In the Chicago region, a setback for regional planning

Chicago Fullerton Station

» A major roadway is advanced, in violation of the consensus-based plan.

Yesterday, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) policy committee voted to approve the addition of a major new highway to the regional plan document. If built, the Illiana Expressway will run 47 miles between I-55 and I-65 in Illinois and Indiana, about 10 miles south of the existing built-up area of the Chicago region.

The project was supported by the relevant state departments of transportation as an essential complement to the existing mobility system and an economic development tool. But the decision to add it to the regional plan suggests a breakdown in what had been until recently a metropolitan-wide consensus about which projects to fund. Though the adoption of the project does not mean the end of the plan, it does imply that sticking to a regional plan in the face of political

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A Tollway in Dallas and the Absurdity of Building Duplicative Infrastructure

Trinity River Tollway

» Even as Dallas finishes work on a new light rail line, plans for a new highway along a parallel corridor advance.

This summer, Dallas’ Orange Line will be extended five stations northwest of downtown. The light rail service will expand what is already the United States’ longest such network and improve connections between central Dallas, the suburb of Irving, and — in 2014 — Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Yet billions of dollars in new construction have barely increased transit use; just 4.2% of the city’s commuters use public transportation to get to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. If there is one city that proves that simply building transit does not attract people to transit, this is it.

Investments in Dallas’ road infrastructure might provide some explanation for the situation. An astonishing seven grade-separated highways extend radially out from the city center in all directions.* This is a

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Car Sharing 2.0 Leaps Forward in Paris

An Autolib' station under construction in Paris

» An all-electric, point-to-point system could revolutionize how we think about the automobile and significantly reduce the need for private cars in our cities.

American urbanites have already become quite familiar with the concept of car sharing through the rapid expansion of companies like ZipCar and I-Go; the ability to rent a car at a reasonable price at any time from a location within walking distance of home or work has dramatically reduced the need for at least some people to own private vehicles, since it covers the gap in service not provided by transit: Trips that are out-of-the-way, that require moving heavy goods, or that occur at inconvenient times. This is great for cities and for people, since not only does it reduce the need for parking, but it reduces vehicle capital expenses for everyone, since the cost of purchasing the car is effectively shared among many

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Ridesharing as an Alternative to Transportation Capacity Increases

Carpools only

» To what degree can we rely on people getting into strangers’ cars to reduce the congestion on our highway networks?

Outside of the biggest, densest cities, transit generally underperforms; with smaller populations, less significant destinations, more diffuse congestion, and far more available parking, there is often little motivation for people to abandon their cars in favor of jumping on the bus or the train. As a result, the work commuting mode share for public transportation in most metropolitan areas in the U.S.is less than 5% (only five regions have shares above 10%).

Carpooling, on the other hand, attracts more than 7% of work trips in all major metropolitan areas. In many places, where public transportation options just are not particularly appealing, sharing an automobile with another person can be an excellent commuting alternative, especially for people who cannot afford to own their own vehicles.

But how useful can carpooling be

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Transit Mode Share Trends Looking Steady; Rail Appears to Encourage Non-Automobile Commutes

San Francisco's Market Street

» Results of the 2009 American Community Survey show major declines in carpooling, significant increases in biking.

Just how effective have new investments in transit been in promoting a shift of Americans towards public transportation? Has the recent livable communities movement resulted in increased commuting by bike or by foot?

The Census’ American Community Survey, released at the end of last month with the most recent 2009 data, provides a glimpse of what can change over nine years. These data are approximations in advance of the much bigger (and more accurate) sample set that is Census 2010, whose results will be released next year. The information detailed here applies to commutes only, not all trips.

By looking at America’s 30 largest cities — from New York to Portland — we can get some idea of how people are choosing to get to work, and how patterns are changing based

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The Site / The Fight

by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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