» 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 »
» More than 240 miles of new fixed-guideway transit is expected to come online in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico this year. Also, check out a new way to visualize existing, planned, and proposed transit lines in North America: Transit Explorer.
Cities across the country are waking up to new bus and rail lines in droves. In 2016, North American transit agencies are expected to open 245 miles of new fixed-guideway transit lines, including 89 miles of bus rapid transit, 93 miles of commuter rail, 7 miles of heavy rail, 39 miles of light rail, and 18 miles of streetcars. This is more than triple the new mileage of such lines opened in 2015.
Use Transit Explorer to visualize the routes of existing, planned, and proposed transit lines, and to learn about their individual characteristics.
Thanks in part to significant expenditures by national governments—such as the Urban Circulator and Continue reading Openings and Construction Starts Planned for 2016 »
» The FAST Act is passed by the House and Senate, profoundly dismissing the claim that transportation is to be funded with user fees. Yet it reinforces decades-old policy about how money is to be spent and does nothing for the climate.
It’s a big achievement. At least, that’s what members of the U.S. House and Senate are telling themselves this week, now that they’ve passed a major long-term transportation reauthorization bill with overwhelming majorities from both sides of the aisle. President Obama will sign the bill in the coming days.
This legislation reinforces the trend that has been developing over the past seven years: Transportation funding at the federal level no longer has to be derived from user fees.
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (“FAST”) will not fix America’s surface transportation, but it will provide $305 billion in spending over the next five years for our highway, transit, and railroad networks,
Continue reading A new federal transportation bill rejects the long-standing consensus on revenue but preserves the policy status quo »
» We cannot bank our hopes for a less car-dependent future on the supposed preferences of a new generation.
The plateauing and decline in U.S. vehicle miles traveled per capita that occurred between mid-2005 and mid-2014 was described by some hopeful commentators as a dramatic shift that was indicative of the preferences of a new workforce. Yes, it coincided with the recession and an increase in gas prices, they said, but it was really more about generational change. Whereas in the past Americans dreamed of living in the suburbs and traveling virtually everywhere in their single-occupant automobiles, now Americans, addicted to their smart phones, are looking for walkable, urban living. Evidence suggests that they may have had a point: The age at which people registered for drivers licenses is increasing and certainly neighborhoods in central neighborhoods in city after city have been blossoming of late.
The more recent uptick in per-capita vehicle miles traveled
Continue reading America’s car obsession will not be diminished by Millennials alone »