Melbourne (Australia) Affordable Housing Challenge (left); Vaccinating transit workers (top right); Toronto Transit (bottom right)
ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
Does New York Really Need an All-Night Subway?
John Surico, Bloomberg CityLab, February 25, 2021
New York City is an outlier—a global city that typically offers 24/7 subway service. Some advocates argue that the city owes much of its development and culture to reliable, round-the-clock service, and hope that its hours, cut for comprehensive cleaning in the early morning hours, will soon return. The author analyzes how New York’s Manhattan-centric transit layout has shaped land use and lifestyles, while considering the need for more robust maintenance and service between the outer boroughs.
COVID-19 TOD NEWS
PENNSYLVANIA—SEPTA and the Future of Public Transit
Radio Times, WHYY, February 25, 2021
WHYY’s Radio Times explores the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on public transportation in Philadelphia and the entire country. Christopher Puchalsky, of the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS) discusses problems and solutions for transit in the metropolitan area, and engineering professor Christopher Sales of Drexel University, as well as Janna Chernetz, Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s Director of New Jersey Policy, look at transit’s future on a broader scale.
NEW YORK—MTA Launches New COVID Vaccination Site for Frontline Employees
MTA, February 23, 2021
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced a new dedicated COVID-19 vaccine location for its transit workers in downtown Brooklyn, allowing up to 200 MTA employees to receive vaccinations each day. Nearly 10,000 MTA workers have been vaccinated to date, though it will take time to inoculate the authority’s roughly 74,000 employees.
Covid Relief Could Leave Bus Companies Behind
Laura Bliss, Bloomberg CityLab, February 23, 2021
Before the pandemic, private buses carried 575 million passengers each year. While bookings are now at all an all-time low, the industry has been apportioned only a tiny fraction of the funding in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package. Without more federal funds, the future looks grim for the private bus industry, which provides needed low-cost intercity transportation, as well as commuter and charter services across the country.
PENNSYLVANIA—No mask? You’ll Need a Doctor’s Note to Ride a BARTA Bus
Holly Herman, Reading Eagle, February 23, 2021
Reading’s BARTA Bus Service will require customers unable to wear masks to provide proof in the form of a medical exemption card. The rule change was prompted by updated CDC regulations that mandate the use of masks on public transit except in special circumstances.
NEW JERSEY—Transportation Advocates Push for a Bus Passenger Bill of Rights
Raven Santana, NJ Spotlight, February 22, 2021
In order to improve service quality, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign has released a bus passenger “bill of rights,” hoping to codify quality of service into law for essential workers. Data have shown that, despite the pandemic, 50 percent of riders continue to use buses, and they tend to be essential workers coming from low-income or marginalized communities. This bill aims to ensure equity across the state’s transportation system.
The Future of Planning is Agile, People-Centric, and Technologically Advanced
Petra Hurtado, PhD, Planning.org, February 10, 2021
An American Planning Association-Lincoln Land Institute research team recently examined the critical trends that will affect the planning profession, and sought to identify skills and areas of knowledge planners will need to be effective in the future. The team analyzed trends in environmental, societal, technological, economic, and political spheres, and rated them according to planner preparedness, expected impact, and their certainty of occurring. They found that both planners and communities were not sufficiently prepared for changes in Artificial Intelligence, smart city technology, and the increases in “digitalization” in many parts of life.
NJ TOD News
Newark Municipal Council Grants Tax Exemption to Vibe, a Resort-Style Apartment Complex
Realty Biz News, February 24, 2021
The Vibe Newark development was approved for a 30-year tax abatement as part of the City of Newark’s Payment in Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) program, with 10 percent of the development’s 270 units to be reserved as affordable housing. The building will be within walking distance of both the Newark Light Rail’s Washington Street Station and Newark Penn Station.
Glassboro-Camden Line in New Jersey Completes Environmental Impact Study
Roads & Bridges, February 24, 2021
The Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) finished its Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for a proposed 18-mile light rail line that would connect communities from Glassboro to Camden’s Walter Reed Transportation Center, with a transfer connect to Philadelphia. The project’s next phase will be preliminary engineering design.
Mill Creek Announces Groundbreaking of 173-Unit Modera Berkeley Heights Apartment Community in Northern New Jersey Locale
MultiFamily Biz, February 24, 2021
Mill Creek Residential is currently constructing a 173-unit luxury apartment community in the Township of Berkeley Heights, a half-mile walk from the municipality’s NJ TRANSIT Station. The development is expected to be completed in 2022.
Construction Begins on Phase 1B of Brownstones
Rahway Rising, February 22, 2021
Meridia Brownstones is a 487-unit, multi-building development being constructed in phases near the western edge of Rahway Station. The first phase (1A) was recently completed with the construction of 172 units.
