Rising fuel prices spur transit usage (top left); Why the U.S. needs more TOD housing (bottom left); Better bus service in South Jersey (right)
Article of the Week
Transit-Oriented Development Catches on as Cities Need to Boost Ridership and Housing Supply
Adina Solomon, Smart Cities Dive, April 1, 2022
With the decline in transit ridership and a sharp rise in housing prices across the country, cities and transit agencies are turning to mixed-use development near bus and rail facilities. In Seattle, Sound Transit will sell 33,500 sq. ft. of land left unused during the building of Angle Lake Station. The land will be sold below market value to a nonprofit to build affordable housing and ground-floor commercial or office spaces. Similarly, in Atlanta, MARTA is accepting proposals to develop near the Bankhead Station, a neighborhood facing the threat of gentrification. Development of the 235,000 sq. ft. of land near the station would be an opportunity to enhance revenue and increase the supply of housing. If a forthcoming project includes housing, 30 percent of that housing must be affordable.
VIRGINIA—As The Pandemic Eases, Officials Want to Get More Virginians Back on Public Transit
Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury, March 29, 2022
Officials are working to increase ridership on public transit in Virginia, which is about 80 percent below pre-pandemic levels. The State will launch a new PR campaign called “Rediscover Your Ride,” funded by a $247,500 COVID-19 grant from the Federal Transit Administration, to bolster confidence in public transit. The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) released a 68-page recovery handbook on how transit agencies can helm “the greatest challenges faced by transit systems in several decades.” The handbook noted that 33 of the State’s 42 public transportation providers had dropped fares by March 2020 and that the crisis was an “unplanned opportunity to pilot zero-fare transit.”
Rising Petrol Prices Drive Americans on to Public Transport
Amanda Chu, New York Press News/Financial Times, March 28, 2022
Several transit agencies have reported an increase in ridership in recent weeks. In addition to the decline of the Omicron Coronavirus variant, transit executives point to the spike in gas prices as the reason behind some passengers returning to public transit. In the week ending March 18, San Diego reported an increase in transit ridership of 8 percent since February and 26 percent since January, a period when gas prices averaged $5.98 per gallon, among the highest in the nation. Similarly, New York City averaged 3.2 million subway trips, 6 percent higher than a month ago and 35 percent higher than in January. Based on research conducted by Bradley Lane at the University of Texas, for every 10 percent increase in the price of fuel, rail ridership increased by 8 percent and bus usage increased by 4 percent. According to Sharon Cooney, Chief Executive of the San Diego transit system, the recent ridership spikes prove that people are motivated to reduce costs and still view transit as a safe and affordable way to get around.
PHILADELPHIA—Better South Jersey Bus Service Needed for Philly Commute, and in Rural Areas, Riders Tell NJ Transit
Larry Higgs, NJ.com, March 31, 2022
NJ TRANSIT held two virtual sessions for the public to provide input on the recently launched New Bus Burlington, Camden, Gloucester (New Bus BCG) initiative. This is the agency’s second effort to redesign bus routes in the State. The first redesign was for Newark in 2021 and the results are expected to be released this spring. The consensus among those speaking at the New Bus BCG hearings was a desire for more frequent bus service, at most 30 minutes between departures, to the greater Camden and Philadelphia areas.
SOMERVILLE—Somerville Takes the First Step in South Bridge Street Redevelopment. Here’s What’s Coming
Mike Deak, My Central Jersey, March 28, 2022
The Planning Board of Somerville approved a proposal to construct a five-story apartment building with 58 dwelling units on South Bridge Street, less than a quarter-mile from the Somerville Rail Station. After the first plan for an apartment building at 23-37 S. Bridge St was rejected last year, Somerville Multi Family LLC submitted a revised scale-down plan that considers the board’s concerns. With the number of units reduced from 60 to 58 and the number of parking spaces increased from 75 to 91, the plan also comprises 770 sq. ft. of retail/café space on the ground level fronting South Bridge Street. The bid calls for the demolition of the four structures in the block south of Main Street and is in accordance with the Borough’s plan to redevelop South Bridge Street.
NEWARK—Airport City Newark Coalition Awarded Fourth Round of Funding
Vesna Veljasevic Dimitrijevic, NJIT, March 23, 2022
The Airport City Newark (ACN) led by the members of the Hillier College of Architecture and Design received a fourth round of funding from the Prudential Foundation to further explore the feasibility of their Aerotropolis concept, a transit-oriented development centered around the Newark International Airport. The ACN coalition will organize four community benefits meetings to facilitate direct feedback from the community about their needs in terms of affordability, neighborhood amenities, and housing. The proposed plan would repurpose 150 acres, and add 10,000-12,000 new jobs and 5,000-6,000 new residential units for 6,000-8,000 new residents. The ACN has two goals, the first being to expand the AirTrain to make the station in the Newark South Ward accessible to the community. The second is to redevelop the Newark Liberty International Airport with welcoming design that opens directly to the Weequahic and Dayton neighborhoods.
Here’s Why the U.S. Needs More ‘TOD’ Housing
Robert Cassidy, BDC Network, March 29, 2022
The traditional metric of housing affordability holds that housing should cost no more than 30 percent of a family’s income. In that case, approximately 55 percent of U.S. neighborhoods would meet the standards of affordability for the average household. However, according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a nonprofit research group based in Chicago, the neighborhoods that the typical family can afford falls to 26 percent when the cost of transportation is factored in. Consequently, their housing costs could be 30 percent or less of their total income but commuting costs can make their daily living costs unaffordable. Transit-oriented developments solve this problem by placing housing near transit stations and routes, helping lower-income residents reduce their commute costs, subsequently bringing their housing and transportation budgets closer to the traditional affordability benchmark.
