Agreement Reached Between Toronto and Ontario on City’s Transit Future

» After a strong push by new Mayor Rob Ford, the extensive planned network of surface-running light rail lines will be replaced by a light rail subway to be funded by Ontario. The city argues it can fund another subway extension project itself.

In 2007, Toronto looked to be pioneering a more cost-effective way of providing major new transit infrastructure: Rather than investing huge sums on short segments of new subways as it had done in the past, the city would construct dozens of miles of street-running light rail, connecting far-off parts to the city without breaking the bank.

The “Transit City” effort, pushed by Mayor David Miller, eventually garnered the support of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, who agreed to use C$8.2 billion in provincial funds to complete 35 miles of rail on four lines, most of which would be above ground.

After the fall election of

Continue reading Agreement Reached Between Toronto and Ontario on City’s Transit Future »

Washington Celebrates Metro’s 35th Anniversary. Is it Defining the Region’s Growth?

» Census data point to uneven outcomes when it comes to orienting land use changes around transit.

For a brief period in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it looked like U.S. cities were back in the subway-building business. The federal government approved billions of dollars in aid for the construction of new networks in San Francisco, Atlanta, and — most significantly — Washington. In the nation’s capital, a world-class system was constructed, radically redefining the city’s landscape and offering its residents a fundamentally new and modern way to get around.

This week, Metro celebrates the 35th anniversary of the opening of its first line, whose construction first began in late 1969. How effective has the system been in re-orienting development patterns?

In many ways, Metro has proven to be an essential element of the region’s mobility system. Ridership, depending on who is counting and how they are doing it,

Continue reading Washington Celebrates Metro’s 35th Anniversary. Is it Defining the Region’s Growth? »

Losing State Support, Cincinnati’s Streetcar Project in Peril

» Wavering commitment to this — and similar infrastructure projects around the country — sends the wrong message about the seriousness of public investment in better transport.

Over the past few months, American transportation projects have been canceled at an accelerated rate: From New Jersey to Florida to Wisconsin, rail programs that have been in the making for years have been abandoned because of conservative opposition to expansion in transportation spending at all levels of the federal system.

This movement, which has been grounded in claims of fiscal responsibility, has sent a disappointing message about the commitment of the American public sector to projects it has previously endorsed.

Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) made his mark last year, eliminating state support for a new intercity rail line to connect Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland — despite the fact that the federal government had agreed to pay for all of the project’s construction

Continue reading Losing State Support, Cincinnati’s Streetcar Project in Peril »

Deciphering Conservative Objections to the Obama Administration’s High-Speed Rail Program

» Countering opposition to the intercity rail development project.

Members of the House and Senate expect to consider — and hopefully pass — a transportation reauthorization bill this year that will dedicate federal funding to the United States’ transport networks for the next several years. While spending on both highways and transit is virtually assured, one wildcard is high-speed rail, which has significant support from members of the Democratic Party and very little from the Republicans. While President Obama has made it one of his signature initiatives, promoting a plan to spend $53 billion on intercity rail lines over the next six years, GOP leadership has rejected funding offered to states like Florida and argued that the country should not be investing in such infrastructure.

The baseline explanation for the limited Republican support for such investments is relatively easy to pinpoint: Their electors live in areas that would benefit only

Continue reading Deciphering Conservative Objections to the Obama Administration’s High-Speed Rail Program »

The Downtown Renaissance Extends Its Reach

» In terms of residential growth, U.S. downtowns are coming back, even in the face of continued sprawl and trouble elsewhere in center cities.

For many inner cities in the United States, the ten years that opened the third millennium were not easy. In the face of declining employment and ever-increasing suburban sprawl, the populations of many of the nation’s largest cities — especially in the Midwest — declined. According to the U.S. government, which has begun to release data from the 2010 Census, the troubles for a number of municipalities that have not successfully transitioned from industrial-age employment paradigms to information age ones continue to mount.

On the face of it, the statistics are gloomy for this representative group of cities:

Baltimore lost 4.6% of its population since 2000
Chicago: -6.9%
Cincinnati: -10.4%
Cleveland: -17.1%
Pittsburgh: -8.6%
St. Louis: -8.3%

These data imply that the long-heralded re-invigoration of U.S. urban cores remains stilted at best; if major cities such

Continue reading The Downtown Renaissance Extends Its Reach »

The Site / The Fight

  • by Yonah Freemark
  • Twitter: @yfreemark
  • yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com
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