Oculus Transportation Hub (left); Transportation Demand Management in Los Angeles, CA (top right); The Gateway Center, Newark, NJ (bottom right)
Article of the Week
CALIFORNIA—Electric Vehicles Won’t Save Us
Coby Lefkowitz, Marker, June 16, 2021
Although electric vehicles (EVs) emit three times less carbon dioxide than gas-powered vehicles (4,100 versus 11,500 lbs CO2e), this article asserts that their sustainability benefits have been overstated and are not likely to solve our environmental problems. Even if all cars in operation were electric by 2030, and if vehicle production processes were carbon neutral, these shifts would t only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 to 20 percent. Rather than focusing on EVs as a panacea, Lefkowitz argues that their implementation must be accompanied by a shift away from car-first planning – a planning model that has resulted in farmland loss, increased heat from expansive asphalt, and sprawling suburban land uses – all of which lead to environments more vulnerable to the devastating effects of climate change. The antidote is people-first design, built to an urban standard that allows for more efficient land use and relies on public transit and new mobility options for transportation, rather than the car-oriented status quo that places people and communities in peril.
How Transit Can Lure Back Post-Covid Commuters
David Zipper, Bloomberg CityLab, June 16, 2021
As workers reimagine their commutes, transit agencies have the opportunity to attract new riders. To do this, some transit agencies are reconceiving themselves as “mobility managers”—focusing on a variety of modes and improving services for commuters. Miami-Dade Transit has begun to reward users for bikeshare or transit use with points that can be redeemed toward an e-scooter ride or carsharing service. In Austin, Texas, and Minnesota’s Twin Cities, agencies offer “Guaranteed Ride Home” programs that reimburse commuters for a middle-of-the-day emergency trip by cab when transit service is sparse. These tactics can align to provide a compelling service for new riders.
Final in a Series: From “Commuter Railroads” to “Regional Railroads”
David Peter Alan, Railway Age, June 15, 2021
New Jersey-based transit advocate David Peter Alan concludes a series on “Commuting Post-Covid.” Alan discusses how commuter-oriented railroads can re-envision their services for a new era of hybridized work. One change is as simple as rebranding “commuter rail” to “regional rail” to help change public perspectives, as SEPTA in Philadelphia has done. Another is to restructure fares to incentivize rail use, such as reinstating off-peak fares and providing more flexible discounts and transfers to single-use riders. In the longer-run, rail agencies should consider developing new rail lines that provide transportation outside of the traditional commuter hubs to build a more resilient network.
NEW YORK—N.Y.’s Latest Vaccine Incentive? Free Public Transportation For a Week
Bethany Bump, Times-Union, June 14, 2021
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new vaccination incentive program, explaining that New Yorkers who received vaccines in the period between June 15 and July 14 would be eligible for a free, weeklong transit pass from six upstate transportation agencies. Participating transit agencies include Albany’s Capital District Transportation Authority, Binghamton’s Broome County Transit, and the Rochester-Genessee Regional Transportation Authority, among others.
The World Stopped but Transit Kept Moving
Institute for Transportation & Development Policy, June 9, 2021
The Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP), released the Rapid Transit Database, a first of its kind repository for publicly available transit data across the world. The database features the Rapid Transit Ratio (RTR), a metric that compares system length to population, demonstrating how well-served an area is by rapid transit. For example, through 20 years of expansion, the RTR for China has risen from 1.4 to 9.5.
NEWARK—Opinion: Inclusion By Design
Lata N. Reddy, NJBiz, June 14, 2021
Lata Reddy, senior vice president of inclusive solutions at Prudential Financial, discusses the potential for Corporate America to better include communities in redevelopment plans. Reddy examines the history of Newark’s Gateway Center, which was designed as an insular hub that kept commuters away from the city’s streets and local businesses, after the 1967 riots. Reddy says that Prudential, in leading the redevelopment of the Gateway Center, is looking to be more permeable and foster better connections between commuters and the community.
EAST ORANGE—Blue Onyx Breaks Ground on 78-unit Complex in East Orange
ROI-NJ, June 16, 2021
Blue Onyx Companies began construction of a 78-unit affordable housing complex in East Orange, located next to an affordable building built by the same developer. The development will be a half-mile walk from the NJ TRANSIT East Orange Station.
NEWARK—Tax Abatement Possible for Upcoming 403-Unit Development in Newark’s Ironbound
Jared Kofsky, Jersey Digs, June 16, 2021
The Newark Municipal Council is considering a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) tax abatement for a transit-oriented development in the city’s Ironbound neighborhood. The project is a redevelopment of a private parking lot into a 403-unit complex close to Newark Penn Station. Instead of paying taxes, for the next twenty-five years the developer would submit an annual payment to the City.
JERSEY CITY—Massive High-Rise Complex with Over 3,000 Units Proposed Off Route 440, Jersey City
Jared Kofsky, Jersey Digs, June 15, 2021
Developer Route 440 Developers LLC filed an application to the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency (JCRA) for a massive new project on the city’s West Side, consisting of several towers that, if approved, would eventually contain 3,098 units when fully completed. The multi-tower complex would be built around a new extension of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail (HBLR), which will terminate at the Hackensack River. This project would be located across Route 440 from the JCRA’s Bayfront complex, which may have as many as 8,000 housing units at full build-out.
