Subways, Strikes, and Slowdowns

Michael L. Anderson

Public transit receives a large share of transportation funds but accounts for only 1 percent of passenger miles traveled nationwide. Nevertheless, public transit subsidies remain popular in many areas. For example, in 2008, 67 percent of Los Angeles County voters approved a half-cent sales tax to raise $26 billion for transit over 30 years.

2017-07-06T17:47:03+00:00 Categories: ACCESS 51, Spring 2017|Tags: , |

A Driving Factor in Moving to Opportunity

Evelyn Blumenberg and Gregory Pierce

In 1992, the US Congress authorized the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) housing voucher program to operate in five large metropolitan areas: Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. The MTO program represented a radical departure from standard housing assistance programs, which clustered participants in very poor neighborhoods that offered few opportunities. Running counter to previous policy, MTO used an experimental framework to assess how moving households on assistance to low-poverty neighborhoods can affect their employment, education, and household income. Under the program, residents were randomly assigned into three groups. The first group received housing vouchers that could be used only in neighborhoods with poverty rates under 10 percent. The second group received similar housing vouchers but with no neighborhood restrictions. The third group did not receive vouchers but remained eligible for public housing and other social programs.

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Robert Cervero

As a transportation researcher, I sometimes get asked what falls into the Census’s “other” category of how people get to work—hoverboarding, rollerblading, kayaking? In Ottawa, three percent of commuters ice-skate to work in winter months. In other cities, notably big, dense ones with awful traffic and jam-packed subways, an increasingly popular way to commute is running. Lacing up running shoes and hoofing it to work is arguably the most active form of active transport and helps meet the Surgeon General’s recommended 30 or more minutes of physical activity per day. Combining two things we need to do—exercising and getting to work—can pay off. Research shows active commuters cut their odds of obesity by 50 percent.

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Unraveling the Modal Impacts of Bikesharing

Susan Shaheen and Elliot Martin

Public bikesharing has emerged as one of the latest transportation innovations, transforming North American cities and providing people with more transportation options. Much attention has focused on how new bikesharing programs fit in with the largely auto-oriented transportation culture. But there is another fascinating question: how do bikesharing programs influence the travel patterns of their members with respect to travel by rail, bus, and on foot?

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Does Transit-Oriented Development Need the Transit?

Daniel G. Chatman

Urban planners have invested a lot of energy in the idea of transit-oriented developments (TODs). Developing dense housing near rail stations with mixed land uses and better walkability is intended to encourage people to walk, bike, and take transit instead of driving. But TODs can also be expensive, largely because rail itself is expensive. In one study, the average cost for light rail construction was $61 million per mile in 2009 dollars.

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Suburban Transit in Mexico City

Erick Guerra

Over the past decade, governments and development agencies have invested significantly in high-capacity transit in Asian, Latin American, and African cities. Beijing’s subway system grew from just two lines in 2000 to one of the world’s largest metro systems today. Each year, a dozen new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines open in cities around the world. Concerns about economic competitiveness, congestion, sprawl, pollution, and accessibility for the poor and middle class motivate these investments.

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Transit and the “D” Word

Erick Guerra and Robert Cervero

Without high patronage, new rail investments incur large deficits and fail to deliver promised environmental and social benefits. A system with few passengers and a high price tag is, by most accounting, a poor investment economically, environmentally, and socially. Comparing the costs and the number of passenger-miles traveled for 54 American rail transit investments since 1970, we found wide variation in cost-effectiveness. The worst-performing system costs nearly 50 times more per passenger-mile than the best-performing. What factors distinguish the most successful transit investments?

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Thinking Outside the Bus

Hiroyuki Iseki, Michael Smart, Brian D. Taylor, and Allison Yoh

In an era of stretched tax revenues, shrinking public sector budgets, and partisan debates over the appropriate role and scale of government, investments in public transit systems have been increasing. While the Great Recession has recently squeezed many transit operating budgets, overall public capital and operating subsidies of transit systems have grown dramatically over the past decade. Why have transit expenditures grown when so many other facets of public expenditure have shrunk?

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Can Public Transportation Increase Economic Efficiency?

Matthew Drennan and Charles Brecher

In theory, public investments in mass transit can make urban economies more efficient by enhancing employers’ access to a larger labor pool at lower transport costs. Moreover, as first explained by Alfred Marshall, the concentration of economic activities in urban areas yields efficiency gains due to agglomeration economies. That is, each firm produces advantages that are shared by all firms located in the same area. The concentration of many businesses can thus produce many such external benefits. Can public transportation increase agglomeration economies?

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Falling Immigration Rates Mean Falling Transit Ridership

Evelyn Blumenberg and Alexandra Norton

From almost every angle, immigration generates interest and controversy. Scholars, pundits and policymakers regularly debate immigration and its effects: on culture, on jobs, on schooling. In particular, both academic and popular commentators have focused on whether immigration is associated with increases in unemployment, use of public benefits, or crime. Examinations of these questions have generally revealed that immigration has no effect, or that the effect, if present, is small. Even in the heated debate about immigration and employment, which receives the most popular attention, academics on both sides agree that the effects, be they negative or positive, are modest when compared to the economy as a whole.

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2017-05-26T23:39:20+00:00 Categories: ACCESS 37, Fall 2010|Tags: , |