Regional and National TOD News
NEW YORK—Governor Cuomo Advances 20-Million-Square-Foot Empire Station Complex Redevelopment Plan, in Midtown, Manhattan
Vanessa Londono, New York YIMBY, February 20, 2021
Governor Cuomo recently announced that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) board of directors has adopted the general project plan for the Empire Station Complex. The plan, and supporting draft Environmental Impact Statement, aims to bring high-density redevelopment to eight sites surrounding New York Penn Station, adding five (1000+ feet) new supertall skyscrapers, as well as up to nine additional tracks and five new platforms. The ESDC hopes to use revenue from building construction to finance improvements to the station.
PENNSYLVANIA—SEPTA to Use COVID Relief Funds to Move Ahead with King of Prussia Rail Line
Darryl C. Murphy, WHYY, February 25, 2021
The board of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) voted to allocate federal pandemic relief funds to the King of Prussia Rail Project, which would connect one of the region’s largest employment centers to the rail network. The project will extend the Norristown High Speed Line five miles to King of Prussia for an estimated $2 billion.
CALIFORNIA — Berkeley Votes to End Single-Family Zoning
Fareeha Reman, KRON4, February 24, 2021
The City of Berkeley unanimously struck down a 1916 zoning regulation that prevented the construction of multifamily housing for the last century. Officials acknowledged that the single-family restrictions had led to a disproportionate share of white, higher-income homeowners in the city.
MASSACHUSETTS—Leasing Begins at Newburyport ‘Smart Growth’ Complex
Dave Rogers, Daily News of Newburyport, February 22, 2021
A new apartment complex directly adjacent to the MBTA Commuter Rail Newburyport Station is now accepting tenant applications. The development is part of the first Smart Growth Overlay District in the state, and 25 percent its 76 units are designated as affordable housing.
MINNESOTA—Gold Line Could Spur Development of New Woodbury Neighborhood
Bob Shaw, Pioneer Press, February 21, 2021
City planners in the City of Woodbury are examining how the municipality could change its land use pattern to fit the proposed Gold Line corridor, a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project which would connect Woodbury to downtown St. Paul, nine miles to the west. The City envisions much denser housing, additional businesses, and a new park along the corridor.
INDIANA—East Chicago Growth Opportunities Targeted in Transit-Oriented Development Plan
Andrew Steele, The Times of Northwestern Indiana, February 19, 2021
The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority has proposed a new Transit Development District (TDD), located along the South Shore Line’s East Chicago Station, one of its highest-ridership stations. The plan examines specific parcels that can be redeveloped, with gains in tax revenue to be reinvested into the TDD using tax-increment financing (TIF).
CALIFORNIA—California Bill Would Lean on Cities to Build Multiunit Housing
Alexei Koseff, San Francisco Chronicle February 18, 2021
A new bill introduced in the California State Senate would limit floor-area ratio regulations, effectively encouraging denser development. For example, in Marin County, duplexes are currently required to have a 0.3 floor-area ratio, with a minimum lot size of 7,500 sq. ft. The bill would quintuple that, setting a floor-ratio standard of 1.5, and enabling the construction of taller, denser housing in a state experiencing a serious housing crisis.
International TOD News
AUSTRALIA—Radical Ideas For Affordable Housing in Melbourne
Architecture AU, February 25, 2021
A University of Sydney student was awarded first prize in the Melbourne Affordable Housing Challenge, with a concept to reclaim air rights above rail and tram corridors. The student, Evan Langendorfer, proposed using modular, prefabricated materials to speed up construction, and enhancing the housing structure with plenty of green space.
VIETNAM—HCMC Suggested to Pilot Bus Priority Lane
Quoc Hung, VietReader, February 23, 2021
Hoping to alleviate Ho Chi Minh City’s (HCMC) traffic congestion, the HCMC Department of Transport shared a transportation vision for the city, including 8 subway lines, 3 tramways, 6 bus rapid transit (BRT) corridors, and 200 bus routes. The department hopes to use the plan, and a bus priority lane pilot, to attract riders to transit.
CANADA—Not Enough Homes Are Being Built for Public Transit Riders in Toronto
Ainsley Smith, Toronto Storeys, February 22, 2021
A new study by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) found a lack of housing being built in the transit suburbs—areas outside of the urban core accessible by transit—in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. The CMHC attributed the dip in development to local opposition, zoning regulations, and cheaper incentives to build in auto-centric suburbs.
CANADA—Focusing on Transit Routes for Development Can Lead to Displacement, B.C. Study Suggests
Alyse Kotyk, CTV News, February 19, 2021
A new study by a researcher from the University of British Columbia found a connection between transit-oriented development (TOD) and the potential for displacement. Craig Jones, research coordinator for UBC’s Housing Research Collaborative, found a net loss of 600 rental units due to redevelopment along the new Evergreen Line corridor. Jones found a similar phenomenon in the area of Vancouver’s Metrotown SkyTrain Station.