» Donald Trump wants to make a big splash by supporting a huge new infrastructure bill. But we don’t want to end up with the construction of massive new highways from coast to coast.
After six years of proposals for significant new transportation funding being proposed by President Obama, and then being shot down immediately by intransigent Republican Congresspeople, infrastructure is suddenly the talk of Washington. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton proposed major infrastructure packages during the campaign, and the Trump transition team includes a proposal for transportation investment as one of its top priorities. As I’ll describe below, this proposal would likely primarily fund transportation projects that exacerbate climate change and encourage exurban sprawl.
We must remember that the primary goal of transit advocates should not be to simply get projects built. It should be to create more livable, less carbon-intensive cities by shifting the country’s transportation
Continue reading Should the U.S. spend $1 trillion on new infrastructure? »
» If passed, referenda in dozens of cities could expand funding for transportation across America.
This year’s U.S. election has overwhelmingly focused on the dynamics between the two presidential candidates, and for good reason: As I documented earlier this year, the policy differences between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on infrastructure are substantial. Control of the presidency and the U.S. Congress could dramatically alter the availability of funds for public transportation and active transportation projects; it is worth emphasizing that the Republican Party has repeatedly argued for the elimination of federal funding for transit, bike, and pedestrian programs while maintaining federal support for highways. At the state level, party control matters for transit as well; North Carolina’s GOP, for example, cut off most funding for light rail last year through a legislative maneuver.
But more is at stake, thanks to dozens of referenda offering voters the opportunity to support billions of dollars in new expenditures on public transportation. The
Continue reading On the ballot 2016 »
» In New York City, transit providers create new services to handle disruptions—even when existing lines can support the load.
Beginning early this month, PATH—the metro rail system operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that connects Manhattan and Northern New Jersey—began installing new signals, forcing the closure of a section of its network in New York City. In the process, the agency is providing a bus shuttle service as a substitute over the course of 17 weekends, shuttling passengers on an above-ground route between the Midtown business district and the World Trade Center, where PATH trains continue to run.
All of this might make sense under normal circumstances; in fact, in places like Chicago where rail lines have been shut down, bus service replacement has worked well. Yet in New York, the service being replaced runs on a corridor shared by other subway lines*—but
Continue reading The boundaries that divide our transit systems »
» The Republican Party, despite its claims about the importance of infrastructure—and big promises from Donald Trump—pushes a more limited federal role. Democrats, in line with Hillary Clinton, advocate large new investments.
During an election year where trade and terrorism have taken center stage, it’s hardly surprising issues related to transportation have played a limited role in the national discussion about how to move the U.S. forward. Some have noted that urban policy has largely been ignored, despite the fact that many American cities continue to face considerable problems related to public investment, poverty, and economic growth.
Yet the reality is that the Democratic and Republican parties and their respective candidates for the presidency, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have laid out positions on the future of the nation’s transportation system through party platforms, candidate issue memos, and public statements. The approval of the two parties’ platforms over the past two
Continue reading Both parties claim support for investing in infrastructure. But how will they do it? »
» Over the decades, cities change size, but they gain and lose population in varying ways: Some in-town, some on greenfield land. How does that impact our understanding of population change?
Every few months, the U.S. Census releases new data on population change, chronicling the rise and fall of America’s cities, counties, and regions as they grow and shrink. The data are fascinating, bringing us useful insights about migration flows and economic shifts. They also point to fundamental changes in the places Americans live: Houston over Chicago, Phoenix over Philadelphia, and so on. And they produce breathless news reports that emphasize that the fastest-growing places are 15 cities you’ve never heard of.
Yet as data are released and evaluated, the trends as described by the levels of information presented by the Census often fail to directly represent underlying facts about how cities are changing–or they at least do not do so adequately. Comparing the changes in population size in
Continue reading Reorienting our discussion of city growth »