Friday, July 19, 2024
TOD News Briefs

The Week in TOD News July 30-August 5, 2022

The Portal Bridge begins. Who enforces mask mandates on transit? NJ TRANSIT seeks input on Newark Penn Station restoration. Can displacement be prevented while building TOD? Should transit be free? Passenger rail returns to Burlington VT. British Columbia partners with Japan on transit.

Article of the Week
Portal Bridge
Courtesy of NJ TRANSIT

SECAUCUS—Buttigieg Helps Break Ground on New Portal North Bridge Constructions Break Ground on New Portal North Bridge Construction
Insider NJ, August 1, 2022
US Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joined both New Jersey Senators, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and other state officials to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Portal North Bridge. Of symbolic and infrastructural importance to the wider Gateway Program that is slated to improve Northeast Corridor travel, the Portal North Bridge will span 2.44 miles and replace a 110-year old swing bridge. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy commented that the improvements to the Portal North Bridge will promote reliability and connectivity, which will translate to direct economic benefits for New Jersey and the nation.

Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi, Metro Man, MTA Police officers, local elected officials and members of the MTA's "Mask Force" hand out free masks
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority

NEW YORK—Metro-North Union Calls NY Mask Mandate ‘Hazard’ for Workers to Enforce 
NBC New York, August 1, 2022
As the pandemic recedes in passengers’ minds, hostility towards mask mandates presents an increased physical risk to transit service employees, according to Metro-North’s largest union. The head of the Association of Commuter Rail Employees says incidents between passengers and its members over the enforcement of mask mandates have prompted their call to make masks optional on New York’s public transit services. The New York State legislature has upgraded criminal charges for violence towards transit workers to help deter such aggression.

Steel Plaza Subway Station
John Marino | Wikimedia

PENNSYLVANIA—Pittsburgh Regional Transit Faces Diverging Ridership Trends on Bus, Light Rail 
Jon Moss and Nick Pasion, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 31, 2022
Adjusting to decreased ridership due to COVID-19, Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT) has seen greater dips in weekday commuter travel than in weekend travel. The agency attributes this pandemic-induced change to the rise of telework, which mirrors a 22.1 percent vacancy rate for office units in Pittsburgh. However, many area residents still rely on PRT service and advocates argue that prioritizing transit frequency throughout the week, rather than commuter travel, may serve those riders better in the years to come.

PENNSYLVANIA—Philadelphia Transit Dependent on $1.5B in COVID-19 Funding While Trying to Rebuild Ridership 
Tom Gantert, The Center Square, Jul 28, 2022
Transit ridership in Philadelphia remains significantly below pre-pandemic levels. Rebuilding ridership, and the collecting fares from those riders, is one means by which the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), the Philadelphia region’s chief transit agency, can reduce its dependence on limited COVID-19 relief funding. The agency has received $1.5 billion in funding that it will use to sustain services until 2024. The agency has set a goal to recover 80 percent of its pre-pandemic ridership by 2024; ridership reached only 40 percent by January 2022.

Bonnachoven | Wikipedia
Bonnachoven | Wikipedia

NEWARK—Newark Penn Station Is Being Restored and NJ Transit Wants Your Thoughts About the $191M Plan
Larry Higgs, NJ Advance Media for, August 3, 2022
Newark Penn Station will undergo major renovations as a part of a $191 million restoration plan that was announced by Governor Phil Murphy in late 2020. Looking for riders’ feedback on the plan, NJ TRANSIT will hold the first of three public meetings on August 9th, from 3:30-4:30PM EDT. Registration by email is required; participants will be able to share their thoughts and pose questions about the plan, which has already revealed artistic details from the 1930s that had been obscured.


Exchange Place Light Rail Station
Adam Moss | Flickr

NORTH JERSEY—Commuters Will Soon See Results of $1B PATH Improvement Program That Scored National Award
Larry Higgs,, August 1, 2022
A $1 billion improvement plan from 2019 for a PATH commuter line between New Jersey and New York has received recognition from the American Public Transit Association (APTA). The APTA 2022 Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award honors PATH for its investments to alleviate pre-pandemic crowding, such as a $78 million program already accommodating nine-car trains at stations on the Newark-World Trade Center line. The agency has also updated the Exchange Place Station in Jersey City with longer platforms and an additional passenger connection between Newark and New York bound platforms. As PATH navigates the coming years, additional projects from the improvement plan could prove to be vital for trans-Hudson travel.

