» 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
Continue reading A Tollway in Dallas and the Absurdity of Building Duplicative Infrastructure »
» 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
Continue reading Car Sharing 2.0 Leaps Forward in Paris »
» 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
Continue reading Ridesharing as an Alternative to Transportation Capacity Increases »
» 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
Continue reading Transit Mode Share Trends Looking Steady; Rail Appears to Encourage Non-Automobile Commutes »
» Nation’s first modern bike sharing city replaces its fleet. Program could bring dramatic change to one of the nation’s more vibrant inner cities.
When Washington’s SmartBike DC system began operating in 2008, the city was doing something no U.S. municipality had yet attempted: Betting that locals and tourists would excitedly jump onto public bicycles, encouraging the growth of a transportation mode that has too often been left behind by automobile-oriented planners.
Unfortunately, that bet failed to come through: The system was never frequently used, with an average of only about one hundred daily riders. For those of us used to using bike sharing networks, there were good explanations for the system’s difficulties: It was confined in too small of an area; it only offered about 100 bikes total; and it only had ten stations. European standards, grounded in model schemes in Lyon, Barcelona, and Paris, suggested that the most
Continue reading Washington’s Capital Bikeshare Launches, Bringing Biggest-Yet System to the U.S. »