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Transit


748 MetroGreater ideas and counting! What's yours?

Riders across the region have submitted more than 700 ideas to make Metro greater. You can read a few of them below. What's your MetroGreater idea?

Last week, Greater Greater Washington launched MetroGreater, a crowdsourcing site for riders to submit their ideas for small, quick fixes Metro can make to improve the rider experience on rail, bus, or paratransit. Through July 15th, the public can submit and comment on others' ideas. Then, a jury will review the ideas and the public will get to vote among the finalists to pick a winner.

In less than one week we've gotten 748 ideas! Most of them are responsive to the key criteria: that ideas be achievable by Metro for under $100,000 in under six months and not impair safety or violate any laws.

Metro rail art

Several ideas involve art installations in Metro tunnels and stations. Michael thinks art will help keep conductors alert and engaged. Kristin shares research which shows positive effects of subway art on riders' experience. From encouraging tourists to visit lesser-frequented stations by featuring local artists' work to keeping conductors and passengers more engaged, many people think adding art will making riding Metro greater.


Photo by Megan Wong on Flickr.

SmartTrip reloads on Metrobus

In an effort to speed up bus service, Eric thinks there should be a minimum requirement for how much people can reload onto their SmartTrip cards while aboard a bus. He thinks that instituting a minimum reload of $5, $10, or even $20, would reduce the number of reloads per person and improve overall bus travel time. Jess, however, disagrees. Dominic suggests testing out pre-payment on busy bus routes to address the delays caused by onboard reloads.

More seating on rail and bus

Dan and Victoria think we need more seating at Metro rail stations. Mathew suggests stronger language on priority seating signs.

Quick fixes for people with disabilities

Diana suggests printing color words on Metro signs so people with colorblindness can navigate better, while Shelby recommends having a light flash on the exit side of the train as it pulls into a station to help deaf passengers.


Photo by nevermindtheend on Flickr.

Popular suggestions

A few ideas seem to be quite popular. At quick glance, the most common suggestions have to do with improving lighting in Metro rail stations, helping people understand the "stand right, walk left" escalator etiquette, and enforcing the no eating or drinking rules.

What do you think of these ideas? Remember, you can submit and comment on others' ideas at metrogreater.org through July 15th.

Transit


At this park & ride, buses and bikes get the spotlight

Renovations to Fairfax's Stringfellow Road Park and Ride just finished up, and they're largely focused on buses and bicycles. This means the park and ride will function more like a multi-modal transit center than just a place for commuters to leave their cars.


New waiting area and bike racks. Photo by Adam Lind.

The park and ride is in Centreville, close to Fair Lakes and I-66. There is a special HOV-only exit that makes it popular with commuters who want to either join a slug line or catch the bus.


Image from Google Maps.

It will be easier to catch a bus

New buses will service the park and ride, while existing routes will run more often, seven days a week. At rush hour, buses will run between Stringfellow and the Vienna Metro every 10 minutes.

A Fairfax Connector store will have resources for riders, as well as a place to wait for the bus. Also, more bus service is likely to come in the future thanks to Transform 66. That project will build HOT lanes between Haymarket and Falls Church that will be used by a number of express buses, which may originate or stop at Stringfellow Road.

There's a great option for storing your bike

Bicycling also gets a big boost thanks to the arrival of the county's second secure bike room. This facility will be similar to the now-popular bike room at the Reston-Wiehle Metro station.

The bike room is a great option for cyclists: the fact that you need a membership pass makes it much less likely for your bike to be stolen, and the shelter keeps your bike out of the elements. Some parking is available for bike trailers or other over-sized bicycles as well.


Inside the secure bike room. Photo by Adam Lind.

Adam Lind, Fairfax County's bicycle program coordinator, said that Fairfax has plans to provide secure bike parking at any regular parking garage built or funded by the Fairfax County Department of Transportation. This includes garages built at future Silver Line Metro stations. He also said that members will be able to use any garage in the county's growing network.

