Planning for new light rail service in Seattle’s Roosevelt neighborhood (left), Regional planning for transit equity in the DC region (top right); Burgeoning development in Newark, NJ (bottom right)
Transit Agencies Lease Real Estate to Generate Much-Needed Cash
Jenni Bergal, Pew Charitable Trusts, September 30, 2021
Spurred by the pandemic, transit agencies are increasingly seeking alternate revenue streams and looking toward station-area development in earnest to augment revenues. Agencies understand that TOD may help to recoup their operations and maintenance costs, as federal aid is typically restricted to capital projects. Atlanta’s MARTA established its dedicated transit-oriented development office a decade ago, and with increased attention now has 17 existing ground leases, totaling nearly 2,000 housing units. The Bay Area’s Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority hopes to bring in $300 million in revenue from development projects by 2040.
NEW YORK—8 or 9 Ways to Fix New York’s Traffic Hell Right Now
Gina Bellafante, The New York Times, October 1, 2021
With traffic levels in New York City having returned, or exceeded pre-pandemic levels, a columnist shares advice from transit and active transportation advocates about how to improve mobility in the city. First and foremost, according to former New York City traffic commissioner Sam Schwartz, is to dispel the myth that public transportation is unsafe—the consultant points out that numerous studies have concluded that transit is not a vector for the virus. Other suggestions include making improvements to the City’s bus system, expanding pedestrian and bicycle lanes, and expanding pedal-assisted bike-sharing systems to transit deserts—all of which would provide a variety of multi-modal options to shift drivers out of their cars.
People Are Walking More Than Ever as Mobility Climbs
Lynn Pollack, GlobeSt.com, September 27, 2021
A Commercial Café report found that walking has outpaced driving for the greatest increase in mobility since January 2020. The analysis of smartphone search data saw nearly twice as many searches for walking directions than driving in every U.S. region. Transit searches, however, while steadily increasing, lacked the explosive growth of other mode choices.
DUNELLEN—Long-Awaited Dunellen Transit Village Will ‘Catapult’ Borough into The Future, Mayor Says
Mike Deak, My Central Jersey, September 29, 2021
An official groundbreaking was held for a new transit-oriented development adjacent to Dunellen’s NJ TRANSIT station. The project will comprise 194 market rate units, 58 low and moderate income apartments, and 150 townhomes. “This will spark a renaissance for Dunellen,” the borough’s mayor said. In 2012, Dunellen received a designation as a New Jersey Transit Village from the NJ Department of Transportation Transit Village Initiative.
NEWARK—A Newark Day: Inside the Brick City’s Burgeoning Development Boom
Rebecca Baird-Emba, Commercial Observer, September 28, 2021
Newark is growing—gaining both population and new housing across the city. According to the article, a throughline for many developers is the City’s excellent transportation network, its many transit lines, and airport, all of which serve to catalyze growth. As Newark continues to recover from the economic effects of the pandemic, many developers, including Siree Morris, who has several ongoing projects in the city, expect an even bigger wave of growth.
JERSEY CITY—With Redevelopment Looming, Bed, Bath & Beyond Set to Close Jersey City Location
Chris Fry, Jersey Digs, September 24, 2021
A Jersey City big box retailer is closing in anticipation of a two-tower development in Metro Plaza. Eventually, all of the current retailers will close for the residential development, which would be within a short walk of NJ TRANSIT’s Harsimus Cove Station on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail.
RUTHERFORD—New Luxury Rental Building Approved in Downtown Rutherford
Amie Johnstone, Jersey Digs, September 23, 2021
Vango Development received approval for the second phase of the Parker, a four-story building comprising 60 luxury units. The project is located within close walking distance of Rutherford’s NJ TRANSIT station, on the Bergen County Line. In 1999, the NJ Department of Transportation designated Rutherford as a New Jersey Transit Village.
PENNSYLVANIA—Philly Passes Bill That Aims to Encourage Affordable Housing in Desirable Neighborhoods
Aaron Moselle, WHYY, September 30, 2021
The Philadelphia City Council approved a bill that grants density bonuses to developers who include affordable housing in projects or contribute to the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The City’s Mixed-Income Housing Bonus applies to developers with projects comprising ten units or more. In certain zoning districts, developers who elect to contribute to the fund will be ineligible for height or density bonuses, which, Philadelphia hopes, will encourage the construction of affordable units on-site.
