One of the main reasons that heavy rail projects are more expensive to build in the U.S. is that we build too few projects, too infrequently, to optimize our engineering, review, and land acquisition policies.
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.
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.
Even before the pandemic sent a shockwave through transit systems, ridership across the U.S. was on a slow but steady downward trajectory. A new report from Transit Cooperative Research Program points to some of the leading causes and, more importantly, ways that thoughtful planning and transit investments could help reverse the trend in the next decade.
A recent report by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) highlights transportation inequities in the greater Chicago area. Big-picture findings support the region’s comprehensive plan, but the near-term recommendations focus on changes in transportation-related fees, fines, and fares—a small but important share of overall transportation costs.
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.
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.
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.
This report proposes a new approach to assessing and responding to land use-driven transportation impacts, called “modern mitigation.” Instead of relying on auto capacity improvements as a first resort, this approach builds on practice around transportation demand management (TDM) to make traffic reduction the priority. Based on programs dating to the 1990s in several cities, a modern mitigation program requires certain new land uses to achieve TDM credits.
This report examines how governments can use contracting to improve their service for riders and take advantage of new technologies. However, they also caution that there are important considerations to safeguard the public interest and get the most from public-private transit partnerships.