Lind expects that biking to the Stringfellow Park and Ride will become even more popular since Transform 66 will many making bike and pedestrian options in surrounding neighborhoods better. One example: plans to extend the Custis Trail.

While the big transit news in Fairfax usually deals with Tyson's Corner and the Silver Line the new amenities at Stringfellow Road show that improvement is happening all over the our region's most populous jurisdiction.

Transit


Public transportation is important, say Virginians

Fewer people in Virginia are driving to work alone, Virginians want more bus, train, and bike options throughout the state, and there's a link between the number of transit options a person has and their quality of life. These takeaways, and more, come from a recently-released survey of Virginia's residents.


One question in the survey asked "How satisfied are you with your trip to work?" Image from DRPT.

Last year, Virginia's Department of Rail and Public Transportation ran the Virginia Statewide Travel Study, asking almost 10,000 people across the state about their commutes. The agency ran a similar survey in 2007.

The vast majority of respondents came from 12 major areas in the state including Northern Virginia, Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Charlottesville. The survey asked people a variety of questions about how they get to work, what they know about the transportation available where they live, and what they think about it.

The results of the 2015 were presented in May, at the Virginia Transit Association's annual conference. DRPT summarized the study's findings in five points:

  1. Virginia is becoming more multimodal, and transit is part of this success story.
  2. Higher satisfaction ratings with work commutes directly correlate to higher satisfaction ratings with Virginia's transportation system. Higher ratings of Virginia's transportation system drive higher quality of life ratings.
  3. Those who commute to work by bus/train (versus other modes) are more satisfied with their work commutes and Virginia's transportation system.
  4. Virginia needs to get more people on board. This comes with little risk, as more people would ride the bus if more convenient transit services were available.
  5. Most people would support more investment in Virginia's transportation system. The vast majority of Virginians, including "drive-alone commuters," feel it is important that Virginia invest in its transportation system to maintain and grow Virginia's economy. This includes alternative transportation options.
The average commuting distance from home to work of those surveyed was just under 17 miles and 29 minutes one-way, just about the same as what the survey found in 2007.

However, the survey also found that people driving alone to/from work accounted for around 77% of trips, a 5% decrease from 82% in 2007. The drop in single-occupancy driving is interesting, as Virginia's population has grown by 600,000 people from 7.7 to 8.3 million between the time the two studies were conducted.

Seven of 10 major regional markets in Virginia saw the drop in drive-alone rates, led by Hampton Roads (down 11 percent), Culpeper (down 9 percent), and Richmond (down 8 percent). State-wide, Virginia saw train, bus, and telework commuting rise 5.5 percent at the same time.


Virginians agree strongly that public transportation is important.

When asked about the importance of investment in and upkeep of transportation, all age groups, generations, transportation mode users, and even the vast majority of drive-alone commuters expressed significant agreement that the transportation system is important to Virginia's economy.

Most importantly though, the responses seem to indicate agreement that a multitude of transportations is important—not just driving. Multiple options including car, train, and bus can provide backups to each other, added capacity, and affordable options for getting from one place to the next.


DRPT's study suggests increasing transit frequency and making it more available would increase ridership.

The DRPT survey also suggests that if there were more transit service, more people would use it. Just around 50 percent of those surveyed said they would be more likely to use public transit more often if either it was available closer to where they live, or if it operated more frequently. Both of these statements seem to be fairly obvious, but now the state has data to back up similar claims when they're looking to expand capacity like bringing rail service back to Roanoake.

Interestingly, there's a 6% gap between the top two responses, and the next five down. The response gap between the top two and the third option of less-expensive fares appears to suggest that even if the transit service is somewhat pricey (think WMATA's distance-based fares), the ridership could still be there as long as access to the service is convenient, and as long as the service is frequent.

The entire 2015 Virginia Statewide Travel Study presentation is available on the DRPT website. The agency plans to release region-specific versions of the report in the near future.

