Ridesharing during COVID (left). CTA launches small business program (center). Flood maps for Miami, D.C. & NYC (right)
Article of the Week
Transportation Dept. Opens Program to Make Public Transit Accessible
Stephanie Lai, New York Times, July 26, 2022
The USDOT will make $1.75 billion available over the next several years to help transit agencies upgrade their stations to bring them into ADA compliance. This money will allow agencies to install ramps, elevators, and visual and audio aids to stations. Major targeted systems include legacy services such as the NY MTA, CTA, SEPTA, and MBTA, which require substantial capital to improve accessibility for riders.
MASSACHUSETTS—Uber and Lyft Ridership May Be Faring Even Worse Than Transit
Christian MilNeil, Streetblogs Massachusetts, July 22, 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected ridership not only for public transit, but for ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft. Mirroring issues facing many transit agencies including retaining vehicle operators and reduced trip demand, app-based ride-hailing companies have lost drivers to competing take-out and meal-delivery services. Expensive and controversial legal campaigns have also slowed the firms’ momentums, suggesting that public transportation is not especially far behind competing modes and services in a world emerging from the pandemic.
NEWARK—Project to Turn Razed N.J. Baseball Stadium into 4,200 Apartments Clears Final Hurdle
Steve Strunsky, NJ Advance Media, July 26, 2022
Newark City Council approved a tax abatement for the CitiSquare project that is due to replace the Newark Bears Stadium along the Passaic River. The project will be built one block from Broad Street Station and stands to reinforce transit connectivity, as Newark also aims to develop a walkable and exciting 24-hour downtown. The $18 million abatement will be implemented in phases as parts of the project are completed.
EGG HARBOR—New Jersey Transit, Port Authority to Share in More than $5.5 Million in Federal Funds, Senators Announce
Al Sullivan, TapInto, July 25, 2022
In a cooperative move, NJ TRANSIT and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will share over $5.5 million in federal funding for two transit projects. NJ TRANSIT will receive nearly $4 million to improve and repair the bus terminal in Egg Harbor, NJ that was damaged in a tropical storm and PANYNJ will use its $1.5 million to help pay for COVID expenses such as for disinfectants, temperature screening, and more.
WEEHAWKEN—Cleaner, Bigger NY Waterway Ferry Hits the Hudson River After Retrofit
Larry Higgs, NJ.com, July 25, 2022
NY Waterway, which operates ferry lines between Weehawken, NJ and New York City, have retrofitted engines to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency. With $12 million in Federal Transit Administration funding, the ferry service has also improved passenger carrying capacity of six boats by 60 percent. NY Waterway thanked NJ TRANSIT and other stakeholders for their assistance in leveraging this grant and described the waterway service as a complement to service offered by NJ TRANSIT.
ILLINOIS—CTA Launches New Building Small Businesses Program
Mass Transit, July 26, 2022
Seeking to better embed equity and inclusion in its operations, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has partnered with Ascend HUB Interactive to form the CTA Building Small Businesses (BSB) Program. The program aims to increase participation in transportation capital projects, provide tools for local/small businesses, and provide resources such as loans to locate such businesses near transit facilities. CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. said the BSB program will support minority-owned small businesses, which are often disadvantaged from participating in contracting opportunities at large-scale facilities.
MASSACHUSETTS—Public Bathroom Access an Undervalued But Necessary Element of Walking, Transit Infrastructure
Grecia White, Streetblog Massachusetts, July 25, 2022
Boston-area advocates have drawn attention to the relationship between public transit, access to public restrooms, and equity. The lack of publicly available restrooms disproportionately affects individuals with disabilities, older adults, and women. Using restrooms at some train stations can require asking for access. Additionally, private companies limited access to restrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts to improve access to restrooms include making a temporary facility permanent in a park in Cambridge, and providing better information about existing facilities. Such an effort includes a website created by a Commonwealth School student that maps locations of public toilets in Boston.
The State of America’s Free Transit Programs
Planetizen, July 25, 2022
Many American transit systems adopted a fare-free model in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes reportedly sped up onboarding times, reduced confrontations between riders and operators, and lowered operating costs. However, consideration related to fare-free operations include service quality, the effect on car dependence, and previous support by pandemic assistance funds. Grappling with these aspects of fare-free operations will be critical as transit agencies reposition themselves in the coming years to provide fair, efficient service.
Henry Grabar, Slate, July 17, 2022
Single room occupancy (SRO) buildings and hotels once served as an affordable means of shelter in many American cities. Over time, however, many began to view them as culturally akin to slums and a symptom of urban decline. Many cities outlawed the operations of SROs but rising homelessness and declining affordability have some looking at the value that SROs and long-term hotels could provide.
These Hurricane Flood Maps Reveal the Climate Future for Miami, NYC and D.C.
Jenny Staletovich, Nick Underwood, Jaclyn Jeffrey-Wilenshy, Rosemary Misdary, and Jacob Fenston, NPR, July 28, 2022
The growing intensity of storms is predicted to bring higher and higher flood waters to the American Eastern Seaboard and its cities. Summarizing research for Miami, Washington, D.C., and New York City, NPR notes that entire swaths of these culturally and economically important cities could become submerged. With the risks of “100-year storms” now expected to occur roughly six times more often than the term would imply, further development in this region will need to consider resiliency and disaster planning more proactively to avoid tragedies such as resulted from Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina.
