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TOD News Briefs

The Week in TOD News November 26-December 2, 2022

Perth Amboy redevelopment plans (top left); How transit projects support the middle class (top right); Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Rail Lines and reduced carbon footprint (bottom left); Hiera, a green TOD in Indonesia (bottom right)

Article of the Week

CALIFORNIA—Taxpayer Money Can Build Transit Projects and a Stronger Middle Class. L.A. Metro Shows How
Editorial Board, The Los Angeles Times, Dec 1, 2022
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is slated to include a provision that companies building its trains and buses must meet specific worker benefits. Chief among these requirements is that at least ten percent of their workforce must be “disadvantaged,” such as veterans, young people leaving foster care, or individuals on public assistance. Metro has incentivized contractors to hire from this disadvantaged category, but by making this provision mandatory, the transit agency hopes to expand access to well-paid, blue-collar employment.


Still Recovering from COVID-19, US Public Transit Tries to Get Back on Track
Kari Edison Watkins, Tech Explore, Nov 29, 2022
University of California Associate Professor Kari Watkins spoke with SciLine, describing the benefits and challenges of U.S. public transit service in a post-pandemic era. Though transit is a statistically safer, more sustainable, and affordable mode of transportation than automobile travel, Watkins notes many transit agencies are projected to run into a “fiscal cliff” due to slow ridership recovery and the depletion of pandemic era federal aid. However, these ridership lags are spread unevenly between transit modes and cities, with commuter rail services being the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.


DUNELLENDevelopers of Dunellen’s Long-Awaited Transit Village Ink First Commercial Tenants
Alexander Lewis, My Central Jersey, Dec 1, 2022
As improvements to Dunellen Station progress, an adjacent mixed-use, transit-oriented development (TOD) project—The Nell at Dunellen Station—has found its first two commercial tenants: Blue Foundry Bank and Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. Together, the two firms are expected to lease 5,595 sq. ft. at the Nell. Currently, 3,700 sq. ft. of retail space remains available. When completed, The Nell will also comprise 194 market-rate apartments, 58 affordable units, and 150 for-sale townhomes.

PERTH AMBOY—Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency Works Toward a More Vibrant, Cultural Community
Staff, Tapinto Raritan Bay, Nov 30, 2022
The Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency (PARA) has identified key transit-oriented development (TOD) projects to revitalize its waterfront urban core. One such project is the coastal “Gateway” site comprising 54 acres within walking distance of the NJ TRANSIT rail station, which PARA sees as an opportunity to encourage mixed use and affordable housing. PARA is also interested in constructing a transit village at Perth Amboy Train Station, aligning with a nearly $50 million NJ TRANSIT earmark to improve the facility.

EAST ORANGE—$500 Million Transit-Oriented Development Breaks Ground in East Orange
New Jersey Business Magazine, Nov 28, 2022
Developers and public sector stakeholders have come together this week for the groundbreaking of a $500 million East Orange TOD project, The Crossings at Brick Church Station. Located near the Brick Church rail station, which offers riders a 25-minute NJ TRANSIT train ride to Midtown Manhattan, the site will feature 820 mixed-income rental units, a pedestrian promenade and plaza, and mixed-use retail, restaurant, residential, and commercial space. State and local officials expressed enthusiasm for how the investment provides affordability, grocery access, and public transit in one project.

Transit and Equity News

MISSOURI—What Can Cities Learn from Kansas City’s Fare-Free Transit Program?
Jared Brey, Governing, Nov 29, 2022
Since its launch of the downtown streetcar service in 2016, Kansas City, MO has become the largest city in the country to offer a city-wide fare-free transit program. Funding for the service comes in part from a special Transportation Development District, with an extra sales tax and special assessment on properties within a few blocks of the line. According to Tom Gerend, executive director of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, analysis of the cost and benefits of fare collection on a small system revealed that the authority can raise more revenue without a fare than with one. Currently about three percent of Kansas City households use the system.

MARYLAND—$1.5M Federal Grant to Fund Work to Prioritize Equity on Purple Line Corridor
Maggie Haslam, Maryland Today, Nov 29, 2022
The Federal Transit Administration awarded a $1.5 million grant to support the University of Maryland’s Purple Line Corridor Coalition’s (PLCC) planning efforts to preserve small businesses and minimize gentrification. The 16-mile Purple Line corridor is expected to raise the risk of displacement and has prompted stakeholders to tackle difficult transit and housing equity challenges. The PLCC is considering how to facilitate affordable housing, rehabilitate existing housing stock, convert strip malls, and ensure equitable access to bike and pedestrian improvements.

TEXAS—Council Eyes Planning Around Future Light Rail Stations
Jonathan Lee, Austin Monitor, Nov 28, 2022
The City of Austin is deliberating on how an equitable transit oriented development (eTOD) zoning overlay near transit stations could be implemented to systemically and equitably improve access to transit and housing. Informed by an eTOD policy plan, funded in part by the Federal Transit Administration, the City Council will consider several dozen policy tools as they finalize the overlay’s mechanics. This decision-making process and the eTOD policy plan broadly denote an ambition to move beyond “the ‘do-no-harm’ approach of past planning efforts” and proactively tackle transportation and housing inequities.

Regional and National TOD News

ILLINOIS—Chicago’s Climate Superpower: How Transit-Oriented Development Can Help Address Global Warming
Richard Day, StreetsBlog Chicago, Nov 29, 2022
Researchers from University of California, Berkeley modeled estimated household greenhouse gas emissions for Chicago, IL neighborhoods and found a clear link between Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Rail Lines and reduced carbon footprint. When observed in this context, providing more households with the opportunity to live in transit-friendly locations has direct climate change implications and adds an existential directive for improving transit access. Likewise, denser housing is more energy efficient, synergizing on the efficiency gains of transit travel.

Folk Economics and the Politics of Housing
Christopher S. Elmendorf, Clayton Nall, Stan Oklobdzija, City Journal, Nov 28, 2022
A recent study by researchers at the University of California System has found that despite growing consensus across the political spectrum that restrictive zoning drives up housing costs, survey respondents did not link limited housing supply with higher rents or home prices. Respondents did, however, believe supply shocks would affect the price of cars, grain, and labor, meaning the “folk economic” understanding of housing is category-specific. The researchers also found that respondents blamed developers and landlords the most for increasing housing costs, and on average held anti-development activists the least accountable.

International TOD News

JAPANPressure Grows for Talks on Future of Japan’s Struggling Regional Railways
The Japan Times, Dec 1, 2022
Increasing demographic pressures have spurred concerns in towns served by the East Japan Railway’s (JR East) Tadami Line that service may be cut. After significant flooding took the line out of operation, local governments stepped in and now own and manage facilities such as railway tracks, in an attempt to reduce operational costs. The success of this “split-management system” with JR East could inform funding of other Japanese lines, but other modes such as bus rapid transit (BRT) are under consideration as options for providing transit access in the depopulating country.

INDONESIA—BSD City Expands with New Housing Development Hiera
The Jakarta Post, Nov 29, 2022
Adding onto the master-planned Indonesian community of Bumi Serpong Damai (BSD) City, Mitbana and Sinar Mars Land are jointly developing a 108-hectare, mixed-use, transit-oriented development (TOD) housing project. Named Hiera, after the Japanese word for “peace” or “harmony,” the housing development will incorporate green features and amenities reminiscent of Singapore and will support walking, biking, and transit for residents. The first phase of construction is expected to begin in 2023 and will be accessible to other major regional centers such as Eka Hospital, the Breeze Mall, and BSD Green Office Park.