementation of a light rail on cities mentioned above.

 

Between 1998 and 2006, the average change in wages per firm grew by 33 percent for all 400 firms located within a half-mile of a station. On average, the change in employment grew by 25 percent for the period. The change in average wages (per employee) grew by 11 percent, according to the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University. Residents that have access to “rail cities” save 7 percent more of their annual income than residents with noaccess to rail systems, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Capital extension project, as indicated by the figures above, will benefit business in Trenton by increasing job openings and wages per firm.

 

The average wages per employee grew by 107 percent at the nine firms near the Roebling Station and by 100 percent for the 4 firms near the Entertainment Center Station, according to Figure 3. Overall, average wages per employee grew at 15 of the 20 stations.6 The construction and capital cost of the line was about $1.1 billion, which was paid entirely by the state without a federal contribution from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Thus we can observe that the city of Trenton will experience a rise in employment and wages if the light rail system is adopted.

 


Moreover, the presence of a light rail increases the access to job availability. According to the Impact of Light-Rail Implementation on Labor Market Accessibility: A Transportation Equity Perspective by Yingling Fan, Andrew Guthrie and David Levinson, the light-rail in the Twin Cities, The Hiawatha Light-Rail line, connecting Minneapolis with South Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Saint International Airport and the Mall of America, experienced a positive “percentage change in job accessibility by 30-minute of transit travel” (per the table above). According to the study, the low, medium and high wage increased after the presence of the light rail. The low-wage jobs, identified as $1,200 and lower per month, increased by 1,216, the medium-wage jobs, between $1,200 to $3,400, increased by 833, and the high-wage jobs, more than $3,400, grew by 5,075 jobs (see the table depicting the impact of light-rail and access to employment provided by this study). The authors summed up their study, “our analysis of before-after job accessibility changes shows that the Hiawatha light-rail line has generated significant job accessibility benefits for all workers, including low-, medium-, and high-wage workers.” The study demonstrates that the implementation of a light rail increased job availability ranging from low to high income jobs for the region.

 

The City of Trenton’s income has slowly positively changed from 2002 to 2011 (see table). 7 Utilizing the same categorization of the study mentioned above, about 10 percent earnings is less
than $1,250 in 2011, and more than 30 percent is between $1,251 to $3,333 per month; and over 35% make more than $3,333 per month. This is a positive indicator that the City of Trenton expanded the percentage job by earnings. This means that the Capital is attracting quality jobs rather than low income employment opportunities. Further, this trend will grow stronger if we implement a light rail that will attract businesses and talented employees, as was demonstrated in other regions such as Jersey City.

7On the Map, the United State Census

Some railroad occupations provide competitive salary. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the starting salary in railroad is $41,230 for rail yard engineers, operators, and hostlers, and the highest salary pays $54,700 for conductors and yardmasters (see table). According to the Social Security Administration, the national average wage index of 2012 was $44,321. Therefore, a light rail will provide quality jobs for the City of Trenton.

 

New Jersey is a leading employer in the rail transportation. The Garden State is considered to have a healthy employment of rail transportation; the map on the right depicts the 2013 United States employment of rail transportation workers, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. New Jersey is ranked 4th in employment with an annual mean wage of $62,050. This is another vigorous indicator that implementing a light rail in the City of Trenton will increase work and income opportunity.

 

While Trenton downtown has many parking lots, there are still commuters struggling to find a parking space. The light rail can help reduce commuter traffic, allowing the parking spaces to be utilized for economic development projects such as affordable housing. The Local Employment Dynamics chart depicts that there are 33,406 workers that enter the city and 23,207 professionals who travel out of the City to work. Hence, the light rail system has more than 55,000 potential consumers, which will result reduce the reliance on cars and parking.

Employee’s access to a healthy transportation system permits a flow of workers as well as attracting businesses due to the labor force availability. According to the 2008-2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates , out of the employment pool of almost 33,000; 77 percent use truck, van or car, of the 77 percent-about 19.9 percent (6,600) carpool; and 11.3 percent (3,700) use public transportation (excluding taxicab) and taxicab 3.5 percent (1,155), finally about 6.7 percent (2,211) walk or bike. In the City of Trenton, the mean travel time to work is 23.3 minutes, according to the US Census. If a rail system is added, the mean travel time during peak hours is expected to be 15 minutes, reducing the commuting time 8.3 minutes for each way. A worker traveling to and from Trenton will save 83 minutes per week, and more than 4,000 minutes per year, which will result in a reduction of spending money on car and traveling time.

 

The light rail has a high potential ridership that can use its service to reduce workers travel time and cut transportation cost. The light rail will also help employees who carpool not to
rely on one individual, but rather an accessible public transportation. For example, if the individual is sick, all the employees who carpool cannot go to work as a result, and the light rail will eliminate this predicament. Furthermore, the light rail will decrease congestion, more available parking, attract new residents, which will result in increased government revenues. Finally, businesses and millennials tend to locate to an area that contains a transportation system. Hence, a light rail in the business district could legitimately be a way to attract millennials and new business.

 

According to a study conducted by the University of Southern California (USC), people who live within a half-mile of a rail station have tripled their ridership while cutting their driving by 40 percent. Households within this proximity cut their travel distance from 22 miles to 12 miles on average per day. USC researcher Marlon Boarnet says that although Los Angeles is too large to perfectly accommodate all citizens, he predicts that up to 5 light rail extensions and new lines will be established by the end of the decade. He claims, “This teaches us how to make our investments count.”

 

The low income households tend to rely on public transportation due to the high cost of owning and operating a vehicle, reported by the Impact of Light-Rail Implementation on Labor Market Accessibility: A Transportation Equity Perspective by Yingling Fan, Andrew Guthrie and David Levinson. The light rail system is associated with connecting low income households with new economic opportunities that were not feasible prior to the presence of the transportation system. Out of 28,074 households in the City of Trenton, 36.7% of household’s income and benefits are less than $34,999, compared to 24.4% in Mercer County and 25% in New Jersey. Furthermore, out of 32,782, 16 years and over in households, 17.8% have no access to a vehicle and 33.2% have only one car to travel with, according to the 2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-Year. Therefore, the light rail is instrumental to help the movement of residents reaching employment opportunities beyond Trenton boundaries.

 

Industry Growth Due to the Presence of a Light Rail:

The City of Trenton’s industry base is dominated by healthcare and social services and public administration, reported by Longitudinal Employer – Household Dynamics.Health care and social
services industries doubled since 2002.

 

The following paragraph will focus on industry growth due to a light rail, utilizing Jersey City as an example. The table to the right depicts the industry changes in Jersey City from 2002 to 2011; the light rail reaches different destinations such as New York City. We also observe a healthy stability or an increase in some industries such as Finance and Insurance, and rental and leasing, retail trade, construction and healthcare and social services, please see table extracted from on the Map by the United States Census. The trend in stability or growth in industries is consistent with other studies that demonstrate that a healthy public transportation or light rail helps to stabilize or attract new industries. The City of Trenton, if the Capital Rail Extension is implemented, will be connected with Philadelphia and New York City.

 

The new trend is that commuters, especially with younger generations, live in places that
have a convenient public transportation system. Also, housing trends have shifted from living in rural areas to urban regions, with easy access to transportation. The table 8 depicts the City of Trenton Jobs by worker age from 2002 to 2011. The older workforce, categorized age 55 or older, grew by 1,660 from 2002 to 2011 and the middle age group, identified as age 30 to 54, declined to 12,343. Since 2002, the young labor force, categorized as age 29 or younger, has declined by 1,525 to 5140, on the other hand, this cohort increased from 4,860 in 2009 to 5,140 in 2011. The Capital has the potential to continue to attract young talent by implementing a light rail. The planned light rail will connect the City of Trenton with Philadelphia and to New York City, increasing work and leisure opportunities. Young individuals tend to live in a region that contains public transportation; the light rail can attract young talent due to accessing important markets.

8Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics

 

Economic Development Projects:

 

Many economic development projects are associated with easy access to public transportation. Access to major highways such as Highway 130, Route 1, and the NJ Turnpike make transportation to the City of Trenton easily attainable. It is currently troubled by high crime rates, but other cities similar to it have recovered and expanded. Some New Jersey cities such as Morristown were formerly troubled areas subjected to high rates of crime, unemployment and low rent. Light rail implementation, however, has led to booming economic impacts such as real estate development as well access to other regions for job opportunities.

 

Morristown was previously economically troubled, since the implementation of a rail it was transformed. Bridget Keller, a resident of Morristown for over 10 years, says “We love the way the town is growing up and coming together,” as a result of train development into the city’s infrastructure. According to the Star Ledger, the presence of train stations has added stores and restaurants, raised property values, and diminished crime rates. The report goes on to conclude that people are drawn to Morristown due to its walkable downtown area and availability of public transportation. “Morristown struggled for many years in trying to adapt and find its place in the retail market… Developers here for a long time couldn’t get financing. The whole idea of living downtown just wasn’t attractive. Now, everyone wants to be here,” says Phil Abramson, a senior planner for Morristown and principal at the urban planning firm, Topology. Since rail implementation has been able to revitalize a higher level of economic impact in Morristown, it can be concluded that a similar policy for Trenton can also lead to economic expansion and an improved quality of life for its citizens.

 

The H Street Corridor of Washington D.C. was decimated in 1968 as a result of riotous activity following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. “Before the riots, H Street was a hustling, bustling neighborhood. You could buy anything, from jewelry to music. You name it, H Street had it. It was one of the best commercial areas in the city,” says Anwar Saleem, a business owner and executive director of the nonprofit organization, H Street Main Street. The Corridor has drawn comparisons to Trenton because the rail implementation has the potential to lead to the community to rise to prosperity, just as the H Street Corridor did. Today, the community has a much more balanced presence of ethnicities and cultures. Formerly dilapidated row houses are being reconstructed to raise the quality of life for residents. The train system is highly praised by city officials, businesses, and developers as it is projected to generate $8 billion worth of investments within 10 years of completion for the line. “What light rail does for a retail corridor is it’s a really big multiplier,” says Jim Abdo, a developer of business in the Corridor’s area. He went on to explain, “When I went there, a lot of it was boarded up, covered with graffiti, decimated in the riots. But since we made our investment, it’s been one of the fastest-growing retail corridors in the city.”

 

The light rail will encourage development within the City of Trenton and nearby cities such as Ewing, New Jersey. he Ewing Redevelopment Agency has come to the realization that the opportunity to develop a transportation hub and destination area lies in the 130 acre area of an abandoned General Motors plant alongside Parkway Avenue. Bob Calabro, a representative from Lennar, a development organization, concludes that the land can be used for “115,000 square feet of commercial space and 1,000 residential units, including 190 town homes, 250 stacked town homes, 25 live/work units, 460 apartment units and 75 mixed-living units.” He also says, “The vision is to take a site like this and make it something active and exciting.” Attorney Kevin McMahon says that once completed, the plan can create hundreds of jobs once the companies are founded in the area, and Ewing Township can expect to collect $3 million in annual tax revenue from the established development. With a location in the center of the town, the development can be expected to receive greater attraction from residents and commuters once it is established as a hub of transportation and a connection with the Trenton-Camden River LINE is finalized.

The Parkway Avenue Redevelopment Plan outlines the method to transform the 130 acres of West Trenton to contain over 1,000 housing units, offices, shops, sidewalks, parks, and an officially recognized town square. The bustling town center would have connections to a corporate office park, medical offices and laboratories, as well as a new airport terminal, in which Mercer County is considering to approve 1,300 acres for the Trenton-Mercer Airport. If finalized, such redevelopment would establish the Trenton-Ewing area as a hotspot for job opportunities. As mentioned above, empty space and parking venues can be transformed to yield more profit. Implementing a light rail in the Trenton area will allow commuters to travel to the area without worrying about congestion or finding a parking spot and at the same time creating and attracting new businesses.