Links


National links: New transit for Detroit

Detroit is instituting a tax to pay for more transit, the world's longest rail tunnel just opened in Switzerland, and Expedia is moving to Seattle, but wants to be suburban. Check out what's happening around the country in transportation, land use, and other related areas!


Photo by Graham Davis on Flickr.

Motorbus city: Detroit is going to put a tax measure on the November ballot that would pay for an expanded transit network. The plan has been in the works for 3 years, and would include bus rapid transit lines, improved bus service, universal fare cards, and a Detroit-to-Ann Arbor commuter rail line. (MLive)

All about that Base: Wednesday marked the first run for trains traveling through the 35-mile Gotthard Base Tunnel under the Swiss Alps, now the longest rail tunnel in the world. The project took 17 years and cost $12.5 billion dollars. Project planners claim that a million trucks a year will be taken off the road as goods are shipped through the tunnel's rails. (New York Times)

Suburban campus: Expedia is leaving its offices in Bellevue, WA to move into Seattle. But unlike Amazon, which is downtown, Expedia will be in a more suburban, car-friendly campus, away from high-rise buildings. (Wall Street Journal)

Bad reputation rebrand: Dongguan, a city in southern China, has a reputation for prostitutes and crime. The state hired Hong Kong designers to re-shape the city using modular designs. The project is ambitious, yet officials know it won't fix all their problems. (Fast Company Design)

Shh, don't tell: Cities are hip and fashionable these days, but some of the people you might expect to end up with that loft on a lively street have instead opted for the suburbs. They might even be a little embarrassed about it, but should they be? No. (Philadelphia Magazine)

Red Zone: An influential New York transportation planner in the 70s and 80s, Sam Schwartz created the term "gridlock" and was an early champion of congestion pricing and car-free zones. He's happy to now enjoy some of the ideas he never got to implement, like bike lanes and public plazas. (Guardian Cities)

Quote of the Week

"The floods of 20 years ago are not as bad as the floods that are going to be 20 years from now. But [FEMA's maps] only look at historic experience." Michael Gerrard in an article on Frontline describing how many FEMA floodmaps are out of date and don't take into account the effects of Climate Change.

Transit


Prince George's is not prepared for SafeTrack

SafeTrack, Metro's year-long program to fix its rail system and address safety problems, begins June 4. However, Prince George's County officials have not taken sufficient steps to help residents get around, such as designating HOV lanes or using school buses to shuttle people to and from available Metro stations.


Photo by Russell James Smith on Flickr.

The planned repairs to the rail system will cause huge problems for the region's commuters over the next year. The pain will be particularly acute for Prince George's commuters between June 18 and July 3, when all Metrorail service across the Anacostia River on the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines will be shut down for a 16-day closure of the Potomac Avenue and Stadium-Armory stations.

More than 25,000 riders a day who commute by Metrorail from Prince George's County and DC's Ward 7 on those lines will be completely cut off from downtown Washington and northern Virginia during that period.

Metro is depending on local jurisdictions to assist in the mitigation effort

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld stressed that SafeTrack "will require regional coordination, resources, communication, and shared pain." Specifically, Wiedefeld requested that local jurisdictions provide additional support and input in the form of "traffic control, parking restrictions, bus support, HOV restrictions, etc."

Some localities have already answered Metro's call. For example, Fairfax County has agreed to provide supplemental express buses from Reston and Vienna to the Pentagon during the first scheduled SafeTrack surge. Arlington County will use higher-capacity buses on selected routes, convert some streets to bus-only, eliminate some street parking, and adjust traffic signal operations as needed.

Prince George's, by contrast, is not currently planning to take these kinds of steps. Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPW&T) spokesperson Paulette Jones stated that "Metrorail plays an unparalleled role in regional mobility" but that "Prince George's County cannot replicate or significantly supplement [Metrorail's] function" without making dramatic, costly, and inconvenient changes to the county's current transportation system.

