Wednesday, July 24, 2024
TOD News Briefs

The Week in TOD News February 3-9, 2024

NJ TRANSIT will be ready for the World Cup (left); Hoboken celebrates 7 years without a traffic death; Austin TX updates policies to spur denser development near new transit; Cities adapt policies & tax breaks for affordable housing; Athens, Greece metro to grow by a third (right top-to-bottom)

Article of the Week

Courtesy of NJ TRANSIT

EAST RUTHERFORD—NJ Transit Says It Is Ready for World Cup Fans
Sophie Nieto-Munoz, New Jersey Monitor, February 7 2024
NJ TRANSIT has signaled their preparedness for the 2026 World Cup, and anticipates efficiently serving the scores of fans heading to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. Officials expressed confidence, citing improvements such as the Secaucus Meadowlands Transitway, which is expected to significantly increase capacity before the World Cup. Amid concerns over funding and infrastructure readiness, transit advocates and legislators are calling for strategic planning and investment to ensure the agency can meet the expected demand. The Transitway is set to begin service in 2025.


Edwin J. Torres | NJ Governor’s Office

CLIFTON—NJ Transit Receives $75M to Replace Ida-Damaged Facility
Matthew Fazelpoor, NJ Biz, February 7 2024
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has awarded NJ TRANSIT a $75 million grant for a new rail maintenance facility to better prepare the agency to recover from, and protect against, natural disasters. The project’s funding comes from the FTA’s $110 million Public Transportation Emergency Relief (ER) Program, which assisted 8 states in recovering from hurricane damage between 2017 to 2022. In 2022, Hurricane Ida damaged a NJ TRANSIT facility in Wood-Ridge, which led the agency to re-site the facility to Clifton. The project is currently in the design phase.

Courtesy of the City of Hoboken, NJ

HOBOKEN—Hoboken Celebrates 7 Years Without a Traffic Death
Caren Lissner, Patch, January 31 2024
Hoboken has achieved a safety milestone of seven years without a traffic-related death, owing to its comprehensive Vision Zero policy. The City’s commitment to eliminating all traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by 2030 has led to significant infrastructure changes, including the addition of multi-way stops, high-visibility crosswalks, and lower speed limits in school zones. As a result, from 2022 to 2023, injury crashes and serious injuries fell by 18 and 62 percent respectively. Upcoming projects designed to continue Hoboken’s efforts to implement and expand its Vision Zero initiatives include upgrades to Willow Avenue and the Sinatra Drive Redesign Project.

Transit and Equity News

jon_chica | Adobe Stock

NEW YORK—NYC Transit Could Be Free for Low-Income Seniors, Disabled People for $67M: Report
Stephen Nessen, Gothamist, February 8 2024
New York City’s Independent Budget Office has proposed offering free transit to more than 760,000 low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities. This initiative, budgeted at $67 million per year, would expand the Fair Fares program that currently provides half-priced MetroCards to eligible New Yorkers under 65. While transit advocates support the initiative for its potential to improve access for vulnerable populations, critics have raised concerns over the fiscal ability of the city to maintain this expansion.

misu | Adobe Stock

Desperate for Affordable Housing, Some Cities Sweeten Tax Breaks for Developers
Robbie Sequeira, New Jersey Monitor, February 6 2024
Nationwide, cities have adapted policies and updated tax break programs to address the ongoing housing crisis, balancing incentives with support for affordable options. Fort Worth, TX has eliminated developers’ ability to pay a fee in lieu of building low-income units, while Columbus, OH expanded tax breaks citywide, and Cincinnati, OH streamlined property tax exemptions for affordable projects. However, experts caution that while tax abatements can incentivize affordable housing, they may also lead to revenue loss for cities and potential displacement of low-income residents.

DuSable Bridge, Chicago, IL. Jonathan J. Castellon | Unsplash

ILLINOIS—Mayor Johnson Announces $1.3 Million in City Support for Equitable Transit-Oriented Development Projects
Chicago City Wire, February 6 2024
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson announced $1.3 million in grants for six equitable Transit-Oriented Development (eTOD) projects. These grants, part of the City’s effort to improve accessibility and community amenities, will support projects ranging from retail spaces to affordable housing, with $4 million in total costs. Funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, this announcement also includes more than 65 additional awards for various city improvements.

