Transit ridership continues upward trend in 2011

According to new figures from APTA, 2011 transit ridership is at the second highest level since 1957, only higher in 2008, when gas topped four dollars per gallon. An improving economy, rising gas prices, and easy access to transit information via mobile apps are credited as three reasons for the continued rise in transit use. Ridership grew in large, medium and small communities, showing strong support for transit.

A transportation engineer rethinks congestion pricing

Congestion pricing in New York City should be easy; there are only bridges and tunnels to get into the most congested areas of the city, and many already have tolls. Access is limited, and transit is plentiful once commuters arrive in congested Manhattan. But political pressures from the outer boroughs and anti-tax sentiments defeated efforts to implement congestion pricing in 2008. Now a veteran transportation engineer has offered a new plan that could be more popular in the suburbs and still provide incentives to find alternatives to driving into the central business district.

Infrastructure banks offer funding opportunities for transportation projects

Via infrastructure banks, states or cities can leverage money for transportation projects, accelerate construction timelines, and recycle assistance for future transportation projects. Infrastructure banks can be used in conjunction with traditional financing and other innovative tools to maximize transportation investments. As Chicago announces the first local infrastructure bank, the White House pushes for a national infrastructure bank.

More Americans commuting long distances to work

Between 2002 and 2009 the number of “super-commuters,” people who work in a metropolitan area’s central county while living outside the bounds of the metropolitan area, grew dramatically, far outpacing workforce growth rates, in all but two of the nation’s ten largest metropolitan labor markets. Many of these workers only make their commute once or twice a week, and worked remotely the rest of the time.

Why “forgiving roadways” are not the solution in urban areas

Roadway designers since the 1960’s have used the concept of “forgiving highways.” Due to its success in reducing fatal crashes on high speed access controlled roadways, engineers have been applying this methodology to urban streets in built up areas as well. However, this approach might actually make certain roads deadlier for motorists, as it encourages drivers to drive faster and less cautiously, and it has been shown to lessen pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

CNT unveils updated Housing + Transportation Affordability Index

Last week, the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) unveiled its updated Housing and Transportation Affordability (HTA) Index. HTA provides a comprehensive measure of affordability by quantifying the combined costs of housing and transportation in communities across the U.S. The updated HTA Index provides a wealth of economic, demographic, geographic and environmental data to support improvements in equity and economic well-being through better transportation options and reductions in transportation-inefficient development.

Off-street parking access linked to higher VMT

When it comes to parking in new residential developments, planners often face stakeholders with two opposing positions. Some want land-use authorities to require lots of off-street parking in order to avoid over-demand for street spots. Others complain that all that off-street parking will just induce more traffic; if authorities require anything, they should set parking maximums, not minimums. A new study by Rachel Weinberger of the University of Pennsylvania provides evidence for the latter view.