DPW&T's Associate Director of Transportation, D'Andrea Walker, added that Prince George's County does not have the same resources as Fairfax and Arlington and that DPW&T cannot afford to do anything other than try to inform residents of alternative transportation options such as ride sharing, teleworking, and working during off-peak hours.

Sadly, DPW&T is missing the point. No one is suggesting that Prince George's can instantaneously replicate Metrorail's service, even if it had unlimited resources. But the county can and should do a better job of mitigating the impact of Metro's service disruptions—and it should be able to do so without breaking its piggy bank.

One idea that I've put forward before was for Prince George's to use school buses to provide supplemental shuttle service during the 16-day shutdown period. The Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS) Transportation Department maintains a fleet of 1,247 school buses and employs 2,006 drivers and attendants. Those buses will be idle, since school won't be in session. Why can't DPW&T work with PGCPS to place some of those buses, drivers, and attendants into service to assist with SafeTrack mitigation?


Image from PGCPS.

When I asked, nobody at the county gave me a reason that this wasn't feasible. Sure, the county will need to spend some money to run these buses and do the other things required to provide effective mitigation. That's what government has to do when responding to any crisis. We seem to understand that intrinsically when it comes to things like snow removal. This is just a different kind of transportation crisis.

HOV lanes will help move people, not threaten the public

DPW&T's spokeswoman, Jones, said the agency has not explored the option of creating bus lanes on certain arterial roads because it believes such lanes "would dramatically increase congestion, idling time, and pollution within [those] corridors." Yet when I asked her for the specific facts or studies that support this claim, she wasn't able to cite any.

That's not surprising, for as the graphic below shows, buses transport people much more efficiently than single-occupancy vehicles. And while some have questioned the environmental benefits of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, most serious studies show that they result in reduced emissions and better air quality.


Photo by Jeff Moser on Flickr.

There is still time for County Executive Rushern Baker and DPW&T to come up with real and workable solutions to avoid this looming transportation crisis. You can encourage them to do so by signing Greater Greater Washington and the Coalition for Smarter Growth's action alert.

A version of this post appeared on Prince George's Urbanist.

Transit


DC's plans for SafeTrack are underwhelming

DC's plans for helping people travel during SafeTrack include expanded restrictions on on-street parking during rush hour, more taxi stands and places to meet up and carpool, and more officers to help control traffic. There's currently nothing about expanded bus or HOV lanes.

DC mayor Muriel Bowser, WMATA Chief Operating Officer (and former interim General Manager) Jack Requa, and District Department of Transportation director Leif Dormsjo laid out these changes at a press conference on Thursday.

In May, we wrote about how important it would be for transportation departments to consider bus and HOV lanes along major transportation corridors. It could be tough to pull off, but getting through SafeTrack isn't going to be easy, and asking people to carpool won't be enough.

Let's hope that with maintenance surges only beginning now, leaders will find more solutions than those currently on the table.

Details on plans for Arlington and Fairfax should come out of a 1 pm press conference today.

Transit


In Denver, you can now take a train from the airport to downtown

There's a new way to get from Denver's airport to downtown: the University of Colorado A Line, which opened in April. When I rode it, I enjoyed how easy it was to get a ticket and connect to other transit lines downtown. I'm a little worried about long ticket lines and a confusing name, though.


Colorado A Line train at Denver's Union Station with unknown family. All photos by the author.

The A Line runs 23 at-grade miles to Union Station (near Coors Field, where the Colorado Rockies play), with a expected to leave the airport about every 15 minutes. While it's named after the University of Colorado, that's just a business partnership; none of the line's eight stops has a University of Colorado campus nearby (that I could tell).

The line connects to other operating light rail lines (streetcars with overhead wires) and bus systems, such as the 16th Street Mall bus (which will take you farther into downtown Denver). Two new commuter rail lines are expected to open later this year. As the RTD (Regional Transportation District) website states, "this is all part of FasTracks, a multi-billion dollar voter-approved transit expansion plan bringing you more transportation options than ever before."