Rents in New Jersey Remain Unaffordable Despite Pandemic Aid, Report Finds
Dana DiFilippo, New Jersey Monitor, July 28, 2022
As concern for affordable housing in New Jersey intensifies, a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition ranks the Garden State as having the 7th highest rents for two-bedroom apartments of any state in the country. Federal rent assistance is reportedly only available to one in four eligible NJ households; state assistance has only been provided to 4,000 individuals, which is less than five percent of the total 86,000 who applied. With New Jersey’s relatively large number of renters, increased state assistance and policy regarding affordable developments remains critical to addressing these housing inequities.

Transit and Equity News
Fare Cap depiction
Courtesy of the City of Edmonton

One Way to Make Transit More Equitable: Fare Capping
Skip Descant, Governing, July 31, 2022
As transportation policymakers grapple with addressing structural and economic inequalities, fare capping—the practice of limiting a rider’s combined fare fees to a preset cost—is gaining traction. Transit providers using “open loop contactless payments” as part of the California Integrated Travel Project (Cal-ITP), a contactless fare payment pilot, have adopted fare capping. In general, the practice sets fares to mirror those of a weekly or monthly pass, so that individuals unable to afford these options upfront are not made to pay more in individual single-ride tickets. The increased proliferation of digital, contactless payments for transit services has facilitated interest in fare capping.

The Case for Making Public Transit Free Everywhere
Nicole Kobie, Wired, July 29, 2022
Experts, politicians, and transit stakeholders worldwide are beginning to view public transit as an inherent public good and argue for free transit service to reduce car trips to help cities function more effectively. Through free or reduced transit experiments in Europe, the United States, and Australia, many have found that when making a shift to fare-free service, context matters deeply. Often free transit service affects cyclists and pedestrians more than those driving cars, by allowing them to shift to transit usage. However, Germany’s adoption of a 9-euro monthly travel pass did result in fewer cars on the road this past June. Inequity, climate considerations, rising inflation, and alternative revenue generation also shape the discussion surrounding fare-free transit, giving supporters continued steam.

The Forum in Chicago
Jim Roberts | Wikimedia

ILLINOIS—Can a New Housing Development Revitalize Bronzeville Without Displacing Residents?
Jerrel Floyd, Davon Clark, Frederique Desrosiers, Charlene Rhinehart, Erica Scalise and City Bureau, the Chicago Reader, July 27, 2022
The South Side Chicago community of Bronzeville will receive its first-ever equitable Transit-Oriented Development (eTOD), the 43 Green project. Deriving its name from the nearby 43rd Street Green Line stop on the Chicago ‘L’, 43 Green’s first phase will construct 99 residential units, roughly half of which will be designated as affordable. Previously, Chicago’s TOD efforts have been concentrated in the North Side, Northwest Side and in downtown; the project reflects wider recognition by the city and its partner developers of the need for affordability and transit access.

Regional and National TOD News

The Half-Promise of the Carbon Reduction Program
Mollie Dalbey and Stephen Coleman Kenny, T4America Blog, August 4, 2022
The new Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IJA) includes $6.4 billion in funding for the Carbon Reduction Program (CRP). The program requires states to develop and implement plans to reduce emission created by transportation. However, state DOTs can utilize up to half of CRP funds for transportation projects such as highway expansions so long as they document a reduction in carbon emissions—meaning that unless safeguards are put into place, states can utilize some CRP funds for activities that would increase emissions.

Bus pulling up to Basalt Stop
Courtesy of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority

COLORADO—Colorado Offered $28 Million for Free Transit in August. Most Money for Smaller Agencies Has Gone Unclaimed.
Olivia Prentzel and Marvis Gutierrez, Colorado Sun, August 2, 2022
Driver shortages among Colorado transit agencies have bottlenecked the use of some of the $2 million in state government aid designated for local, fare-free service. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, for instance, did not apply for the funding due to its concerns about providing reliable, increased service. The Authority had already cut back on its scheduled service due to the lack of available bus drivers. This condition continues to limit transit service expansions in the state.

CALIFORNIA—City Deploys Bird and Lime E-Bikes as Part of the ‘Dockless Mobility’ Pilot Program
City of West Hollywood, August 1, 2022
Lime has rolled out its next generation e-bikes as a part of the Dockless Mobility Pilot Program in the City of West Hollywood. A competing micromobility company, Bird, is also scheduled to introduce their own e-bikes in the Los Angeles-area community later this month. West Hollywood’s Long Range Planning Division and Parking Services Division has worked with the companies to establish appropriate parking stations for the new vehicles, though they will be permitted to park without a dock in areas that do not disrupt pedestrians.

