Columbus is moving forward with a proposed $103 million electric streetcar line that will run through several city neighborhoods and be financed in part with revenue bonds as well as private contributions from area institutions.
Mayor Michael Coleman proposed the streetcar line as a way to spur economic development.
Officials have said they will establish a “benefit zone” along most of the proposed 2.8-mile route, which would provide at least 80% of the funding. That funding would come from a 4% fee for off-street parking and concerts and sports tickets, an increase in parking meter rates — up to 75 cents an hour — and dedication of existing parking meter revenues. Financing would also come from the fares, which would average $1 a ride.
Ohio State University has pledged $12.5 million toward construction, and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission has said it would contribute another $20 million to the project. Remaining funding would come from outside the area, including federal funds, short-term naming rates, and advertising.
“A sleek, modern streetcar system will reconnect neighborhoods and downtown, connect workers to jobs in a time of high gas prices, help build our economy, and we can do it all without a citywide tax increase,” Coleman said in a statement.
Officials have estimated the system would cost $11.4 million a year for 25 years, including $6.9 million for debt service and $4.5 million of annual operating costs. The costs were estimated based in part on estimates of the costs of issuing tax-exempt long-term bonds with an annual interest rate of 4.5%.