Transportation

New York, Legacy Cities Dominate Transit Urban Core Gains

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Much attention has been given the increase in transit use in America. In context, the gains have been small, and very concentrated (see: No Fundamental Shift to Transit, Not Even a Shift). Much of the gain has been in the urban cores, which house only 14 percent of metropolitan area population.  read more »

Composite Traffic Congestion Index Shows Richmond Best

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It is important that traffic congestion be controlled sufficiently to facilitate a more competitive metropolitan economy. Each year, three organizations produce traffic congestion reports, Tom Tom, INRIX and the Texas Transportation Institute of Texas A&M University (TTI). These reports use  different methods to estimate the excess time lost in traffic congestion during peak travel periods (morning and evening week day "rush hours").     read more »

China's Ascent in World Transport

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After years of closing the gap with the United States, China built enough freeways in 2013 to amass the greatest length of freeways in the world. Between 2003 and 2013, China expanded its national expressway system, with interstate (motorway in Europe) standard roadways from 30,000 to 105,000 kilometers (18,000 to 65,000 miles). This compares to the 101,000 kilometers (63,000 miles) in the United States in 2012.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Philadelphia

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Philadelphia was America's first large city and served as the nation's capital for all but nine months between the inauguration of George Washington is the first president in 1789 and the capital transferred to Washington, DC in 1800.

Before the early 1900s, the United States Census Bureau had not developed a metropolitan area (labor market area) concept. However, the website peakbagger.com has attempted to define earlier metropolitan areas based on concepts similar to those used today. In the case of Philadelphia, this is important, because it was somewhat unique in having virtually adjacent, highly populated suburbs that make comparisons of municipal populations (the only population data available) misleading.  read more »

New Central Business District Employment and Transit Commuting Data

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Photographs of downtown skylines are often the "signature" of major metropolitan areas, as my former Amtrak Reform Council colleague and then Mayor of Milwaukee (later President and CEO of the Congress of New Urbanism) John Norquist has rightly said. The cluster of high rise office towers in the central business district (CBD) is often so spectacular – certainly compared with an edge city development or suburban strip center – as to give the impression of virtual dominance. I have often asked audiences to guess how much of a metropolitan area's employment is in the CBD. Answers of 50 percent to 80 percent are not unusual.  read more »

No Fundamental Shift to Transit: Not Even a Shift

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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is out with news of higher transit ridership. APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy characterizes the new figures as indicating "a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities.” Others even characterized the results as indicating "shifting consumer preferences." The data shows either view to be an exaggeration.

1935 and 2013  read more »

Work Access in the Non-centered San Francisco Bay Area

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The San Francisco Bay Area (San Jose-San Francisco combined statistical area or CSA) has a superior access to work systems, including its important work at home element. The freeway system provides primary access between all points, importantly supplemented by arterial streets, and accounts for nearly 70 percent of all work trips.  read more »

Urban Planning 101

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Former World Bank principal planner Alain Bertaud has performed an important service that should provide a much needed midcourse correction to urban planning around the world. Bertaud returns to the fundamentals in his "Cities as Labor Markets."  read more »

The Illusions of Charles Montgomery's Happy City (Part 2)

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This is the second of a two-part series discussing Charles Mongomery's Happy City. Read part one here.

‘The system that built sprawl’

Montgomery faces the hurdle of explaining why, if low-density suburbs cause unhappiness, so many millions of people, over so many decades, across several countries, flocked to that way of life. As he writes, ‘since 1940, almost all urban growth has actually been suburban.’ He must account for this fact, even though it means little to him personally. For the green-tinged intelligentsia, working and middle-class people are pawns who rarely think for themselves.        read more »

California's Potholed Road to Recovery

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California's economy may be on the mend, but prospects for continued growth are severely constrained by the increasing obsolescence of the state's basic infrastructure. Once an unquestioned leader in constructing new roads, water systems, power generation and building our human capital, California is relentlessly slipping behind other states, including some with much lower tax and regulatory burdens.

The indications of California's incipient senility can be found in a host of reports, including a recent one from the American Society of Civil Engineers, which gave the state a “C” grade.  read more »