MBTA’s bus garage update frees up ~7 acres for TOD (left); Hoboken & Vision Zero; With record ridership, NC looks to expand rail; Mobility budgets (top-to-bottom right)
Article of the Week
MASSACHUSETTS—Revised Arborway Bus Plan Would Make Room for Hundreds of New Transit-Oriented Homes
Christian MilNeil, Streetblogs, November 21 2023
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) plans to replace the Arborway bus garage and, in doing so, allocate at least 6.8 acres for use as transit-oriented development near the Forest Hills Station. Plans call for least 744 homes—with half designated as affordable housing for lower-income families, a smaller multi-story repair facility, and shared employee parking. Construction is slated to begin in 2026. The new garage will service 200 battery-electric buses by 2029, and help the agency meet a state mandate for zero-emission buses.
NEWARK—Despite Controversy, Newark Approves 2,100-Unit Plan at IDT Properties
Chris Fry, Jersey Digs, November 22 2023
The Newark Central Planning Board has unanimously approved a redevelopment plan for 516-532 Broad Street. The project, led by Sinai Equity Group and designed by Architectura8, would transform the former IDT office property into a four-tower complex comprising 2,184 housing units (of which 20% are to be affordable), five stories of retail space, a restaurant on the top floor, and 1,126 parking spaces. The four buildings would create a “city within a city” on the blocks surrounding the Atlantic Street Station on the Newark Light Rail but faces criticism due to the lack of pedestrian accessibility.
HOBOKEN—The New Jersey Mayor With a Plan to End Traffic Deaths
Sarah Holder, Bloomberg, November 20 2023
In 2019, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla signed an executive order committing the city to Vision Zero, a global campaign dedicated to eliminating traffic deaths entirely. Actions taken to advance this effort have included significantly lowered city-wide speed limits, repaved crosswalks, expanded bicycle infrastructure, and collaboration with Citi Bike, which began operations in the city in 2021. This summer, the bike sharing company recorded more than 850,000 trips. Today, nearly half of Hoboken’s roads include bike lanes, a change that has contributed to a 41 percent drop in injuries. Since January 2017, no traffic deaths have been reported.
RHODE ISLAND—How RI’s State Housing Agency Plans to Build More Housing in 2024
Patrick Anderson, The Providence Journal, November 24 2023
The Rhode Island Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD), the state’s new housing agency, has requested a budget of $124 million for next year. The agency, charged with expanding housing affordability and ending homelessness, also seeks a $100-million housing bond and a new tax on short-term vacation rentals to support development. Additionally Housing Secretary Stefan Pryor seeks support for three more tax increment financing development districts., including “Super TIF” districts to foster high-density and mixed-use development around transit hubs.
NEW YORK—Habitat Receives Approval for $400 Million Affordable Housing Redevelopment
Building Design + Construction, November 16 2023
The developer, Habitat, has received Planned Unit Development (PUD) approval from the Buffalo Common Council for its $400 million redevelopment of Marine Drive Apartments. The project aims to create one of the largest affordable housing developments in Buffalo’s history, featuring approximately 700 apartment units in multiple buildings. The first phase of the redevelopment, expected to break ground in late 2024 and be completed by 2029, will include a 300,000-sq.-ft. complex comprising low-, mid-, and high-rise buildings, a parking garage, commercial space, and convenient access to the Erie Canal Harbor Metro Rail station.
WISCONSIN—Madison Bus Rapid Transit Required $50M in Local Money After Grants
Allison Garfield, The Cap Times, November 24 2023
The City of Madison has received a $110.6 million federal grant to support construction of a bus rapid transit (BRT) system. Funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will cover about 74 percent of $194.25 million project and Madison will contribute about $50 million through its capital improvement budget and tax incremental. The BRT project will begin service on a route between East Towne and West Towne malls in fall 2024 and utilize 46 electric buses.
NORTH CAROLINA—With Record Ridership, North Carolina Looks to Expand Passenger Rail System
Richard Stradling, The News & Observer, November 18 2023
Governor Roy Cooper and leaders from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) highlighted the state’s growing passenger rail system, emphasizing their ambitions for expansion. NCDOT passenger trains, operated by Amtrak, broke ridership records for the year ending on September 30th, when more than 1,178,000 people boarded trains or a 34 percent increase over the previous year. Additionally, NCDOT seeks $1.2 billion in federal funding to begin construction of the S-Line extension, a former freight line to be converted to passenger service.
MICHIGAN—Detroit Mobility and Innovation Corridor
Center for American Progress, November 16 2023
In 2024, construction will begin on Michigan Avenue in Detroit. The revitalization project, funded by a $25 million Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), seeks to improve safety for pedestrians, bus riders, bikers, and drivers along the 1.9-mile multimodal corridor. The project will feature dedicated transit lanes and autonomous vehicle lanes as well as improved pedestrian crossings and delivery vehicle parking. As many as 5,000 employees are expected to work in the neighborhood as the Ford Motor Company plans to move into the recently renovated Michigan Central Station building.
CHINA—Why High-Speed Train Is Really the Transport of Choice in China
Bloomberg, November 21 2023
Between July and August, riders made more than 830 million trips on the high-speed rail network in China, a 13 percent increase from pre-COVID levels. High-speed trains, traveling at speeds of 320 kph (~199 mph), offer a quick, easy, and affordable alternative to air travel. China plans to expand its rail network and invest$100 billion in 2022 to achieve its goal of building 50,000 km (~31,069 mi) of high-speed rail and a total of 165,000 km (~102,526 mi) of railway lines by 2025.
CANADA—Parking Minimums Eliminated for New Developments in West End and Broadway Plan Areas
City of Vancouver, November 15 2023
The City Council of Vancouver has unanimously approved the elimination of parking minimum requirements for new developments in the West End and Broadway Plan areas, to be effective in 2024. The move aims to lower barriers for financially constrained development, create dense and walkable neighborhoods, and promote climate action goals. Accessible spots for people with disabilities and bike parking will still be required.
How Mobility Budgets Can Change the Future of Transportation
Kersten Heineke, Benedikt Kloss, Jianan Li & Felix Rupalla, McKinsey & Company, October 31 2023
Mobility budgets offer employees a monthly allowance to cover everyday travel costs, regardless of mode. To encourage the use of public transportation and to counter high rates of private-vehicle ownership that contribute to traffic congestion, emissions, and time-loss, many European governments, including those in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Poland, actively support the use mobility budgets through policies like tax exemptions. Mobility budgets also serve as an attractive employee benefit, helping to attract talent and contributing to higher retention rates.