 

In summary, economic developments projects will yield a return on investment four and quarter of the initial investment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for every $1 spent on construction, the return on investment is $4.25, which includes government revenues (taxes), employment income and purchases. The Capital City will benefit about $1.6 billion as a result of the light rail. Therefore, a light rail in the city of Trenton will generate more than four times the new cash flow, benefiting consumers, businesses and local government.

 

Real Estate Values:

The City of Trenton median home value is $89,000, according the Zillow.com, a home and real estate marketplace. Home values have increased 12.2% and it is expected to grow 6.3% in the next year, per the chart. The table below depicts the neighborhoods’ prices in the City of Trenton. We believe that the light rail system will add dollar value to the real estate. The American Public Transit Association reported that The National Association of Realtors found that home values located near a system of public transit fared 42% better than homes in a neighborhood which lacks public transportation. Another study conducted in Boston by the American Public Transit Association, stated that home value increased by 129 percent when a transit system is

located within its boundaries as opposed to homes not within the boundaries of a public transit station. However, we will take a conservative approach utilizing the Federal Transit Administration study, “Capturing the Value of Transit,” that the implementation of a light rail will result an increase in a property value between 2% to 30%, as it did to other metropolitan areas that have transit. The potential of an increase of the original property value is from $89,000 to between $121,686 to $155,090. The effect will be imminent specifically in downtown of the City of Trenton.

The Federal Transit Administration reported that the implementation of a light transit will help foster economic development. The cost of building apartments and parking spaces is higher when a transit is not present. Moreover, the presence of a light rail increases the profit margin. The graph on the right depicts that the green line is an area with a transit and the gray line is an area without a transit, the expected profit per square feet is higher with a light rail presence.

 

The Capital City has the potential to create major economic development projects. For example, there are vacant properties and parking lots that can be transformed to housing complexes. We utilized Robert Orr, President FAIA, Principal of Robert Orr & Associates LLC, Transit Oriented Development paper on developing residential building and how much money it generates. The ideal locations to increase real estate projects are near transit hubs. The vacant or underutilized properties such as parking lots can be transformed to residential multi-purpose quarters with storefronts. Regions that include a mixture of residential and commercial/businesscenter tend to attract new residents and professionals.

 

The City of Trenton has various underutilized properties in the Downtown Area and Business District, a few of which are listed below in the chart. For example, the chart depicts the total value of property which could be built on the proposed Extension path, creating housing opportunities and generating major tax revenues. According to the Division of Assessment at the City of Trenton, the 2015 property tax rate is $5.733 per $100 of assessed value.9 The taxes from these new proposed properties would mean significant revenue for the City of Trenton. Revenue that could potentially help offset budget cuts, improve the education system, expand the police force and citywide safety measures, and spur further economic development projects.

 

9Division of Assessment Online Office

 

The chart below depicts the underutilized or vacant City lots/properties that could attract development and the value of that property based on comparables and local ordinances. The estimated number of residential mixed-family units would exceed 4,200 if development were to take place on the sites below.

 

The City of Trenton can benefit from attracting developers who will invest in underutilized available resources while increasing local government revenue. A recent study depicts that there are 27,000 parcels and 3,566 fully vacant buildings, 340 of which are owned by the City as well as 2,397 vacant lots, 921 of which are owned by the City, which include parks, open space, paved lots, so forth).10 Since the City Government has available sites, it will most likely benefit redevelopment creating employment, taxes, construction opportunities, cash flow and so on. Clearly, the City of Trenton has an ample amount of opportunities to develop and create viable residential areas near the potential light rail.

