Urban Issues

Megabus – King of the Road


In recent years there’s been a resurgence in intercity bus travel, driven by the rise of low cost, non-stop service linking tier one cities like New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC with other regional hubs in their surrounding areas. This is a lively and diverse market, particularly on the east coast, with providers like Megabus, Bolt Bus, Greyhound, and a host of so-called “Chinatown” buses.  read more »

Dulles Metrorail Silver Line Vs Bus Rapid Transit

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Long overdue rapid transit service from Washington DC to Dulles airport is now under construction. The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, known as the Silver Line, may seem like it was an obvious choice as a way to improve the region's public transportation. Construction began in March 2009, and service is expected to begin by 2013. As those who have used bus service from the DC area to the airport can attest, the current system — a regular city bus equipped with luggage racks — is inadequate. The buses are low capacity, and are not designed for highway driving.  read more »

Urban Violence Abroad: An Arab Spring and a British Autumn?


Treating urbanisation as some sort of homogeneous movement, a driver of an increasingly interdependent world of shared values, behaviour, and prosperity is to oversimplify.  There may be some common drivers, but urbanisation in the 21st century is likely to be quite different from urbanisation in the 20th century.  Suggesting a universal approaches to governing, managing and planning cities is providing answers without knowing the questions.   read more »

The U.K. Riots And The Coming Global Class War


The riots that hit London and other English cities last week have the potential to spread beyond the British Isles. Class rage isn’t unique to England; in fact, it represents part of a growing global class chasm that threatens to undermine capitalism itself.  read more »

Who Lost the Middle Class?


Forty years from now, politicians, writers, and historians may struggle to understand how America, once the quintessential middle-class society, became as socially stratified as Europe or even Brazil. Should that dark scenario come to pass, they would do well to turn their attention first to New York City and New York State, which have been in the vanguard of middle-class decline.

It was in mid-1960s New York—under the leadership of a Barack Obama precursor, Hollywood-handsome John Lindsay—that the country’s first top-bottom political coalition emerged. In 1965, Gotham had more manufacturing jobs than any other city in the country.  read more »

Biggest Boomer Towns


The boomer generation, spawned (literally) in the aftermath of the Second World War, will continue to shape the American landscape well into the 21st Century. They may be getting older, but these folks are still maintaining their power. Those born in the first ten years of the boomer generation  — between 1945 and 1955 — number 36 million, and they will continue to influence communities and real estate markets across the country, especially as they contemplate life after kids and retirement.  read more »

Commercial Real Estate: Shrinking to Fit

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We are going to need less commercial real estate in the future, at least on a per-unit-of-population basis. Advances in communications technology are causing profound and sometimes unanticipated changes in our lives.

Retail Markets
The coming change is most obvious in retail markets. Americans are increasingly shopping online. However, we’ve really just started to scratch the surface. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2009 E-Stats report issued in May, 2011, E-commerce only accounted for 3.99 percent of U.S. retail sales in 2009.  read more »

Queensland’s Future: Diverse and Dispersed


I was recently asked to outline my thoughts on how the Queensland urban landscape might look 40 to 50 years from now.  Go on, you can laugh.  I did too.  It’s hard enough to forecast the next 12 months, let alone two generations away, but I’ve given it a go, of sorts, so here it is:  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Los Angeles


Los Angeles has grown more than any major metropolitan region in the high income world except for Tokyo since the beginning of the twentieth century, and also since 1950.  In 1900, the city (municipality, see Note) of Los Angeles had little over 100,000 people and ranked 36th in population in the nation behind Allegheny, Pennsylvania (which has since merged with Pittsburgh) and St. Joseph Missouri (which has since lost more than one quarter of its population).  read more »

The Shifting Geography of Black America


Black population changes in various cities have been one of the few pieces of the latest Census to receive significant media coverage.  The New York Times, for example, noted that many blacks have returned to the South nationally and particularly from New York City.  The overall narrative has been one of a “reverse Great Migration.”  But while many northern cities did see anemic growth or even losses in black population, and many southern cities saw their black population surge, the real story actually extends well beyond the notion of a monolithic return to the South.  read more »