Streetsblog, The Problem With America’s New Streetcars. "Cities may have valid reasons for seeking more downtown investment, but these streetcars should be recognized for what they are: economic development projects, not solutions to the transit and transportation problems cities face today." Yes, that was explicit in the construction of the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit and implicit in the first extension of the Chicago Rapid Transit to Niles Center, now Skokie.
If you're going to run the rapid transit lines as public services, it's not so much farebox recovery as sustainable commercial and residential development, i.e. a tax base, that matters.