 

Following the implementation of the light rail, Jersey City has become an attractive location for developers. In less than one decade, developments to the area include: townhouses in a variety of styles, modern lofts, and highly desirable apartment buildings. Such developments are stimulating both business growth and real estate; and individuals and families are eagerly calling the 07302 zip code their new home. In the effort to compensate for the previously lackluster homes, Jersey City residents are now intrigued by the new townhouses and apartments which blend into historical architecture. Along with the improvements to the sixth borough’s infrastructure, property is still widely affordable, so individuals who work in cities such as Manhattan or Brooklyn have the opportunity to avoid inflated rent prices while still residing in a location which has convenient proximity to their job.

10 Trenton Neighborhood Restoration Campaign – Vacant Property Database

 

Ambitious developers such as David Berry of Ironstate Development work diligently to establish a new perception of “America’s Golden Door.” He is responsible for the creation of two well-developed apartment rental complexes which are located near light rail stations. The first, 225 Grand, has 348 apartments. It is recognized for its large windows, encompassed by a frame of accented red bricks. With proportions reminiscent of a classic prewar building, the interior includes modern tastes such as countertops of granite and top-rated appliances.

In prime location just across the tracks from the light rail stands the 422 unit apartment complex of 18 Park. The building is comprised of a bold design of black and beige bricks set off from the main entrance, and the punched windows are abstractly banded together. 18 Park is distinctly recognized for its pixelated appearance which coincides with the modern digital age of the 21st century. The apartment complex represents the architectural philosophy that even the simplest of design materials can be combined with acute designs to make a building appear fresh and inventive. The visionary developer, David Barry, says, “Back in the early ’80s, I saw the trickle of activity in Jersey City. For me, I have no interest in slapping together 2-by-4s and calling it a day.”

 

Nearby the Grove St. PATH Station in Jersey City, the luxury apartment concept is gaining momentum with the development of two 50 level apartment complexes which hold over 1,000 apartments each. The immaculate and modernized luxury complexes stand proudly within the Jersey City infrastructure with towers detailed with an appearance of ivory. Designs originate from Manhattan’s acclaimed firm of Gwathmey Siegel, which owns a history of producing extravagant apartments and homes on the East End. Such structures display a new era of architecture in the Jersey City area, a far cry from the dingy apartment complexes of previous years. “Even five years ago, Jersey City was a different place, light years from where it is now, in terms of sophistication,” says David Barry. The mayor of Jersey City, Steven Fulop, says, “We want to see the Jersey City skyline continue to evolve and to differentiate itself from those across the river.” Since the light rail has become an integral part of Jersey City’s infrastructure, it is likely that developers will continue to take advantage of the rising property values and satisfy Mayor Fulop’s vision for Jersey City redevelopment

 

Reconstruction in the Hudson County city of Harrison is also centralizing around systems of rail, increasing interest in the commercial real estate. A seven level hotel building with 138 rooms is planned to open near to the PATH station. Residents of Harrison have struggled due to the plague of vacant industrial sites. To combat the issue and initiate a new era of prosperity, Mayor Raymond McDonough devised a redevelopment plan which will feature tax incentives to encourage development of shops and residences. Mayor McDonough hopes that by renovating and expanding the PATH line, attraction will increase to the city’s condos, apartments, hotels, and developing businesses.

 

The Twin Cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul are being “re-twinned” with the introduction of the Metro Area’s second light rail arrangement following the success of the Metro Transit Light Rail. It has been recognized as a major cause for developments such as a 262 unit tower known as 4MArq flanked by similar large complexes such as The Nic and the Soo Line apartments. Interestingly, the area in which these buildings reside in was formerly comprised of a large parking lot and lackluster retail stores similar to current conditions in the Trenton area. These 3 highly coveted buildings are just the tipping point of 2,000 other proposed apartment units which are arising into the infrastructure to capitalize on the rising trend of people in the area after the light rail’s establishment. According to area developers, the common link amongst
the projects is the Metro Transit Light Rail.