A day pass for the A Line is $9. Compare that to an average $74 taxi or $33 Uber (what I paid to ride from downtown back to the airport), and this option is the clear winner when it comes to price.

At the airport, the train is just a short trip down the escalators from baggage claim.


Signs at the Denver Airport. Photo by the author.

When I got to the ticket kiosks, two people were ready to help me purchase a rail pass, which was quite easy. Currently, there are only four kiosks, two of which are debit/credit only. A small line did form as people waited to purchase a ticket. When more people are traveling, I imagine there's going to be an annoying wait.


Train ticket purchase kiosks at Denver Airport. Photo by the author.


The Airport Day Pass Ticket ($9). Photo by the author.

Luckily, there was a train waiting at the station when I was ready to go. It had four rail cars with space to stow luggage, skis, bikes, and wheelchairs.


Interior shot of Colorado A Line train car. Photo by the author.

It was nice to ride a new train with clean seats and floors (though there was no "new train" smell, from what I could tell). There are three ways of communicating with passengers: announcements (engineer & pre-recorded), LED screens, and a scrolling message bar. The engineer also updated us on delays and was easy to hear—just like it happens on Metro, we had to pause until another train cleared the station.


Display screen in the Colorado A Line train car. Photo by the author.

There isn't all that much of a view once you get past the first few stops. It's rows and rows of industrial buildings (such as the Seattle Fish Co.—"If it swims, we have it."). A fun part is that the train does blow its whistle before every road crossing, which the kids on board loved.

Interestingly enough, the rail line had people stationed at each crossing (which all had stopping arms). My guess is that they were there to ensure people stopped and that the guard arms were working properly.

The train line ends at Union Station, and there aren't currently any plans to expand it farther. Lastly, there were signs indicating other fare options if you weren't using the train to get to the airport but to commute.


Outside of Denver's Union Station. Photo by the author.

I do see issues with the ticket lines as the A Line catches on with visitors and Denverites. Even at Union Station, there were only a handful of kiosks. And the rail line name could cause some confusion. But overall, riding the A Line was a pleasant experience, and I'd use it again.

Links


National links: Our cities are growing

The population in nearly all of the US' big cities is increasing, Seattle's mayor wants to reward streets that aren't just for cars, and a new kind of wood could change building design. Check out what's happening around the country in transportation, land use, and other related areas!


Photo by theirmind on Flickr.

Growing cities: New US Census numbers show cities continuing to grow, with 19 of the top 20 cities gaining population over the last year. Only Chicago showed a decrease. Smaller cities like Austin saw rapid growth, while Detroit continues to decline. (USA Today)

Seattle and the "war on cars": Seattle's mayor wants to rank streets based on how many single-occupant vehicles use them, and make development decisions based on the rankings. A Seattle Times opinion writer says there's no denying that the city is engaged in a war on cars, but a former mayor says designing places just for cars leads to an inability to walk places, struggling retail and housing, and more crime and blight. (Seattle Times, Crosscut)

Invisible wood: Scientists have created a clear wood that's stronger than normal. It could one day be used in place of plastic building materials or glass for windows, as it should help lower both heating costs and fuel consumption. (CNN)

Transit progress in LA: A new stretch of track, called the Expo Line, started running between Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles last week. This isn't just a new line for LA's rail network (though the 7 new light rail stations are nice). It's an approach to reconnecting the region that's built on the original transit system. (Los Angeles Times)

Revamping transit advocacy: The American Public Transportation Association, which advocates for transit all over the US, has come under fire lately; it even lost by far its largest member, New York's MTA. One way the organization can move forward: focus less on supporting transit at all costs, and more on transit that riders want to use. (TransitCenter)

In simple terms: Urban sewer systems and watersheds are complex, so the Center for Urban Pedagogy (n. the method and practice of teaching) created a diorama to explain them. The teaching tool won a national design award from the Smithsonian's Cooper Hewitt Museum, and is just the latest project from an organization that helps people, especially those who may not be able to read or speak English, understand the world around them. (Smithsonian Magazine)