What if the suburbs were just a first draft?
Addison Del Mastro, Vox, July 26, 2022
American suburbanization has seen a new type of growth and direction, as millennials and immigrants increasingly call suburbs home. Densification and the return to the more traditional, pre-automobile market-street design highlights the “second draft” of American suburbs’ built-environments that support living in communities. With the state of the housing market and the recent acceleration in working from home, these suburban trends and how they incorporate mixed-use and walkable spaces may define Americans’ lifestyles for years to come.
CALIFORNIA—Staffing Shortage Prompts Transit District to Consider Hiring Bus Drivers In-House
Phil Diehl, San Diego Tribune, July 26, 2022
North County Transit District (NCTD) faces difficulties in retaining bus drivers, which has prompted the San Diego-area transit agency to reconsider its management practices. One official cited higher wages for drivers, offered by Amazon and others organizations and posited that offering pensions and healthcare benefits, which would occur if contract-drivers were hired as “in-house” staff, might help the agency better compete for staff. More bus drivers will be necessary for San Diego to improve the frequency and headways of NCTD service and recover from pandemic-era shortfalls.
FLORIDA—The Deadliest Road in America
Marin Cogan, VOX, July 25, 2022
US-19, one of the deadliest corridors in America, runs along the Florida west coast within three miles of its warm waters and soft sandy beaches. More than 100 feet wide, the 6-lane road expands to 8 and 9 lanes at some intersections, and provides few pedestrian crossings, resulting in a pedestrian fatality rate that’s 20 percent higher than the next deadly road. The state has spent millions attempting to improve safety, but the results have not matched the investment. Experts have suggested several possible solutions including improved transit, reduced driveways, road diets, and automatic enforcement.
NORTH CAROLINA—Charlotte is Stopping Short of Eliminating Parking Minimums
Alexandria Sands, WBTV, July 25, 2022
Citing claims that Charlotte’s public transit system is not yet reliable enough, the city plans to roll back reduced parking minimums for new development. Proposed changes would require parking for multifamily housing, bars, restaurants, and other uses within transit-oriented development zoning districts. Others wonder how more parking would improve light rail frequency. They argue that the true cost of parking, $1,500 annually per tenant, highlights the unappreciated costs of such a move, and suggest implementing residential parking plans for street parking as a compromise.
CONNECTICUT—Connecticut’s Transit-Oriented-Development Efforts Should Leverage Its Walkable Cities
Rosalie Ray, Connecticut by the Numbers, July 23, 2022
As Connecticut reorients itself towards more transit-friendly planning, special attention needs to be paid to how walkability fits into the state’s transit ambitions. Researchers noted that the Metro-North New Haven Line has only six walkable, well-connected stations. Rising sea levels have threatened these historic walkable spaces. Dr. Rosalie Ray suggests that the State of Connecticut should incorporate data-driven considerations for transportation, such as intersection density, into its planning, and direct transit funding to improve walkability.
INDIA—Cidco Creates Record by Constructing 12-storey Building in Ulwe in 96 Days
BB Nayak, The Times of India, July 27, 2022
The City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) of Maharashtra has undertaken a Mass Housing Scheme under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY) based on Transit Oriented Development (TOD). Using advanced precast technology, the agency constructed a 12-story residential tower with 96 units at Bamandongri locality in Navi Mumbai in just 96 days. Economically weaker sections (EWS) and low-income group (LIG) categories will be the beneficiaries of housing built under the PMAY scheme across Navi Mumbai.
MALAYSIA—SOHO Transit 2 at Astrum Ampang Open for Sale
Priya Devan, The Edge Markets, July 27, 2022
Setia Awan Group opened its Phase 2 SOHO Transit 2 project for sale in the transit-oriented development (TOD) region of Astrum Ampang. With a gross development value of RM3.128 million, the SOHO Transit 2 comprises 1,360 studio apartments. A 150-meter covered walkway connects the property to the Jelatek LRT Station, which is four train stops from Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC), and one stop from the forthcoming MRT 3 station. The launch coincided with the opening of the Astrum Ampang Experience Centre on Jalan Ampang.
CANADA—BC Government Fires Warning Shot to City of Port Moody’s Consideration of Reducing Future Density Around SkyTrain Station
Kenneth Chan, Daily Hive, July 22, 2022
As the Moody Centre TOD Area Master Planning Group, which includes the provincial government and other partners, gears up to build a dozen towers comprising nearly 4,100 homes, the municipal government of Port Moody is contemplating strategies to lower the permitted density level. Although the Moody Centre Station has the greatest public support for redevelopment, the municipal government is considering a new public consultation on five land use scenarios for Moody Centre TOD, including three scenarios that propose reducing density. In reaction, the provincial government has written to the Port Moody mayor, Rob Vagramov, warning against any strategies that could compromise developmental opportunities to concentrate new housing adjacent to SkyTrain transit stations.