VIRGINIA—The Bus Should Be Free
Wyatt Gordon & Faith Walker, Next City, September 29, 2021
Two Richmond public transportation advocates argue that the bus epitomizes a public good and that, like schools or libraries, should be fully publicly subsidized. In Richmond, 89 percent of the transit systems riders have household incomes below the state median. Fare elimination for the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) would require finding an additional $4.5 million for the service—a pittance in comparison with the funds spent by local, regional, and state transportation agencies in Virginia in 2019.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA—D.C.-Area Leaders Consider Prioritizing Equity in Transportation and Land Use Planning
Katherine Shaver, The Washington Post, September 22, 2021
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments will vote on a proposal to center equity in its regional planning efforts. This action would prioritize 350 census tracts, or “equity emphasis areas,” for land use and transportation investments. Such a change would help to promote the development of affordable housing near the region’s mass transit stations and incentivize new transit infrastructure that addresses D.C.’s spatial mismatch between lower-cost housing and job centers.
NORTH CAROLINA—Split Asheville Council Passes Pedestrian, Transit-Friendly Zoning over Developer Protests
Joel Burgess, Ashville Citizen-Times, September 29, 2021
The Asheville City Council voted to approve four new “Urban Place Form” designated zones across the municipality. The new zones are intended to promote mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly infill development by awarding density bonuses to developers who include housing with their projects. Two City Council members who voted against the new districts expressed concern that such a measure would spur gentrification and create a “mandate” that commercial property owners include housing in their projects.
WASHINGTON—Roosevelt Light-Rail Station Fuels Rapid Growth in North Seattle Neighborhood
Mike Linbolm, Seattle Times, September 28, 2021
Since 2016, the Roosevelt neighborhood in Seattle has seen a 95 percent increase in its housing stock, adding 1,626 new units. Anticipation of new transit service—the extension of Seattle’s Link light rail—has spurred much of this growth. The community has been actively involved with planning of the station, the station area, and the housing and other development that would be drawn to the area. The new housing, multifamily units, reflect the existing character of the area and take the form of six or seven-story buildings.Courtesy of Omaha Metro
NEBRASKA—‘The Need is There’: City Council Approves Transit-Oriented Development Zoning at 71st & Douglas
Alexandra Stone, KETV, September 28, 2021
The Omaha City Council approved TOD rezoning for a project that would create four townhomes close to an Omaha Rapid Bus Transit (ORBT) station. The ORBT will provide the future residents with service to hospitals, a mall, downtown Omaha, and the University of Nebraska’s Omaha campus.
NEW YORK—New Westbury Parking Garage Is All About The Future
Frank Rizzo, The Westbury Times, August 21, 2021
The MTA Long Island Rail Road opened a new 683-space parking garage adjacent to Westbury’s commuter rail station. According to Westbury’s Mayor, the village was seeing about half as many annual parking permits purchased than before the pandemic. Janno Lieber, the MTA’s Acting Chairman, acknowledged that the garage’s capacity would be underutilized in the short term, but that the agency expected ridership to fully return in several years’ time.
INDONESIA—TOD to Serve as Connecting Hub for Transportation Modes: Minister
Aji Cakti and Resinta S, Antara Today, September 29, 2021
Budi Karya Sumadi, the Indonesian Minister of Transportation, spoke on efforts to promote Transit-Oriented Development to better connect transfer points in the country’s transportation system. As Indonesia continues to expand its public transportation infrastructure, it is looking to create “many TOD points in the future,” the minister said.
INDIA—New Delhi Railway Station to be Redeveloped on Par With International Airports
News 18, September 28, 2021
Indian Railways has commenced a public-private partnership to redevelop 123 of the country’s rail stations with more modern amenities. In the case of New Delhi’s railway station, the project will include transit-oriented development and feature two mixed-use 40-story towers. The New Delhi station development is being carried out in accordance with India’s National Transit Oriented Development Policy framework.