Report: Here’s Where People of Color Can’t Access Opportunity Without a Car
Kea Wilson, Streetsblog, June 17, 2021
A new analysis, conducted by the advocacy group TransitCenter, of six of the largest U.S. public transportation systems found gaps in access to employment centers and amenities for people of color. The interactive TransitCenter Equity Dashboard shows how transit access varies by different demographic groups in various metropolitan areas, and then makes policy recommendations to close those gaps. These recommendations include increasing transit frequency, making commuter rail fares affordable, coordinating transportation and land use, and realigning service for people’s travel needs.
VIRGINIA—What Will It Take to Modernize Virginia’s Public Transit Systems?
Wyatt Gordon, Virginia Mercury, June 15, 2021
The Commonwealth of Virginia hosts two of the worst-funded transit systems in the country, but a new study commissioned by Virginia lawmakers has tasked the Department of Rail and Public Transportation with studying how equitable the current system is, and then making recommendations for modernization. The study is expected to be completed by August, 2022, hopefully in time for the findings to be incorporated into the Governor’s biennial budget.
ILLINOIS—The City Has Received Applications to Add More Than 160 Coach Houses and Granny Flats. Will They Help Solve Chicago’s Affordable Housing Shortage?
Sarah Freishtat, Chicago Tribune, June 14, 2021
The City of Chicago launched a pilot program that allows the construction of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), or coach houses, in local parlance. Depending on their neighborhood regulations, homeowners can add multiple units, in both their backyard and house interior. To promote equity, the Chicago Department of Housing will offer forgivable $25,000 loans to low- and moderate-income homeowners wishing to build accessory units, and make available additional funding for ADA accessible projects.
LOUISIANA—Wealthy Investors Are Not the Answer for Revitalizing Black Neighborhoods
Christopher J. Tyson, Bloomberg CityLab, June 14, 2021
Christopher Tyson, the head of the redevelopment authority Build Baton Rouge, argues that market-based solutions for revitalizing disinvested, marginalized neighborhoods are highly ineffective. Instead, equity-focused redevelopment authorities should collaborate with land banks, and the communities they work with, to reinvigorate distressed areas.
Amazon Investing $300 Million to Develop Affordable Housing in Nashville, Washington D.C. Area and Puget Sound Area
Mischa Wanek-Libman, Mass Transit, June 17,2021
Amazon announced a partnership agreement with the several transit agencies across the country to coordinate a $300 million investment toward the construction of affordable housing. For example, in the Washington, D.C. area, the funding will be applied to joint development agreements on WMATA-owned property, and contribute to the creation of low- and middle-income housing units. The initiative is billed as a step towards closing the housing affordability gap in areas where the shipping giant operates.
ILLINOIS—High-end Garden Station Mixed-Use Apartment Building to Rise near Villa Park Metra Station
Scott C. Morgan, Daily Herald, June 17, 2021
Villa Park, a Chicago suburb, voted to approve a luxury seven-story apartment building near the village’s Metra commuter rail station. A portion of the 348-unit development will be built on a village-owned parking lot. The one board member who voted against the project cited its lack of affordable housing for working-class community members as the primary reason.
Nuria Fernandez Confirmed Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration
David C. Lester, RT&S, June 15, 2021
Nuria Fernandez was confirmed by the Senate as Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and is the first Senate-confirmed woman of color to lead the agency. Fernandez has had a distinguished career in the transportation sector, most recently as CEO of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), and in previous leadership roles at the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Chicago Transit Authority, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority. She served as the Acting Administrator of the FTA under President Clinton in 1997.
CALIFORNIA—City of L.A. to Expand Transportation Demand Management Ordinance
Steven Sharp, Urbanize LA, June 14, 2021
The Los Angeles Department of City Planning proposed an ordinance that would require developers to take action to minimize the number of new vehicle trips generated by their projects. The Transportation Demand Management Ordinance (TDMO) would use a calculator to determine new trips and how to reduce them, such as incentivizing transit use, as well as biking and walking. The proposed ordinance is currently in the virtual workshop and public hearing phase.
CANADA—Ontario Proposes Three New Transit-Oriented Communities along Ontario Line
Daily Commercial News, June 17, 2021
The Ontario Government recently announced that three stations on the in-progress Ontario Line would be planned for transit-oriented developments, to both maximize adjacent land uses and defray capital costs. The Ontario Line is a rapid transit corridor that will provide a fast east-west connection through Toronto. The full route is estimated to be completed by 2030.
UNITED KINGDOM—New Lewisham Housing Scheme for Young Adults with Autism
Euan O’Byrne Mulligan, Daily Shopper, June 8, 2021
The Borough of Lewisham, in South London, recently opened a new four apartment housing development tailored for young adults with autism. The units were designed to minimize noise, increase light, and maximize privacy to meet tenants’ needs. The complex is within walking distance of Forest Hill Station, served by the London Overground and National Rail.