A new paper(pdf) by Andrew Heidel proposes using TIF money to fund development of new stations along existing CTA rail lines. He identifies a number of potential sites, implements a simple method of ranking them based mainly on past TIF growth and ridership potential.
It’s good that the potential of TIF’s as a transit funding tool is recognized, but the paper presents problems both for Georgists and for transit rider advocates.
For Georgists the big concern is that, though Heidel does cite work by Bill Batt, and Jeff Smith/Tom Gihring(pdf), he doesn’t seem to recognize the difference between land and improvements. A related concern is that his evaluation assumes that past trends in each TIF’s value predict the future trend, which is to say that the possible new transit station will have no effect on value.
For transit rider advocates, it is bothersome that he rejects restoration of closed stations on the Congress line because, after all, they were closed due to low ridership. That seems to assume that little new development will take place. As a result, most of the stations he considers are at sites where service was discontinued in the 1950s, rather than the 1970s. No rationale is provided for this decision.
It is also striking that he was informed, apparently by CTA, that the cost to build a station on an existing line is $165,000, and the maintenance cost is $50,000/year. In fact, can anyone report a cta station built or rebuilt for less than $5 million in recent years?
Still, at least someone is paying attention to the fact that the value created by transit facilities can be recovered for the community thru the real estate tax.
Heidel presented his paper at the 2008 Transport Chicago Conference. Most of the papers presented there are here.