New York City subway (top left); Rendering of 281-289 Broadway, Bayonne, NJ (bottom left); Stadium Yards, Edmonton, AB (right)
Article of the Week
How Do We Rebuild Trust In Transport?
Fast Company, October 19, 2020
Now seven months into the global pandemic, subway ridership numbers in the U.S. are 36 percent lower than last year’s levels. Despite evidence pointing to the contrary, fears surrounding contagion continue to affect ridership. Rebuilding trust in transit systems is crucial to ensure the sustainable survival of cities. Experts such as Johannes Emmelheinz, CEO of Siemens mobility customer services, emphasize the importance of accurate data prediction as a potential way forward. The idea is to keep abreast of the latest passenger numbers in subway cars, buses, and platforms to control these numbers and, thereby, curtail the fear of crowds that haunts customers. To be effective, efforts should be complemented by sanitization efforts, upgraded air-filtration systems, and contactless payment systems. This approach points to the crucial role that digitization and data analysis will play in enabling transit systems to better adapt to the demands of a post-pandemic world.
COVID-19 TOD News
NJ Transit: Scan Your Own Bus Tickets to Avoid Contact with Driver
Jen Ursillo, New Jersey 101.5, October 20, 2020
In a bid to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 onboard NJ TRANSIT buses, the agency has started installing onboard ticket validators on its fleet of buses. The idea is to limit customer touchpoints and to eliminate the hand-off of paper tickets between customers and bus operators. This move comes as part of the transit agency’s fare modernization efforts, which include upgrades to the fare payment system and acceptance of supplementary fare mediums. The installation process started on buses operating out of the Oradell garage and will be implemented on vehicles housed in other garages in the coming months.
MASSACHUSETTS—MBTA Is Changing Its Forecast and Expects Fewer Riders Next Year
Adam Vaccaro, Boston Globe, October 19, 2020
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) plans to lower its fare revenue forecast for 2021 amidst growing fears that ridership numbers will not return to normal levels next year. The MBTA may also have to resort to service cuts to cover this financial deficit—an approach that Somerville Mayor Joseph Cartatone described as an inequitable and unjust procedure for economic recovery. In a bid to avoid service cuts affecting those who rely on transit as an essential service, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh urged MBTA to join other transit agencies in pushing for federal funds. Other transportation, environmental, labor, business, and interest groups are advocating for a more local solution—such as increasing fees on rideshare services—to raise additional funds for the MBTA. In addition to service cuts, MBTA plans to shift funds allocated to long-term projects to daily operations to mitigate the shortfall.
NEW YORK—New York City Rides Out an Unprecedented Transit Crisis
Renita Young, Bloomberg CityLab, October 19, 2020
In 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the city’s subway system and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)—years before the pandemic added to the transit agency’s current challenges. Young traces the MTA’s struggles through the pandemic and explores the connection between mass transit and racial equity in the nation. Through a series of six podcast episodes, Young, along with other speakers, discusses the MTA’s contribution to the city and its residents. The talks touch upon crucial topics, such as the role that transit plays in ensuring connectivity for people of color and other vulnerable communities who rely heavily on public transit to get to their places of work, as well as ways that the MTA can attempt to recover from this latest financial hit.
It’s Time to Rethink How We Build Cities
Colin McFarlane, Fast Company, June 8, 2020
In this thoughtful analysis from early summer, Durham University urban geography professor Colin McFarlane explores patterns of development and the impact of the pandemic. Looking at cities in the U.S. and throughout the world, he draws distinctions between high density places that maximize face-to-face interactions and livability (which are often newly built) and those where density, household overcrowding, and poverty have resulted in what author and urbanist Jay Pitter calls “forgotten densities,” and which have experienced grossly disproportionate impacts of the pandemic. Ultimately, the difference lies not in density, but in the imbalance between good quality urban provisions (housing, services, infrastructure, etc.), which reflect political choices and historical class, racial, and gender inequalities.
NJ TOD News
NJ Transit Passes $2.6 Billion Budget that Leans on CARES Act Funds
Colleen Wilson, NorthJersey.com, October 22, 2020
With an influx of $955 million in CARES Act funds, NJ TRANSIT plans to increase its budget by 10 percent for the coming year, despite anticipated revenue losses. A new revenue stream from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority could further offset budget holes. Some noteworthy items in this year’s budget include an anticipated addition of 408 jobs at the agency and more than $1.4 billion in capital improvement projects as part of the five-year capital plan passed on Wednesday.
These Changes Will Help Cinnaminson Move Affordable Housing Plan
Anthony Bellano, Patch News, October 21, 2020
Cinnaminson’s Township Committee recently approved two modifications to its Inclusionary Residential District Zoning. First, the ordinance would see a change in the minimal size of three-bedroom units from 1,125 to 1,000 sq. ft. This change would make the zoning consistent with the overlay zones adopted as part of the Township’s Affordable Housing Third Round Compliance. The proposal would also change buffer area requirements to 20 feet wide in the Inclusionary Residential District. Affordable housing obligations are met in rounds—Cinnaminson is in its third round of obligations and will need to build 30 units to meet its requirements. Inclusionary Housing will be used to meet most of these needs, including a Light Rail Line Overlay zone that includes parcels that could be assembled for “a mixed use transit village.”
Developer to Propose Massive 860-Unit Complex Near Jersey City’s West Side Avenue Station
Jared Kofsky, Jersey Digs, October 20, 2020
West Side Station LLC is planning a new mixed-use development project in Jersey City opposite the West Side Avenue terminus of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (HBLR). The project would add: 860 new residential units; office, retail, and school uses; and parking spaces to the city’s West Side. NJ TRANSIT currently owns the site. In an interview with Jersey Digs, agency spokesperson Lisa Torbic emphasized the importance of the parcels at the West Side Avenue HBLR station in contributing to the future redevelopment and expansion of the station and its surrounding areas and in furthering NJ TRANSIT’s transportation mission and dedication to improving the economy and quality of life in the community.
