More and more transport agencies are becoming owners
Welcome to “The Mobile City”, our weekly roundup of remarkable transportation developments.
Revenue-seeking transit agencies look to the land they own
Transit agencies are increasingly aggressive in leasing land they own in order to generate revenue and increase ridership, both of which have fallen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pew Charitable Trusts Stateline reports.
“The dramatic drop in user numbers across the country during the pandemic has really exposed the vulnerability of agency funding due to the close link with fare revenue,” Paul Supawanich, Associate Director of the National Association, told Stateline. of City Transportation Officials. “A lot of them say, ‘How can we be creative and see real estate development as an opportunity? “”
And that creative thinking produces some really big real estate deals. The article notes that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority announced in August that it had signed a lease agreement with a group of developers looking to build 1 million square feet of office, residential and commercial space on land which it owns near one of its stations in Virginia. , and the New Jersey Transit Corporation chooses a developer to transform 12 acres of land it owns in Woodbridge, near one of its busiest stations, into residences and commercial space.
The article also notes that some agencies have played the role of owner to promoters for years. The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is one of them. In 2013, it set up a development office focused on public transport in order to exploit the development opportunities around its stations. Today, the agency has 17 land leases with developers who have built nearly 200,000 homes, 2.6 million square feet of offices, 371,000 square feet of retail and nearly 2,400 parking spaces, and 18 other projects are in development.
MARTA spends $ 2 million per year to manage its real estate department, which produces $ 6 million per year in ground rent. In recent years, she has turned to producing housing on her land. The agency’s board requires that 20 percent of the units it produces be affordable, and in projects in economically struggling neighborhoods, the agency aims for an affordable ratio of 30 percent.
Baruch Feigenbaum, chief executive of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation, told Stateline the pandemic has started a fire under transit agencies that had previously been lukewarm at best about collecting land value that they have. “The pandemic has added a new emergency. Now it has become something that they are really focused on, ”he said. “Many had not benefited as much as they could from the transit-oriented development. They may have developed near a metro station or part of the land, but not all. “
Northlake LRT extension opens in Seattle
Seattle’s light rail system increased by three more stations on October 4, when the Sound Transit Northlake extension opened, My Ballard reports.
The mostly underground extension of the University of Washington station adds intermediate stations at University District and Roosevelt before climbing up to an elevated structure to reach its terminus at Northlake.
The extension is the last piece of the original light rail system that Seattle-area voters approved in 1996 with a voting measure that created Sound Transit and authorized a sales tax to help fund projects. It is also the first of several extensions slated to open over the next three years, which will triple the mileage of the light rail network from 22 to 62 and bring the system to Tacoma and Bellevue as well. These extensions are the product of the “Sound Transit 2” sales tax that voters approved in 2008; a third sales tax approved in 2016 will bring total light rail mileage to 116 and extend the network to Everett.
“This is a historic day and the start of three years that will transform the way people travel in our region,” said Kent Keel, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sound Transit and Member of the Board of University Place, Kent Keel. “Northgate Link will allow thousands of passengers to get to their destinations on time without sitting in terrible traffic. We are able to celebrate this milestone with the support of the Federal Transit Administration, our delegation to Congress and regional constituents who have approved the construction of a world-class transit system for our growing communities.
According to Sound Transit, the $ 1.9 billion, 4.3-mile-long extension was about $ 50 million under budget.
New York Governor withdraws all bets on LaGuardia Airtrain
Apparently, New York Governor Kathy Hochul is sympathetic to critics who called on her to disconnect the New York Port Authority and the planned New Jersey Airtrain connector to LaGuardia Airport (“The Mobile City”, September 8).
WPIX reports that when Hochul was asked directly if she thought the Airtrain project was a good idea, she replied:
“I am looking at all the options. The very idea of looking for alternatives does not mean that the same day I will say which alternative I want. I don’t feel obligated to accept what I have inherited.
Hochul asked the port authority to conduct a thorough review of alternative transit options to reduce car traffic and improve access to LaGuardia. Options include a bus lane and an extension of the N metro line.
Critics have called the $ 2 billion Airtrain project a bad solution to the problem, noting that it kicks passengers away from Manhattan before connecting to trains heading its way.
Business owners in northern Tulsa are driving the city to do away with cycle lanes; Chicago could use them in its black neighborhoods
Pine Street is a major east-west thoroughfare that runs through the heavily black north side of Tulsa, about a mile north of the Greenwood business district. Last year, the city of Tulsa added two cycle lanes on a four-mile stretch of the street, removing two lanes for cars.
Now, KTUL News Channel 8 reports, the city is reversing the change in response to complaints from business owners along the street.
Retailers complained that bicycle lanes increased congestion on the streets and made it more difficult for their customers to access their stores. In addition, said Paul Zachary, director of the city’s engineering services, congestion around George Washington Carver Middle School, near the west end of bike paths, and at level crossings has forced the city to “do something different” and eliminate cycle lanes.
A local business owner, Michael Manning, owner of Mack’s Wings, told KTUL that he sees the entire bike path project as a waste of taxpayer money that could have been avoided if the city had asked. to residents. “I would certainly wish that if they came up with other brilliant ideas, they would make a conscious effort to survey the community,” he said.
Studies have, however, shown that the lack of bicycle lanes is one of the factors in disproportionate contravention of black cyclists. A study published in Streetsblog Chicago found that black cyclists are fined for cycling illegally, grossly disproportionate to their share of the cycling population.
The study, titled “Biking Where Black”, was conducted by Professor Jesus Barajas of the University of California. He revealed that sidewalk tickets, which is illegal in Chicago for cyclists 12 and older, were issued eight times more often in predominantly black neighborhoods in the city than in predominantly white neighborhoods.
Barajas notes in his study that citations are also a legal form of stop-and-frisk; the article notes that the Chicago Police Department has been outspoken about using traffic police as a means of enabling searches for firearms in high crime neighborhoods. And the study also notes that the citation-issuing pattern has nothing to do with where bike-pedestrian crashes actually occur – these mostly occur in the wealthier white neighborhoods of the North Side.
In his report, Barajas writes: “Many curb bike tickets would not have been issued if the infrastructure associated with a better perception of safety had been available. With this in mind, cycling infrastructure could be seen as a tool to advance racial justice… a small but important measure of protection against police excesses.
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Next City contributor Sandy Smith is the home and real estate editor at Philadelphia cream magazine. Over the years, his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Investigator and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities dates back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations dates back this far.