 

Douglas Schiedel, a sculptor from St. Paul says, “It only goes forward from here. It’s only the future from here. This is a new chapter.” Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin is excited to establish the connection as he believes that it is just what the area needs for societal advancement; “We are trying to create a transportation system that is going to keep us economically competitive in this century. Connecting these cities is critically important to that.” In addition, commercial and housing developments are expected to rise dramatically with a projection of $2.5 billion in project revenue. As was mentioned above, the light rail will increase wages an expected $252 million. With such significant projections, David Lanegran, a professor of Geography at Macalester College says, “Essentially, the light-rail system is changing the geography of the city. Some places are effectively becoming closer together, and that’s a big deal.” According to the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, the Green Line is a true game changer because it is the premier source of reliable and convenient transportation. Supporters proudly say that the light rail is not just a catalyst to jobs and buildings; but they also claim that it can transform the way that commuters travel, and promote a more cohesive standard of living for generations of the future.

 

To other examples, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce board members assert that administering a system of streetcars as the method for societal progression can decisively ensure the continuity of economic competitiveness for the county, as explained by Jay Fisette, the Board Chairman of the Arlington County Board. Upon conclusions made from his research, he describes the streetcar as an efficient method to ensure livability, innovation, and happiness in the county, adding that it is “our next generational investment” and a “lead for the future.” He continues to explain that the 7.4 mile rail line will be able to accommodate 40,000 new residents and 37,000 new jobs over the next 25 years.

 

In California, the Metro Expo Line is not only benefiting development, but it is also satisfying the preference of individuals for their desired method of travel. Ryan Adams, a resident of West Adams, California, says that as he was searching for a new home, he wanted one with reasonable proximity to a light rail station. He says, “Every house I looked at, I was doing the mental calculus. Would I be willing to walk from that address to the train?” The home he currently lives in is only two blocks away from the Farmdale Station. Adams also sees a doctor and dentist with offices nearby a light rail station, while leaving his car at home.

Cars Costs and a Shift of Customer’s Behavior:

New Jersey has the highest population density in the United States, and the possibility of growth is simultaneously rising making the need for an effective transportation system recognizable. Since 2009, sales of new cars to people aged 18 to 34 have decreased by a staggering measure of 30 percent, a statistic provided by Edmunds.com, an auto pricing site. For the demographic over age 35, the Pew Research Center reports that car sales have fallen by 12 percent since 2010. Furthermore, young individuals are less eager to earn a driver’s license and buy a car. In 2010, only 28 percent of 16 year olds had obtained a license, a sharp decline from the 50 percent that was measured in 1978. In 2010, out of the 17 year old, 45 percent had obtained licenses, compared to 66 percent in 1978; reported by the Department of Transportation. Finally, people drove 6 percent fewer miles since 2004, according to the DC Streets Blog, The Frontier Group and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund. Such findings show that private transportation via personal automobile is becoming less desirable. Therefore, the City of Trenton can implement a desired transportation system and attract visitor, consumers and businesses.

 

Health and Transportation:

 

Health risks such as heart disease and obesity are multiplied within the Trenton community. Nearly half of the city’s children are obese and chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease are the two leading causes of death. Although Trenton’s health issue is complicated and has many causes, such as food disparities and poverty, an increased use of public transit could provide a surprising amount of health benefits. Multiple studies depict the benefits of access to a healthy public transit and environment. The rail system that is recommended to be implemented can increase public health by reducing traffic fatalities, decreasing polluting agents which harm the communities, and promoting daily physical activity as mentioned above. Moreover, the new system can connect unemployed individuals with new job opportunities.

Tourism and Attraction:

Trenton also has historical importance which can serve as a constant attraction to tourism. New Jersey’s State House, located in the heart of Trenton, is the second oldest State House still in use within the United States. Laws of New Jersey have been made by Senators, Assemblyman, and Governors in the building since the design by Jonathan Doane was completed in 1792. Original structuring of the building featured a bell tower on top, which was later replaced by the dome once restoration to the building was completed in 1999. Efforts to raise money for the dome were carried out by school children of New Jersey during the “Dimes for the Dome” project. Money which was raised contributed to paying for the 48,000 gold leafs which adorn the State House Dome. Following the successful efforts of the children, the dome represents honor towards the children of New Jersey. If capitalized upon, with the implementation of reconstruction centered upon light rail expansion, the New Jersey State House can serve as a major attraction and draw tourists into the state of New Jersey as a stimulus to economic impact.