Proposed Mixed-Use Development Coming to 281-289 Broadway in Bayonne, New Jersey
Vanessa Londono, New York Yimby, October 20, 2020
Bayonne Equities BII Urban Renewal, LLC has proposed to build a mixed-use development on Broadway and West 12th Street in Bayonne. Designed by Melamed Architect, the ten-story project will include new residential units, retail space, and parking spaces, along with other amenities for residents. The site is within walking distance of the 8th Street stop on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and currently comprises a parking lot and two low-rise buildings with residential units. The developers are seeking preliminary and final site plan approvals. A construction timeline for the project is yet to be announced.
Regional and National TOD News
NEW YORK—Roslyn Trustees OK Rezoning for Warner Avenue
Rose Weldon, The Island Now, October 21, 2020
The Board of Trustees of the Village of Roslyn approved the rezoning of Warner Avenue to a transit-oriented mixed-use district. The site currently comprises a strip mall of empty storefronts and was originally zoned for commercial use only. J.K. Equities, headed by a Roslyn resident, asked for the change of zoning to allow retail and residential uses. The rezoning would allow for the redevelopment of the site to take advantage of its proximity to the Long Island Railroad’s Roslyn Station. Permitted uses on the rezoned area include, but are not limited to, residential apartments, retail and food establishments, financial institutions, insurance agencies, and real estate offices.
OREGON—Metro’s Growing Production of Affordable Homes
Metro News, October 21, 2020
Since its inception in the 1970s, the greater Portland regional government, Metro, has worked to tackle the housing crisis. That effort expanded in 2000 when the organization became directly involved in the creation of affordable housing. Since that time, Metro has helped to fund over 230 affordable homes through its transit-oriented development program. In 2020, it will have used its TOD funds to support the construction of more than 600 housing units. Projects include Argyle Gardens near the Kenton/ N Denver MAX station in North Portland and Willow Creek Crossing Apartments within walking distance of Willow Creek MAX station in Hillsboro. Patrick McLaughlin, Senior Development Project Manager for Housing and Transit-Oriented Development at Metro, stresses that housing and access to transit are deeply interconnected and justifies the organization’s decision to provide funds to transit-supportive affordable housing projects that need financial help.
ILLINOIS—Chicago Hopes to Center Equity in Its Transit-Oriented Development
Jared Brey, NextCity, October 20, 2020
ETOD, or Equitable Transit-Oriented Development, is the need of the hour in the world of TOD, and Elevated Chicago, an advocacy and policy organization is working to promote this approach in the City of Chicago. In this article, Roberto Requejo, the group’s program director, touches upon the adverse effects of gentrification and displacement that disproportionately impact minority communities and communities of color. Chicago passed its first TOD ordinance in 2013. However, according to a recent report, 90 percent of new TOD projects have occurred in majority-white neighborhoods while eligible communities of color are not seeing as much investment. The report includes a plan to reorient the city’s TOD ordinance and recommends hiring a full-time ETOD Development Manager, establishing a framework for evaluating the impact of the ETOD policy plan, and publishing annual reports on its outcomes.
ILLINOIS—Cook County Starts Pilot Project to Improve Transit Accessibility in South Suburbs
Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicles, October 17, 2020
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced a three-year pilot project, Fair Transit South Cook, to improve transit service and ensure lower Metra fares for Chicago’s south side and south suburban Cook County residents. The goal of the program is to ensure equity in Chicago’s transportation system by increasing service and decreasing costs for the community’s more underserved residents. The project plans to achieve this by establishing 50 percent reduced fares on the Metra Electric and Rock Island lines and assessing the rates as the pilot progresses. These efforts will be complemented by an expansion of Pace’s 352 Halsted Service to improve hours and frequency of service. Cook County is funding the revenue offsets and operational improvements with the help of a $330,000 Accelerating Innovative Mobility (AIM) grant from the Federal Transit Administration. The grant will also fund community outreach surveys, pop-up events, and virtual input opportunities that will target existing and potential riders.
International TOD News
MALAYSIA—MBSA Rezoning Plan Set to Strengthen i-City’s Status as Selangor Golden Triangle
Metro News, October 23, 2020
Taking inspiration from California’s Silicon Valley, Malaysia’s Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) has announced a rezoning plan for Kuala Lumpur’s i-City Selangor Golden Triangle (SGT) area. The latest announcement enlarges the existing area by including the adjoining Bukit Raja Selatan Industrial Park and Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) to add an education center with medical, commercial, and recreational hubs to the area. Malaysians have reacted positively to this announcement and are confident about the socioeconomic benefits of this plan. The success of this project is largely attributed to its connectivity to highways that link it to seaports and airports. The development’s connectivity will be further enhanced with the launch of the light rail transit’s (LRT) line 3 service.
CANADA—Stadium Yards Development Celebrates Grand Opening Ahead off January Rental Kickoff
Lauren Boothby, Edmonton Journal, October 17, 2020
The City of Edmonton will soon inaugurate a new transit-oriented housing and commercial development near the Stadium LRT station. The new project, Stadium Yards, will add residential units and a restaurant to the city by turn of the year. The project’s proximity to the LRT station will encourage a car-free lifestyle and offer residents a variety of transportation options as well as places to connect with the community. As part of the project, the developers are upgrading Stadium Station with new sidewalks, multi-use paths, and a new LRT crossing to improve access for transit riders and pedestrians. The City of Edmonton and the provincial government funded this project.