MARYLAND—Council Approves New Zoning Measure to Expand Biohealth in Urbanizing, Transit-Oriented Locations
Press Release, Montgomery County, MD, July 29, 2022
Looking to attract the life science industry, Montgomery County, Maryland has drafted a new zoning measure to enable denser development for the biohealth sector. The measure will allow additional height and more flexibility in how density is calculated for urban biohealth facilities. The county sees transit-oriented locations as particularly primed to absorb biohealth investment. Councilmember Andrew Friedson, who introduced the measure, stated that, “…it takes a series of intentional policy decisions like this one to create an environment in which the life sciences industry can grow and flourish”.

The Ethan Allen Express Departing Burlington
Mackensen | Wikimedia

VERMONT—Passenger Rail Return to Vermont city took Vision, Decades
Wilson Ring, AP News, July 29, 2022
Vermont’s largest city, Burlington, now has reconnected service to New York City for the first time in nearly 70 years. Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express, a daily roundtrip service originally from Rutland, VT to New York City, will offer passengers a 7.5-hour journey with the extension to Burlington. The train makes intermediate stops in the two states including Rutland, Albany, and Yonkers. The extension resulted from a multi-decade, $117 million effort to restore Vermont’s rail infrastructure and reflects increased funding supporting Amtrak service throughout the nation.

NEW YORK—New York Gov. Hochul Applauds PACB Approval of Funding Agreement to Redevelop New York Penn Station, Revitalize Surrounding Neighborhood
Mass Transit, July 28, 2022
A unanimous vote by the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB) has approved the financial framework of New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s Penn Station redevelopment plan. Mayor Eric Adams voiced his support for the move, saying he, “…applaud[s] the PACB for this historic vote, which will bring a world-class transit hub, quality jobs and much-needed affordable housing to our city.” Not without controversy, the governor’s plan is slated to add 1,800 new housing units, significant amounts of office space, and enhancements to pedestrian infrastructure to the surrounding area, as part of the multi-billion-dollar effort.

International TOD News
Railway construction in India
Courtesy of NCRTC

INDIA—Delhi: Linked With Track and Road, Transit Hubs Touted as ‘Influence Zones’
Sidharatha Roy, The Times of India, August 5, 2022
Trains, rapid transit, buses, and the Regional Rapid Transit System would all be available at Delhi’s first single multimodal transit hub of Anand Vihar. Among the 12 transit nodes designated by the Delhi Development Authority for development under its TOD policy’s first implementation phase are the Anand Vihar multimodal transit hub and the Pink and Blue Line metro stations at Karkardooma. Current work includes an impact assessment of the permissible floor-area ratio (FAR) of 400 and separate urban design parameters. The policy calls for transit-oriented development that guarantees up to 30 percent open space, a minimum of 20 percent green space, and walkable streets. Development standards will also support equity in transportation and universal accessibility while promoting active transportation.

CANADA—Government of Canada Launches Consultations on Establishing Permanent Public Transit Funding
Mass Transit, August 2, 2022
The Government of Canada has begun engaging its residents on the design and implement of permanent funding for public transit. The funds, CAD$3 billion (US$2.3 billion), are part of CAD$14.9 billion (US$11.58 billion) investment announced in early 2021. The information gathered from rural, urban, and Indigenous communities will inform efforts to upgrade and expand public and active transportation, These efforts look to improve quality of life, address pollution, and increase access to job opportunities. Since 2015, Infrastructure Canada, a federal department established in 2002, has invested in 1,468 public transit projects totaling more than CAD$13 billion (US$10.1 billion).

Shinkansen going through a station
Fikri Rasyid | Unsplash

CANADA—BC Government and Japan Create Key Partnership on Transportation Infrastructure
Kenneth Chan, Daily Hive, July 30, 2022
The provincial government of British Columbia and the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport and Urban Development (JOIN) signed a memorandum of understanding to bolster cooperation on upcoming transit and other urban infrastructure projects. This strategic relationship reflects the growing number of multi-billion-dollar infrastructure projects in BC, particularly those in the Metro Vancouver area. TransLink and the Mayors’ Council’s recent approval of the 10-year priorities projects as part of Transport 2050 plan includes up to nine bus rapid transit (BRT) lines, several transit stops, and research initiatives to be implemented through the early 2030s. BC’s new partnership with JOIN could support a proposal to build a high-speed passenger rail line between Metro Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland.