Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Comprehensive listing of transit construction projects in Transport Politic

Transport Politic is the nation's leading blog when it comes to deep consideration of transit planning, funding, and the ins and outs of actual projects.

Yonah's first post of 2013, "Openings and Construction Starts Planned for 2013" lays out the major transit projects (fixed rail, stations, BRT) in the US and Canada for the next few years.

He also points out that transit construction projects in the US face a two-pronged threat from likely reductions in the federal budget and monies available to transit shrink as part of the failure to raise the federal gasoline excise tax--as funding from the US Department of Transportation contributes to most major local transit projects and pays for 50% or more of the total costs of some.

From the post:

Under the just-inked bipartisan compromise to head off the fiscal cliff, transportation funding will not be affected in the short term. But an 8% reduction in federal discretionary spending (the "sequester") -- a threat that has yet to be neutralized -- remains official policy and will be enforced on March 1st if no compromise is reached. That 8% cutback would reduce funding for the New Starts program, which funds most major new transit expansion projects, by $156 million in 2013 alone. Payments to the Transportation Trust Fund, which provides funding for transit maintenance programs and the purchase of new buses and trains (as well as money for highway projects), will decline by $471 million in the same period.

This is no phantom menace. Congressional Republicans in the U.S. House have demonstrated a deep-seeded desire to cut federal spending. The Obama Administration and Democrats in the Senate have shown themselves willing to compromise to a significant extent, and transportation is unlikely to be spared. The result could be significant cutbacks in funding -- cutbacks that states and cities are unlikely to make up with their own revenues. Investments from Washington make transit expansion possible.

Sometime in the next month, I plan to write a "counterfactual" entry opining about what a pro-city Republican agenda might look like, if in the face of defeat in the November Presidential Election, the Republican Party is truly serious about re-booting its message and platform and becoming more relevant to cities and suburbs.

(Frankly I think it might be a tough slog, but there are some interesting Republican Mayors and Governors out there who are pro-livability and pro-Smart Growth.  Hell, Mitt Romney as Governor was actually just as good as Parris Glendening, former Governor of Maryland, when it comes to smart growth.)

Dealing with transit as a legitimate and co-equal mode that is particularly effective for cities and suburbs has to be an element of a Republican Party reboot.

To them, cities where transit is successful, like New York City--even though it has a Republican Mayor--and San Francisco are seen as progressive outliers that aren't examples relevant to anywhere else in the country.

The rural bias of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives makes it very difficult for them to see either cities and/or transit (or biking for transportation) as relevant, realistic, and vital.

To them, cities are for poor people and people of color and transit is a service of last resort for poor people who can't afford to buy cars (e.g., Vehicles for Change), not a way forward for optimal mobility and urban livability and sustainability.

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At 10:28 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Given that NYC hasn't been run by Democrats since, oh, 1993, and Joe Lhota is heads and shoulders above any D candidate, I'd say NYC is already a model.

At 10:38 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I was thinking about that. It's a weird hybrid/outlier on this issue though.

wrt Lhota, I guess that means Ray Kelly won't run for Mayor...

At 9:54 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

I'm not really sure NYC is such an outlier.

I just finished Part III, and I strongly suspect Belmont is delighted with with innovations such as stop and frisk, means testing welfare, and charter schools.

Transit? Well, yes, I see your point about the national republican party. But all parties are both national and local, and local Republicans can still be transit friendly -- even McDonnel with train service.


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