Urban Issues

Transit’s Precipitous Decline

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Transit ridership in the first quarter of 2017 was 3.1 percent less than the same quarter in 2016, according the American Public Transportation Association’s latest ridership report. The association released the report without a press release, instead issuing a release complaining about the House Appropriations bill reducing funding for transit.  read more »

Deep Ellum

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I recently wrote about the need to embrace reality when it comes to land use regulation, culture, politics, and economics. My interpretation can seem a bit… dark. It’s not my intention to discourage people looking to make a positive difference in their communities. I’ve just seen how things tend to play out and the process doesn’t exactly favor mom and pop operations that are juggling day jobs, raising kids, and working on limited budgets.  read more »

Should Transit Fares Cover Operating Costs?

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Maryland has long had a state law requiring transit systems to collect enough fares to cover at least 35 percent of their operating costs. While it is admirable to set a target, this particular target is disheartening for two reasons.  read more »

Can the Chicago White Sox Help Turn Around the South Side?

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As a displaced Detroit Tigers fan who adopted the Chicago White Sox as my team, I often wonder how our city's other team, the Cubs, became an integral institution in the remaking of our city, while the White Sox have not. I published a piece at my Forbes site some time ago that detailed my thoughts on how the Cubs facilitated that transition.  read more »

Moving Away from Toronto and Montréal

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The latest Statistics Canada data indicates that people are leaving Toronto and Montréal in large numbers since the 2011 census. Even so, both metropolitan areas continued to grow through the 2016 census as a result of net international migration and the natural increase of births over deaths (Figure 1). It turns out that Canada’s urban pattern is much more like that of the US, as well as other high-income countries, than many may suppose.  read more »

Meet Marble

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I’ve lived in this neighborhood for so long that I’ve grown used to tech start ups beta testing their schemes on my doorstep. I remember the first time I saw a car drive by with a huge furry pink mustache strapped to the front grill between the headlights. That was the start of Lyft. I have a clear memory from 2008 when a friend rented her apartment out on a new internet platform. That was Airbnb. Back in the late 1990s during the dot com bubble there was a start up that would deliver everything from milk to condoms via bicycle courier.  read more »

Want to be Green? Forget Mass Transit. Work at Home.

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Expanding mass-transit systems is a pillar of green and “new urbanist” thinking, but with few exceptions, the idea of ever-larger numbers of people commuting into an urban core ignores a major shift in the labor economy: More people are working from home.  read more »

Urban Talent Sheds Say a Lot About Cities

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Jim Russell pointed me as the workforce report program that LinkedIn runs.  They use their data to show trends in 20 major job markets.

For each market they track, they put together a map of the 10 cities that market gains the most workers from and the ten in loses the most workers too.  read more »

The Grenfell High-Rise Fire: A Litany of Failures?

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At this writing, the London (Kensington) Grenfell high-rise fire has taken a confirmed 58 lives, with an unknown number missing and many more sent to hospitals. The 24 story low income housing tower block caught fire on Wednesday, June 14. It was virtually all consumed, as shown in the photograph above.  read more »

The Superstar Gap

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The biggest challenge facing many cities in transitioning to the knowledge economy is a shortage of “A” talent, especially true superstars.

All “talent” isn’t created equal. Crude measures such as the percentage of a region with college degrees, or even graduate degrees, don’t fully capture this. It is disproporationately the top performers, the “A” players and superstars that make things happen.  read more »