5 modes
August 22, 2016, 2:58 pm
Filed under: density, streets, Transit | Tags: , , , , , , ,


best cities for transit
January 29, 2014, 5:34 pm
Filed under: Cities, density, streets, Transit | Tags: ,



federal infrastructure budget
January 7, 2014, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Energy, Transit | Tags: , ,

From Visaan Chakrabarti’s book a Country of Cities. While I don’t think high speed rail is as important as proper inner city public transportation and is a red herring that will divert funds from proper urban subway systems, this info graphic is illuminating. Look at how much we spend on roads which are radically less efficient that moving people by rail, and, in the real sense of the word, unsustainable.

Germans walk more
October 4, 2012, 12:40 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

It is true that Americans tend to inhabit lower density regions than people do in Europe, but as a study by transportation researcher Ralph Buehler and colleagues found, Germans who live in lower density regions travel by car about as much as Americans living in areas that are five times denser. Germans walk more for a range of reasons: better walking facilities, better connections with transit, better transit (which itself encourages more walking), stronger financial incentives (e.g., higher gas prices), better land-use decisions, and because it’s safer to walk in Germany than in the United States.

Tom Vanderbilt, Walking In America, Slate



planes, trains and automobiles
July 29, 2012, 12:54 am
Filed under: economy, Energy, Transit | Tags: , , , , ,

From the Regional Plan Association, more evidence all is not what it seems:  our governments subsidize all forms of transportation, including cars – (there go our bragging rights):

A common theme of U.S. political dialogue is that while highways are sustained by tolls and gas taxes, trains and other mass-transit systems are heavily subsidized by the government through tax revenue.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Federal, state and local governments have subsidized all modes of transportation since the birth of the nation. Tolls and dedicated taxes such as the gas tax have paid for only a small portion of our nation’s road system. In the past century, road and air transportation have received more government money than rail.

And, especially during the last century, government subsidies have favored cars and air travel over trains:

By comparison, the amount spent on train travel pales in comparison, unless you go back to the 19th century … But the record is very different in the 20th century, and in the last 100 years the amount of government money spent on railroads have been paltry compared with what is spent on roads and air travel. As government money has poured into air and roads, the once robust network of intercity passenger rail has shriveled to a skeletal framework.

A pitch is made for multi modal systems as an antidote to the mono-culture we more or less have with cars and roads:

If well designed, a transportation system does pay for itself through larger benefits to the economy and society. International experience and historic example in the U.S. has demonstrated that a multi-modal transportation system with many choices is far more flexible than putting all our eggs in one basket.

How come we still believe we are paying our own way when anything serious we read on the topic says the opposite?  Maybe we – a little desperately – need to cling to a sense of having done it on our own.  No one wants to admit to being on the dole – especially not when the top is down and the tunes are turned up and the girls are out.  Cars are about freedom and independence, not government handouts.

Maybe that is what it will take to get the multi modal system that seems to serve other people so well:  to finally admit that we aren’t paying for what we have, that the government is paying for most of it and that if it’s got to be a public service, then why not pay for something that is efficient and comprehensive and inclusive, and if it’s sexy that’s great, but if it’s not who cares, at least I can get around without the government paying for my gas.

The Public Money Behind Road, Rail and Air Travel, Osman Dadi and Alex Marshall, RPA

over 33 public transit projects in 2012
January 4, 2012, 5:11 am
Filed under: Cities, density, economy, Transit | Tags: , , ,

Here is a map showing the over 30 new municipal transit projects happening this year in the US and Canada.  These projects will make our cities more sustainable.  In the short term they will have an immediate and profound effect in reducing per capita energy consumption and pollution.  They will also have an immediate economic effect as municipalities can move more people with less money using public systems than they do with their gas and road expenditures.  The long term effects are also highly sustainable:  the intensification of buildings and activity around new stations will make socially and economically cohesive pedestrian based communities.  Win win.

Here are the details from the Transport Politic:

The uncertainty in Congress over the future of funding for the nation’s transportation programs has not yet hit local transit authorities, which will collectively spend billions of dollars this year on enhancements to their local public transportation networks. At least 33 metropolitan areas in the U.S. — and five in Canada — are planning to invest in new BRT, streetcar, light rail, metro rail, or commuter rail projects in 2012. Virtually every American project listed here is being at least partially funded through federal capital grants.

Opening and Construction Starts Planned for 2012, The Transport Politic

spending priorities have favored driving
November 14, 2011, 5:08 pm
Filed under: betaCITY, economy, Energy, Transit | Tags: , , , ,

Our government funds transportation systems that are inefficient.  Much of the funding patterns are deeply embedded in budgets that have remained intransigent for several generations.  Furthermore these government spending patterns have produced a deeply unsustainable – economically and environmentally – transportation system.

Today we are being told that our preferred systems of transport – euphemism for the car – need to get more efficient in order for us to achieve new sustainability standards.  But this isn’t true as is made eminently clear in the passage below.

Increased gas efficiencies are a superficial fix, which often lead to more consumption, not less and ultimately lead to a perpetuation of the expensive and unsustainable transport networks that we have built over the past 50 years.  To achieve real change, we would need to change the systems at their root and reduce how much we drive.

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