Urban Issues

Creating a Pearl River Delta Megapolis, The Growth Story of the 21st Century

pearl-river.JPG

In Southern China, the Pearl River Delta is giving rise to an urban super-power in the first rank.

In 2005, the wealthiest metropolises were still led by the thriving urban agglomerations of the leading advanced economies in North America, Western Europe and Japan; that is, Tokyo, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris and London. The scale economies of these metropolises are as significant as those of many national economies. For instance, the estimated GDP of Tokyo and New York City, respectively, was not that different from the total GDP of Canada or Spain, whereas London’s estimated GDP was higher than that of Sweden or Switzerland.  read more »

The Compelling Case For The Cable Car

dale1.png

Say the words “cable car” and most people think of trolleys being towed up and down San Francisco’s hilly terrain. Most view them as a charmingly antiquated heritage system for the tourists, not as modern mass transit. But cable cars are making a comeback.

Today, cable cars are one of a family of technologies collectively called Cable Propelled Transit (CPT). New generations of CPT not only include cable cars, but aerial trams, gondolas and funiculars as well.  read more »

"A" is for Avenue

aveA.jpg

Pity poor Matamoras, PA, population 2,600, located on the Delaware River where Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey all come together. The town has only two named streets: Delaware Drive (parallel to the river), and Pennsylvania Ave. (perpendicular).

Other streets parallel to the river are numbered: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so on, up to 10th. The avenues, perpendicular to the river, start with Avenue A in the north, and continue to Avenue S, in the south. Pennsylvania Ave., the main drag, is between “K” and “L”.

What a boring little town!  read more »

The Transportation Community Braces for Continued Uncertainty

obama-trans.jpg

Recent game changing events — notably, the Massachusetts election depriving the Senate Democrats of a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority, and the projected record breaking $1.6 trillion deficit in the FY 2011 budget proposal — have introduced serious uncertainties into the President’s domestic agenda. The federal surface transportation program is no exception.  read more »

Atlanta: Ground Zero for the American Dream

marta.jpg

The Atlanta area has much to be proud of, though it might not be obvious from the attitudes exhibited by many of its most prominent citizens. For years, local planners and business leaders have regularly trekked to planning’s Holy City (Portland) in hopes of replicating its principles in Atlanta. They would be better saving their air fares.  read more »

Who's Dependent on Cars? Try Mass Transit

light-rail-track.jpg

The Smart Growth movement has long demonstrated a keen understanding of the importance of rhetoric. Terms like livability, transportation choice, and even “smart growth” enable advocates to argue by assertion rather than by evidence. Smart Growth rhetoric thrives in a political culture that rewards the clever catchphrase over drab data analysis, but often fails to identify the risks for cities inherent in their war against “auto-dependency” and promotion of large-scale mass transit to boost the “sustainability” of communities.  read more »

Reforming Anti-Urban Bias in Transportation Spending

rural-highway.jpg

State governments have to stop treating transportation like yet another welfare program.

Among urban and rural areas, who subsidizes whom?

It's methodologically difficult to measure net taxation, but the studies that have been done suggest that, contrary to the belief of some, urban areas are big time net tax donors. For example, a recent Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute study found that Indiana's urban and suburban counties generally subsidize rural ones.  read more »

Housing Unaffordability as Public Policy: The New Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey

housing-money.jpg

The just released 6th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey shows some improvement in housing affordability, especially in the United States and Ireland but a continuing loss of housing affordability, especially in Australia.  read more »

Phoenix, Put Aside Dreams of Gotham

phoenix.jpg

Now that Phoenix's ascendancy has been at least momentarily suspended, its residents are no doubt wondering what comes next. One tendency is to say the city needs to grow up and become more like East Coast cities or Portland, Ore., with dense urban cores and well-developed rail transit. The other ready option is always inertia - a tendency to wait for things to come back the way they were.

Neither approach will work in the long run.  read more »

The War Against Suburbia

suburbs.jpg

A year into the Obama administration, America’s dominant geography, suburbia, is now in open revolt against an urban-centric regime that many perceive threatens their way of life, values, and economic future. Scott Brown’s huge upset victory by 5 percent in Massachusetts, which supported Obama by 26 percentage points in 2008, largely was propelled by a wave of support from middle-income suburbs all around Boston. The contrast with 2008 could not be plainer.  read more »