 

The Delaware and Raritan Canal covers a distance of 66 miles from Bordentown to New Brunswick. The approximate middle of the canal is located in Trenton. It was originally created in the 1830s to make the transportation of goods more efficient. It is a part of the National Register of Historic Places, due to the presence of famous canal houses such as the Blackwells Mills Canal House and the Port Mercer Canal House. Blackwells Mills has been restored as a community center, museum, and library, and Port Mercer features small gardens and tours of the house. It is also the home of the Lawrence Historical Society. The canal is a very scenic area which effectively draws visitors on a regular basis, but it could become a tourist hotspot if further development similar to San Antonio’s River Walk were to be implemented.

 

The light rail system can help create economic development projects. Hotels placed alongside the canal would be in prime location to attract visitors for its unique perspective of the scenic canal. Restaurants, comedy clubs, and museums would be just a few developments which would serve as highly desirable attractions. Canal rides would naturally be quite alluring to both New Jersey residents and tourists alike. Businesses able to secure a location along the canal would likely be treated to increased customer traffic due to the very unique location. A light rail station in Trenton nearby the canal would not only provide citizens with increased job opportunities, but also raise tourism opportunities and quality of life, as individuals will have easy access to one of the country’s most unique sites.

 

Focusing a plan upon this infrastructure enhancement and the extension of the RiverLINE can bring Trenton into a new era of prosperity and opportunity for its residents, while generating revenue from tourists who come to see its established attractions. Due to the presence of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, the Trenton Battle Monument, and the State House, Mercer County has the potential to not only be the premier attraction site of New Jersey for tourists, but also the most desirable county to live in due to the increased availability of jobs and unique attractions which ensure a sustainable high quality of life.

The City of Trenton is expected to experience a positive economic impact if the light rail is implemented. The benefits will include, for example, real estate, employment, wage and attracting new business. Due to findings from researchers of the light rail, it can be concluded that investing into this public transit system is one of the safest and most effective decisions to be made for infrastructure development. It saves travel time, transportation costs, and stress, as well as a very significant return on investment. Public transportation has the ability to benefit all people within a community. It is an affordable method of transportation which people can use to access work, school, and leisure. And it provides greater community access to low income individuals who cannot afford more expensive transportation methods.

 

The light rail system 11 is present in many regions that needed economic development and aiding in promoting enhancing the local area. These are the following cities that have electric light rail transit: Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Hudson-Bergen, Kenosha, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Memphis, Newark, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, San Pedro, Seattle, Tacoma and Tampa, reported by the Light Rail Now Project. Please see map, red is metro and blue is light rail, provided by
Urbanrail.net, an example of rail system locations.

11 Electric Light Rail Transit, includes interurban and streetcar

 

Public transportation systems positively affect the quality of life of an area by reducing vehicle congestion on roads, which decreases the rate of traffic accidents and the carbon emissions from automobiles. Public Transit also makes an area more desirable for investors in business or real estate, since property values tend to rise when located nearby a rail system.

 

Implementing the light rail system in Trenton bodes well for the Capital City since similar areas such as Jersey City, Hoboken, the Twin Cities of Minnesota, and the H Street Corridor of Washington D.C. have experienced economic impact, contributing to an overall greater quality of life. This study depicts the unprecedented economic and social benefits of a downtown Light Rail system. The City of Trenton, government officials, planners, and policy experts should endorse this project for the long-list of viable opportunities that it will create. This project is a direct investment into the future of the Capital City and deserves full consideration.

Works Cited:

 

  • The United States Census
  • Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics of the United States Census
  • On the Map, the United States Census
  • The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • The New Jersey Department of Labor
  • Light Rail Now
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  • City of Trenton – Division of Tax Assessment
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