Light rail and complementary development have broad effects on travel behavior

The goal of investing substantially in public transportation infrastructure and complementary transit oriented development (TOD) is to create positive outcomes for communities, including reducing carbon emissions, increasing access to jobs, and reducing reliance on personal vehicles. Two new studies highlight additional impacts of these investments; transit infrastructure leading to increased levels of physical activity and TOD residents forgoing driving for non-commute trips. 

High-quality transit may increase rents while it reduces overall transportation costs

Housing and transportation are the top two expenses for the average household in the U.S. Increased housing near high-quality transit can reduce transportation costs, but does not come without the risk of higher housing costs and potential displacement. Two studies released this year can help us understand the ways in which transit can be a net benefit, and some of the pitfalls to watch out for.

Utah leverages value capture to fund transportation

A unique public funding structure called Transportation Reinvestment Zones is a new strategy to increase funds available for public transportation and expanded housing near transit. TRZs work on the principle that improved amenities, access, and convenience will lead to increased property taxes, generating funds for transit and other public services.

The value of travel speed is not what we often think

People will pay more to reduce the amount of time they spend getting from one place to another, according to a principle known as “value of time.” So naturally, it would make sense that moving people faster would offer the same benefit. However, a new study suggests that increased speeds do not translate to shorter travel times and speed doesn’t have the same value as time.

Gas prices can have ripple effects on development patterns and travel options

Gasoline prices have clear impacts on development patterns, according to recent research that adds new evidence for the long-term impacts of transportation pricing signals. The new study shows that wage growth and low gas prices contributed to high rates of suburban growth in the 1980s and 1990s, measured in terms of deforestation. Those trends have reversed as gas prices have risen.

Micromobility in Cities, A History and Policy Overview (National League of Cities, 2019)

Bike sharing—both docked and undocked, manual and electric-assist—plus kick and electric scooters have become commonplace in cities across the U.S. But best practices are still emerging, and cities are often not sure if these new micromobility devices will bring positive or negative consequences to their transportation system and neighborhoods. The National League of Cities has provided a history of the rise of micromobility, a guide for what cities should think about as they move forward with regulation and policy, and finally case studies from across the country.

How and Where Should I Ride This Thing? “Rules Of The Road” for Personal Transportation Devices (Mineta Transportation Institute, 2019)

The Mineta Transportation Institute surveyed various levels of government—cities, states, and college campuses— as well as conducted personal interviews with stakeholders, to detail how jurisdictions are regulating electric and kick scooters, skateboards, e-skateboards, hoverboards, Segways, and rollerblades. They then recommended model state laws to bring some standardization to the use of these personal transportation devices.

Estimating policy effects on reduced vehicle travel in Hawaii (SSTI, 2019)

Transcending Oil, released in April 2018, describes Hawaii’s path toward meeting its ambitious clean energy goals by 2045. The report was commissioned by Elemental Excelerator and prepared independently by Rhodium Group and Smart Growth America. It focuses mainly on transitioning the electrical grid to renewable energy while moving large numbers of vehicles to electric power but also points to the importance of managing overall travel demand through transportation policies and investments. This technical guide describes the methods and findings behind Transcending Oil’s travel demand forecasts, developed by SSTI and Smart Growth America.

National Opportunity Zones Ranking Report

The newly created federal Opportunity Zones program will likely go down as the largest and most significant federal community development initiative in U.S. history. One way to make the most of that investment is by directing state transportation funds to further catalyze economic development in those distressed communities. This report helps identify which Opportunity Zones should be prioritized for investment in order to deliver positive economic, environmental, and social returns. It ranks 7,800+ Opportunity Zones, broken out by state, according to their smart growth potential and current social equity. It also provides a policy framework and case studies to ensure equitable, inclusive development in Opportunity Zones through transportation, land use, and development decisions.