Newark amends land use ordinance (left); Will ZEVs be green enough for Norway? (top-right); San Francisco launches new affordable TOD (middle-right); A vision for New York Penn Station (bottom-right)
Article of the Week
NEWARK—Build More on Less Land? Newark Zoning Proposal Angers City Residents
Steve Strunsky, nj.com, October 4 2023
Amidst a hot real estate market, the Newark City Council has granted preliminary approval for amendments to its land use ordinance. Aiming to promote construction to address population growth and rising demand for affordable housing, the changes will encourage mixed-use development, land use diversification, and increased building heights. Newark, a NJDOT Transit Village designated for the bus facilities at the intersection of Broad and Market Streets, seeks to advance efforts towards transit-oriented development.
TRENTON—New On-Demand Shuttle Services Are Popping Up in NJ. What’s Microtransit All About?
Colleen Wilson, northjersey.com, October 2 2023
New shuttle service for transit dependent riders in Trenton will soon expand its routes throughout the state. As of September, a new microtransit pilot project called GOTrenton! provides residents with on-demand shuttles through the app Circuit. NJDEP provided a $883,000 grant to fund the pilot’s initial phase, which uses battery-powered shuttles and a van for individuals with disabilities, offering rides for just $2 each. If successful, the program may expand to areas such as Newark, Paterson, and other regions with limited public transportation. Rather than replacing public transit, experts believe microtransit can supplement existing services while offering first-mile-last-mile solutions.
EMERSON—Citizen Emerson Station, 147-unit Community, to Deliver Amenity-Rich Living to Bergen County
Linda Lindner, ROI-NJ, September 29, 2023
Downtown Emerson will soon be home to a new mixed-use development, less than a quarter-mile from Emerson Station, on the Pascack Valley Line. Set to open this fall, Citizen Emerson Station will offer studio, one-and two-bedroom units and house over 18,000 sq. ft. of ground floor retail. The 147-unit rental community will also offer a coworking space for remote workers.
Climate Friendly Public Health Policies Make Economic Sense
Elizabeth Robinson, The BMJ, October 4 2023
New research from the Grantham Research Institute has identified four areas of overlap between public health and urban planning: reducing air pollution, healthier diets, active lifestyles, and “greening” landscapes. Robinson, director of the Institute, finds that higher public transit use correlates with reduced road traffic crashes and increased mental well-being. Consequently, public transit and transit-oriented development lower healthcare costs. In 2013, physical inactivity burdened healthcare systems worldwide with a cost exceeding $50 billion, further demonstrating the need for promoting active transportation solutions and high-quality public transit.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Activists Fighting Environmental Racism Are Calling for a “Clean Air Revolution” in Black Communities
Kyle Collier, Tech Tonics, October 3 2023
Combating the racist history of redlining and highway planning, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Annual Legislative Weekend focused attention on the impact of adverse transportation policies in Black communities. These impacts are acutely felt in Washington, D.C., where residents of the wards 5, 7, and 8 experience asthma and other health-related issues at a greater rate than the city overall due to the siting of highway and other transportation projects. The panel discussion emphasized the need for policy changes, focusing on data-driven interventions.
CALIFORNIA—City Celebrates the Grand Opening of New 100% Affordable Housing Project Adjacent to Balboa Park BART Station
Press Release, The City of San Francisco, September 28 2023
San Francisco marked the opening of Kapuso at the Upper Yard, a 100 percent affordable transit-oriented housing development. Located at 2340 San Jose Avenue on city-owned land, the development repurposed a parking lot to create 131 new homes, including 39 public housing units under California Senate Bill 35. This same bill in San Francisco, has approved more than 2,600 affordable units.
Public Transport Could Save Americans $13,000 per Year
Christopher Carey, Cities Today, October 4 2023
A new study shows that on average, drivers who switch to using public transit could save up to $1,100 per month or $13,000 annually. According to a new report from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) using the “Transit Savings Index,” public transit fares have remained stable since 2020, yet driving costs have substantially increased over the same time. Since 2019, the price of used cars has witnessed a 40 percent increase. When ranking the top 20 cities by ridership, APTA found that San Francisco drivers would benefit the most by saving an average of $16,000 annually.
NEW YORK—Nonprofit Presents Vision for the Future of Penn Station
Nia Clark, Spectrum News, September 28 2023
Among ongoing discussions to redesign Penn Station, the nonprofit ReThinkNYC has proposed its own vision with a 3-D model. The group’s main concerns lie in expanding capacity during peak travel, while creating more space for commuters to navigate the station. Proposals from groups like ReThinkNYC stress the importance of an efficient and expanded transit hub and the integration of regional rail systems. Despite abandoning a $7 billion plan for the redesign, Governor Kathy Hochul has committed $1.3 billion in state aid towards the project. Other concerns that loom over the discussion include how to manage the location of Madison Square Garden above within the station.
With Commuting Down, Cities Must Rethink Their Public Transportation Networks
Caroline George and Adie Tomer, Brookings, September 15 2023
The COVID-19 pandemic has called into question which travel behavior changes are temporary, and which may be permanent. These changes reveal that people have replaced longer commutes with shorter, more frequent trips for activities such as dining, shopping, and errands. This pattern holds true in all 109 metro areas examined, suggesting an opportunity for policymakers to build transportation networks that prioritize proximity. The findings support a neighborhood-centric approach to regional infrastructure planning focusing on shorter-distance trips.
AUSTRIA—Inside One of Europe’s Largest Urban Development Projects
Geo Week, October 3 2023
Since its inception in the early 2000s, Vienna’s aspern Seestadt has prioritized public transportation and green spaces. City leaders partnered with Wien 3420 AG in their efforts to tackle housing challenges and rapid population growth, and launched this smart urban development project on a former brownfield site. Set to be completed by 2030, the project promotes clean energy standards and prioritizes transit and active modes in its allocation of space for transportation uses: 40 percent for public transit, 40 percent for walking and cycling, and 20 percent for personal vehicles. Aspern Seestadt also makes use of a “digital twin” or electronic replica of the project that uses GIS to help simulate construction and implementation.
NORWAY—Is It Really Sustainable for Everyone to Own an Electric Car?
Zane Datava, Franziska Gehlmann and Devyn Remme, Techxplore, October 2 2023
Leading the world in the adoption of zero-emission vehicles (ZEV), Norway plans for all new cars sold in 2025 to be ZEV. The country, which holds the world’s highest market share of electric cars, first envisioned this transition in 1990, and supported the adoption of ZEVs through tax incentives and other policies. However, this shift to ZEVs is likely insufficient to transition the country fully to green mobility. For example, as Norwegians have opted for larger electric vehicles, demand for unsustainable resources for production and operation has increased, and such vehicles command space on roadways. Meanwhile, government support for biking and public transportation has diminished.