Roadblocks to Transportation Access
Anya Breitenbach, NREL, March 24, 2022
The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) researchers review a litany of conditions faced by those underserved by public transportation. Due to discriminatory practices, underserved urban residents have fewer and less-safe transportation options and face hardships in conducting activities essential for daily life, making it impossible to climb the economic ladder. American families on average spend 16 percent of their income on transportation, which can be burdensome for low-income households. In some cities, the average Black worker takes 25 percent more time to reach job sites than the typical white resident. Additionally, underserved communities face health and safety hazards, such as disproportionate exposure to pollution, congestion, and bicycle and pedestrian crashes. NREL researchers are working with marginalized communities to break down these mobility barriers and extend the advantages of energy-efficient transportation.
How Data Helps Create Transportation Equity For Vulnerable Communities
Silicon Angle, The Cube, March 8, 2022
With equity analysis as the basis of all project assessments, data is emerging as the tool needed to prioritize the needs of vulnerable communities. Tierra Bills, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Public Policy at UCLA, believes in leveraging data to draw a connection between travel demand, modeling, and equity. According to Bills, travel demand modeling helps understand and advance transportation equity by catering to changes in travel patterns, population, and environment. Bills believes emerging data triggers behavior change because it identifies the constraints people have, leading to better outcomes.
NEW YORK—As Part of the “Reimagine Transit Project,” Suffolk County Executive Bellone Announces Upcoming Public Meeting and Bus Transit Survey
Chris Boyle, Long Island, March 31, 2022
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced that the County will host a public information meeting for the next round of updates and input on the Reimagine Transit Initiative. Reimagine Transit is an initiative to reexamine the entire network of Suffolk County Transit bus routes to guarantee that the County is optimizing its resources and aligning its investments with community goals and priorities. In addition, the County has launched a transit survey to obtain feedback on the proposed new bus network. Previously, two virtual public meetings and a public survey were conducted to share progress on the Reimagine Transit Initiative and gather feedback from transit riders, residents, and other stakeholders.
NEW YORK—Revised Apartment Plan Examined in Port Chester
Peter Katz, Westchester and Fairfield County, March 28, 2022
The village of Port Chester is considering the revised proposal for the redevelopment of eight parcels that currently have 11 mixed-use one- to three-story buildings on Broad Street in the downtown region. The developer, Broad Street Owner LLC, seeks to develop a new 15-story, mixed-use building with 336 residential units, 10 percent of which will be considered affordable. The proposal comprises 98 studio apartments, 168 one-bedroom units, and 70 two-bedroom units as well as 10,370 sq. ft. of ground-floor retail space. The site is located directly across from the Metro-North train station.
PENNSYLVANIA—Manheim Twp. Commissioners Approve 96 Apartments at Former Lancaster Malleable Site
Tom Lisi, Lancaster online, March 28, 2022
Manheim Township’s Board of Commissioners approved a 96-unit apartment development plan at 1036 Manheim Pike, north of the Lancaster city boundary line. The property will be developed by Lancaster-based real estate group Deerin Co. on a vacant plot close to the nearby Amtrak station. The proposal includes four three-story apartment buildings and a community space on the 4.6-acre site. According to Swiernik, the project manager, a pedestrian walkway could be constructed under the North Prince Street bridge to connect residents to the Amtrak station.
UTAH—Plans for Mixed-Use Development at Ogden’s Frontrunner Station Chugging Along
Deborah Wilber, Standard Examiner, March 26, 2022
The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) is finalizing the master plan for a compact, mixed-use transit-oriented development near Ogden’s Frontrunner station. The development at Union Station will be Ogden’s first TOD project and according to Ogden City Deputy Director of Community and Economic Development, Brandon Cooper, the plans for TOD at the Union Station campus are 70 percent complete. According to UTA, developments near high-capacity transit stations decrease traffic congestion, improve air quality, and serve as an economic engine for their communities by generating streets, pathways, buildings, open spaces, and other aspects of the environment. In collaboration with UTA, the City hopes to implement modern-day transportation networks by providing community-driven bus and commuter rail networks.
CANADA—Vancouver City Council Approves UBC SkyTrain Route with Jericho Lands Station
Kenneth Chan, Urbanized, March 29, 2022
The Vancouver City Council has extended its support for the UBC SkyTrain expansion, approving a potential route which allows for the development of the Jericho Lands Station. In October 2021, a draft concept was unveiled for the redevelopment of the former military base in West Point Grey. It comprises 10 million sq. ft. of floor area, including 9,000 homes for up to 18,000 people, and about one million sq. ft. of office, retail, restaurant, and institution space. Proponents envision a SkyTrain station in the northwest quadrant of the sloped site where significant office and cultural spaces are proposed. The City Council also approved the city staff’s recommendations to plan for station integration through transit-oriented development and amendments to adjust development cost expectation charges on the corridor. The City Council requested city staff explore ways to limit land speculation, protect existing rental housing, and consider the environment in the construction process.
PAKISTAN—Draft Master Plan of Lahore Division-2050: 3.6m of 12.6m Additional Population to Stay Out of City District
Khalid Hasnain, Dawn, March 29, 2022
The Lahore District is preparing its Draft Master Plan-2050 to accommodate increasing population, projected to be 12.6 million over the next 28 years. The Plan proposes a uniform distribution of infrastructure and services to improve access for all residents and to reduce travel time and congestion. The Plan identifies areas with low-population density and proposes mixed-use development and densification of these regions to improve quality of life. It proposes a buffer zone of 500 meters adjacent to main roads and existing buildings, such as institutional, social facilities, graveyards, and parks within which commercial, business and apartment buildings are permitted.