» 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 »
» Boston’s Green Line extension, bloated after years of planning, gets slimmed down. A lesson for other cities.
Given how reliant the people of New York City are on their Subway, an outsider just looking at ridership data might conclude that the system must be paved with gold, or at least its stations must be decent to look at. After all, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that the comfort of a transit system plays an essential role in encouraging people to abandon their cars and get on the train or bus. That’s why, some would argue, it’s so important to put amenities like USB charging and wifi into transit vehicles.
Yet anyone who has ever ridden the Subway knows first hand that its success has nothing to do with aesthetics or access to luxury amenities. Stations are hardly in good shape, trains are packed, and cell service is spotty
Continue reading Frequent service, not escalator access, is what attracts transit users »
» Metropolitan Seattle plans to offer its voters the chance to fund a large new transit expansion program. But are the projects chosen for initial funding the right ones?
Building a regional fixed-guideway transit network is no quick or easy feat, at least in the United States in our era of high costs and relatively slow construction timelines. Seattle’s first light rail line was funded by voters in 1996 but didn’t open its first section for thirteen years; the full extent of the initial line just opened last month, a full twenty years later.
ST3 may be the most ambitious transit expansion package in the entire country, but is it more important to provide access to far suburbs or to focus on corridors where transit can do best?
Despite the slow pace, residents of big cities across the country are hungry for more, hoping to spread the benefits of rapid transit to other
Continue reading You’ve got $50 billion for transit. Now how should you spend it? »
» One last proposal from President Obama stakes a big claim in favor of improved public transportation instead of highway infrastructure, but given the Congressional environment, hopes for passage are slim.
If Congress’ hostility to President Barack Obama hadn’t already been apparent, the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia certainly pulled back the curtains. Suffice it to say that the administration has very little hope of making significant policy change over the next year.
The administration has taken this opportunity to emphasize the importance transportation plays in contributing to climate change.
Nonetheless, the Administration revealed its big budget proposal last week, and with it a major plan for increased investment in surface transportation. Unlike the FAST five-year bill passed in December by Congress, Obama’s budget would substantially increase funding for transportation infrastructure over the current levels.
As the following chart shows, while budget outlays for highways, transit (Federal Transit Administration), and railroads (Federal Railroad Administration) have remained
Continue reading At long last, a transportation budget that pays for itself—and recognizes the climate »