Streetcar delivering customers, businesses say

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Streetcar delivering customers, businesses say

By Craig Smith. CREATED Aug 12, 2014

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson's modern streetcar has been a new lease on life for Tucson's downtown businesses.

Downtown was already waking up, in part because of the potential of customers the streetcar would bring.
Now that's it's been carrying passengers for just less than three weeks how well has streetcar has been delivering customers?

As the streetcars rolled past downtown's Chicago Music Store, Malcolm Jackson Junior, was playing the blues but businesses we checked along the streetcar route are not singing the blues.
More than two weeks after the streetcar started moving passengers, the business it's bringing in has merchants singing a happy tune...happy enough that Mark Levkowitz  of the Chicago Store says he may stay open later.

"We normally close at six but we've had a lot of people coming up to the door when we're ready to leave so we come back in and take care of them so we may consider changing our hours."
The streetcar's been bringing more people who like fine olives and olive oils to Tucson Olive Central.

There, Jameela Abdullah says the streetcar has really made a difference.

"They're like, ‘Oh I just came off the streetcar. I saw your business.  It looks very interesting,’ so they stop by.” 

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked:  “Are they browsing or buying?”

Jameela Abdullah: “They're browsing and buying,” she laughs, “It's pretty great."
Back at the Chicago Store, Malcolm Jackson concedes, he hasn't tried the street car yet.

"Probably gonna get on today, through.”

But even without riding the streetcar, he's seen how through events like the Second Saturdays celebration, the streetcar's helped roll more life to downtown.

"And it was crowded.  I saw a lot of people out there.  I think it's gonna be .  It should be a good thing.  Hopefully it should get better.”
All along, the streetcar has been pitched as economic development as much as transportation.  Boosters say businesses are more inclined to invest along a streetcar line, because once it's built the line is locked in, unlike a bus route that can change.

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

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Craig enjoys using innovative writing and visuals to make difficult stories easier to understand. As a newsroom manager at KGUN 9, Craig was part of the team that won three best newscast awards from Arizona Associated Press