Quote of the Week

"When I was 13, I built a very intricate Lego city that suffered a huge tragedy when it was accidentally hit with a vacuum cleaner. As I rebuilt the buildings I created memorials with plaques that I printed out on my dot matrix printer commemorating The Great Vacuum Incident of 1988. Legos didn't make me love architecture, but they gave my love of architecture a place to develop." - Renowned architect Mark Kushner discussing how adult architects play with Legos. (Fast Company Design)

Transit


Metro doesn't have four tracks. That's not why maintenance is a problem.

"Yet from the start, Metro was saddled with two structural flaws. First, each line runs on just two tracks—New York City's subway generally has four—which makes it difficult to perform maintenance while still shuttling commuters."


Photo by Andrew d'Entremont on Flickr.

That's part of a detailed profile of Paul Wiedefeld and Metro's current struggles in TIME Magazine, the rest of which is excellent but unfortunately behind a paywall. But in the above excerpt, reporter Alex Altman repeats a very common canard about Metro, that having two tracks instead of the four of many New York subway lines is a major flaw.

This pops up in article after article about Metro, though rarely if ever sourced to a specific transportation expert. Instead, it's just something that every reporter "knows"—even though it's largely false.

Frederick Kunkle said something similar in a May 13 blog post:

Metro riders will probably have to pay for Metro's past sins, including the original sin of designing an ambitious regional subway with only two tracks.
False.

We heard the same from unnamed reporters at Agence France-Presse:

But the system was created with two chinks that have proven costly as the subway expanded to keep pace with the metropolitan area's population growth, and money for repairs and upkeep became increasingly scarce.

First, while other subway systems in America were built with three or four tracks, Washington's has just two. This was done to save money.

Incorrect.

Other articles, like in the Associated Press, the Washington Post, and ABC7 also mention the 4-track issue and often compare DC to New York, though they don't make the outright incorrect statements of the others.

What is true

1. Metro does have only two tracks on all its lines.

2. This was a deliberate decision, partly because more tracks would have cost more. George Mason history professor Zachary Schrag, the guy who literally wrote the book on Metro, explains that planners thought about making more tracks, but chose not to because it would have been too expensive, and given limited resources, they wanted to build more lines instead.

3. Having more tracks would make maintenance less painful. On New York's four-track lines, the subway system is able to shut down one or two tracks for a weekend and keep two-way service running, though people at some stations may not get trains or might only get them in one direction.

What is false

"Other subway systems in America were built with three or four tracks" (from the AFP article). This is almost entirely false. As Matt Johnson explained back in 2009 (the first time we discussed this), there are only three US subway systems with express tracks: New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

New York has a lot of express tracks, and since so many people are familiar with the New York subway, it's likely why people keep asking about the issue. Otherwise, Matt wrote, "In Philadelphia, the Broad Street Subway includes express trackage for most of its length. The Chicago L offers express service on the Purple Line during rush periods (and a short stretch of the Red south of Belmont)." That's it.

There are a few places where other systems have multiple lines that converge for a transfer, like around BART's MacArthur station in Oakland, but that's just a short bit.


Two track line in Chicago. Photo by Jason Mrachina on Flickr.

Worldwide, even, four-track subways are the exception rather than the rule. A few pieces of lines in London have four tracks, but other cities do not. Paris's extensive Métro is all two-track lines. Two lines, the #8 and #9, run together in a 4-track subway for four stations, and the RER regional rail has some sections with more than two tracks, but Paris has more miles of 2-track lines than Washington, and most US and world cities are all 2-track lines.

Resilience isn't why some systems have more tracks

Lines with more tracks aren't that way for redundancy, but rather capacity: they make it possible to fit twice the trains along the same avenue. In only the densest places in the world, like New York, is that sensible, and even so, most cities don't do it.

