Live from Honolulu: HART Rail, a Megaproject Failure in the Making


Typically very few people pay attention to the goings on in the small state of Hawaii. How bad can possibly things get there? Well, a lot of people recall Boston’s Big Dig, the nation’s largest infrastructure fiasco with a final price tag of about $15 billion. What if I tell you that tiny Honolulu is building a rail system that’s expected to cost at least one-half the cost of the Big Dig? On a per-capita basis it would be the nation’s largest infrastructure fiasco by far.  read more »

Urban Residents Aren’t Abandoning Buses; Buses Are Abandoning Them

mass-transit-bus-madison (1).jpg

“Pity the poor city bus,” writes Jacob Anbinder in an interesting essay at The Century Foundation’s website.  read more »

Traffic: Rome's Not-So-Smart Car Squeeze

Roman parking spot.jpg

Who would have thought that city planners in Oklahoma City would be more bike and pedestrian friendly, and better at taming car traffic, than those in Rome?  read more »

2014 Journey to Work Data: More of the Same


The major metropolitan area journey to work data is out, reported in the American Community Survey ‘s 2014 one year edition. The news is that there is not much news. Little has changed since 2010 despite all the talk about “peak car” and a supposed massive shift towards transit. Single occupant driving remains by far the largest mode of transport to work in the 53 major metropolitan areas (with over 1,000,000 population), having moved from 73.5 percent of commutes to 73.6 percent.  read more »

Public Transport’s Biggest Problem: The Public (That’s Us)


When’s the last time you heard some futurist or management guru suggest that in the future more of us will be working at the same desk doing routine tasks on a predictable working week schedule? No? That’s just one of many problems that advocates of limitless spending on public transport need to keep in mind in dealing with the issue of urban congestion.  read more »

How Commuters Get Railroaded by Cities


With more than $10 billion already invested, and much more on the way, some now believe that Los Angeles and Southern California are on the way to becoming, in progressive blogger Matt Yglesias’ term, “the next great transit city.” But there’s also reality, something that rarely impinges on debates about public policy in these ideologically driven times.

Let’s start with the numbers. If L.A. is supposedly becoming a more transit-oriented city, as boosters already suggest, a higher portion of people should be taking buses and trains. Yet, Los Angeles County – with its dense urbanization and ideal weather for walking and taking transit – has seen its share of transit commuting decline, as has the region overall.  read more »

Light Rail in the Sun Belt is a Poor Fit


There is an effective lobby for building light rail, including in cities such as Houston. But why build light rail? To reduce car use? To improve mobility for low-income citizens? This certainly seems a worthwhile objective, with the thousands of core-city, low-income residents whose transit service cannot get them to most jobs in a reasonable period of time.

ut rather than accept the flackery that accompanies these projects, maybe we should focus on effectiveness, judged by ridership, and the impact of such expensive projects on the transportation of the transit-dependent.  read more »

Who Should Pay for the Transportation Infrastructure?


Urban regions are significantly more important than any one city located within them. Housing, transportation, economy, and politics help produce uneven local geographies that shape the individual identities of places and create the social landscapes we inherit and experience. As such, decisions made within one city can ripple through the entire urban region. When affordable housing is systematically ignored by one city, neighboring cities become destinations for those who cannot afford higher housing costs.  read more »

The Green Urbanization Myth


Once a fringe idea, the notion of using technology to allow humanity to “decouple” from nature is winning new attention, as a central element of what the Breakthrough Institute calls “ecomodernism.” The origins of the decoupling idea can be found in 20th century science fiction visions of domed or underground, climate-controlled, recycling-based cities separated by forests or deserts.  read more »

Running The Numbers On Transport Options

Golden Gate traffic.jpg

Households are offered a great deal of advice which seems intended to dissuade them from using private, motorised transportation — that is, cars. Information about the negative fallout of car ownership — environmental and otherwise — has often been coloured with ethical overtones. Yet, despite those exhortations and the many well-known and indisputable reasons to cut back, extensive reliance on personal motor transport remains unchanged, if not growing.  read more »