Regional and National TOD News

Courtesy of the Atlanta BeltLine

GEORGIA—Atlanta City Council Votes to Axe Parking Minimums Near Beltline
Josh Green, Urbanize Atlanta, February 6 2024
The Atlanta City Council has moved to eliminate parking minimums for new developments near the BeltLine, so as to foster more walkable neighborhoods. The zoning changes would also prohibit new gas stations and drive-thrus in the area. This policy shift reflects how many communities are prioritizing sustainability in urban development. The initiative aims to reduce car dependency and allow for more diverse urban uses.

Courtesy of the City of Austin, TX

TEXAS—New Regulations Around Austin Transit Routes Fast-Tracked in Support of Project Connect Plans
Ben Thompson, Community Impact, February 6 2024
Austin is updating its policies to spur denser development to encourage more housing and support the multi-billion-dollar Project Connect light rail plan. The proposed changes include allowing buildings of up to 120 feet tall near rail stations, creating an equitable Transit-Oriented Development (eTOD) overlay for properties within a half-mile of the rail station, and revising parking regulations.

Study: Subsidizing Transit Actually Makes It More Efficient
Kea Wilson, Streetblogs, February 5 2024
recent study focused on all forms of transit within a single operating area found that increased government subsidies enhances efficiency and ridership. The researchers at Kansas State University and Morgan State University determined that regions with higher per capita subsidies generated more revenues from fares, countering those who argue for the privatization of transit networks. New York City, for example, subsidized transit at $445 per resident per year between 2016 and 2019 but generated $565 in revenue, gaining the highest efficiency score in the country.

mandritoiu | Adobe Stock

Transit Agencies Are Climate Agencies, Too
Emily Pontecorvo, Heatmap, January 22 2024
In September 2023, Jeanie Ward-Waller, a deputy director at California’s state transportation department, faced sudden removal after threatening to expose an allegedly illegal highway widening project, raising concerns among climate advocates. This incident highlights the challenge of outdated transportation policies favoring road expansion over sustainability. However, initiatives such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and federal mandates for greenhouse gas reduction targets are prompting states to prioritize sustainable transit solutions, as seen in pioneering efforts in states such as Colorado and Minnesota.

International TOD News

Courtesy of the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport, European Commission

EU to Extend Major Rail Network to Lviv
Leo Chiu, Kyiv Post, February 6 2024
Creating the network’s longest corridor and its first full west-east route, Spain and the EU have agreed to extend the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) to Lviv, Ukraine. At full capacity by 2050, passenger rails will move at a speed of 160 km/hr and cross borders within 25 minutes. Additional efforts include plans to install standard gauge rail between Lviv and Poland to facilitate integration.

Courtesy of Chris Dikeakos Architecture

CANADA—Nearly 1,000 Homes in Three Towers Eyed Near Gateway Skytrain
Kenneth Chen, Daily Hive, February 5 2024
The City of Surrey proposes building three high-rise residential towers at the northern border of Surrey City Centre. The plans for the development, located a 10-minute walk from the SkyTrain Gateway Station, calls for a total of 967 homes to be built in two phases. The project includes indoor and outdoor shared amenities, 984 vehicle parking stalls, 1,179 bike parking spaces, and 2,600 sq. ft. of commercial space.

Rendering of the future Dikastiria Station, Athens. Courtesy of Tense Architecture Network

GREECE—Athens Metro to Grow by a Third, Eliminating 53,000 Cars a Day
Feargus O’Sullivan, Bloomberg, February 1 2024
Athens’ forthcoming fourth metro line promises to alleviate traffic congestion and reduce emissions by eliminating an estimated 53,000 cars from the road daily. The Thessaloniki Metro will bring 15 new stations into service by 2030, and plans call a total of new 35 stations. Controversy, however, surrounds the project as concerns emerge about its impact on green spaces and local character, particularly in neighborhoods such as Exarcheia, where protests have erupted over fears of gentrification.