Instead of making 4-track lines, what world cities with better transit systems than Washington enjoy is just more lines, period. You can shut down a line much more easily when there's another one nearby. Back to New York, for instance, the tunnels between Manhattan and other boroughs are 2-track, but there are many parallel ones.

If the A train is under repair, the trains could travel on the F line instead. When the L tunnel has to be shut down for Sandy-related repairs, it'll be horrible for residents of Williamsburg and Bushwick, but at least they can transfer to the G train to go around to another East River crossing.

When Chicago shut down its Red Line for months, it was able to set up bus service to get people to the parallel Green. Fewer parts of the DC Metro have alternate lines nearby.

More tracks? How about more lines

If the builders of the Washington Metro had had more money, they should have done just what Schrag said they already wanted to do: build more lines, not more tracks. More lines would make transit closer to more people but could also offer redundancy.

In the core, it would have been better to separate the Blue and Orange, or Yellow and Green, into separate, nearby subways. Metro has, at various times, suggested plans to do that. Such a layout would allow rerouting those trains onto the other line in the event of night or weekend shutdowns (and make room for more trains during rush).

While the articles above didn't talk about express service, a related complaint about Metro is that it doesn't have express trains. Actually, the truth is more that it has nothing but expresses. Schrag writes, "The wide spacing of stations in the suburbs make them the equivalent of express lines elsewhere. Rather, Metro lacks the slow, hyper-local routes like the Broadway Local in New York City, which stops every few blocks to serve the tens of thousands people in apartment buildings."

There's no doubt Metro has maintenance problems. But we can't blame them on the system having only two tracks. Other systems keep up maintenance with only two tracks. It's simply not true that building two tracks is "the original sin of Metro" or one of "two structural flaws."

Rather than bringing up the issue about two tracks over and over, news articles would do better to talk about ways Metro is falling short of all the world's 2-track train systems which operate and maintain themselves better.

Links


Worldwide links: California's crisis cause

According to California's governor, his state's housing problem isn't that it's not spending enough on affordable housing, but rather that it's way too hard to get a building permit. China is building lots of subway systems, and Jane Jacobs may not have paid enough attention to infrastructure. Check out what's happening around the world in transportation, land use, and other related areas!


Photo by Travis Wise on Flickr.

It's the permits: California Governor Jerry Brown wants to reduce how long it can take to build new housing in his state. He says there's already plenty of money going toward affordable housing, and that the real focus should be on making local permitting processes less lengthy. (Los Angeles Times)

Smaller metros get more metros: China has been on an subway building frenzy. 26 cities have systems, while 39 others have projects approved. The Chinese Government also recently changed the rules to allow cities with more than 1.5 million people to build new systems. The old minimum was 3 million. (Reuters)

Disadvantaged cities: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf says that state regulations across the country are hostile toward cities. With his state's budget discussions approaching, Wolf said the state has too often left cities to fund themselves, giving residents raw deals on things like school funding and utility rates. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Missing infrastructure: Jane Jacobs has taught us a lot about how to build great places, where walking around is easy. But she may have also had a a blind spot, as she often neglected to talk about systems and infrastructure, like transit and water pipes, that stitch neighborhoods together. (Common Edge)

Transit mapping tech: A few years ago, Tiffany Chu and some friends put together a program that would allow transit planners to map out routes and immediately see the impact of those decisions based on data. Today, Remix is the toast of planners everywhere who want an easier way to get more people to ride the bus. (Curbed)

The disappearing dive: Dive bars are disappearing at a rapid pace. At the same time, it's increasingly common to see bars that claim to be dives, but are actually washed out versions of the real thing. Many blame the gentrification while others say it's just pure economics, as $2 bottles won't pay the rent. (Eater)

Transit Trends

In this episode of Transit Trends, my co-host and I sat down with Iain Macbeth of Transport for London to discuss how the information from a connected car can improve transportation systems worldwide.

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