When it comes to transformative infrastructure, there’s no bigger tool for metro areas than local referendums. These regional votes give metropolitan areas an opportunity to sidestep the business-as-usual approach in Washington and initiate their own local vision--and to do so with resources typically counted in the billions. From major rail investments in Denver to a new central park in Oklahoma City, referendums are a vital way to reshape our metropolitan economies. And that’s exactly what makes yesterday’s vote in Atlanta so troubling for that region’s future.
As the nation continues its anemic economic recovery, media outlets and researchers have begun looking at the employer side of the jobs equation. Widespread reports have covered the inability of many firms to fill their open vacancies, with some suggesting a skills mismatch and others citing lagging demand. Other research assesses how falling recruitment intensity may explain the unfilled openings. But one missing explanation is the role of transportation in connecting jobs and people.
Trash. Just the sound of the word brings to mind rotten food, mountainous landfills, and general noxiousness. But what if a city turned this image on its head? What if trash became a city resource? What if landfills became a relic of the past? This is the exact effort underway in Vienna, Austria.
“Smart cities” is the urban buzz phrase of the last few years, and fans often turn to European cities for inspiration. From Amsterdam’s bike lanes to Copenhagen’s wind power, from Barcelona’s 22@ innovation district to Berlin’s dramatic redevelopment, European examples abound.
With today’s release of the president’s 2013 budget, media types of all kinds will start to draft hypotheticals about what will or won’t happen.* But within the transportation portion, there’s one proposal that contains little mystery. And in this case, it’s the president’s own pen that will cause one of his aviation goals to wait at least four years. Just last week, Congress addressed aviation and delivered a major piece of bipartisan legislation--and all signs point towards the president signing it in short order.
After more than 20 temporary extensions and a near-complete agency shutdown, the country is finally on the doorstep of long-term aviation legislation. Cue the applause. They also didn’t skimp on the impact, authorizing $64 billion in investment over four years. And like with most pieces of bipartisan legislation, there are elements for everyone to love and hate. But for us, it’s what’s missing that’s the most aggravating. Let’s start with what legislators did include.
USA Today always makes a point to cover national trends in transportation, and Larry Copeland and Paul Overberg’s piece last week is no exception. “Economy, gas prices make Americans drive less” is an excellent summary of the recent changes in vehicle miles traveled, or VMT. The general story is this: Americans have sustained annualized driving drops for six consecutive months, the longest sustained drop since 2008. This also comes at a time when the country showed positive economic growth--2 percent annualized growth in the third quarter--and a string of positive, private sector job reports.
Over the past few months, we’ve been talking about transit’s role in getting Americans to jobs. Most of our analysis summarizes the situation for entire metropolitan areas, or the cities and suburban areas within them. But what’s in it for you and where you live? Is transit available in your home neighborhood? And if so, how many jobs can it help you reach within 45 minutes? 60 minutes?
Chances are you're like 91 percent of American households, you own a car. And it’s no wonder. With ever-growing distances between jobs and housing, how else could you reach all the places you need to go? This is certainly my family’s story. We both take transit to work every day, live in a dense, buzzworthy neighborhood--and yet we still own a vehicle. It just makes weekend errands and out-of-town trips that much easier. But what about the 7.5 million American households in large metropolitan area that don’t have access to a car? How do they get around?
The FAA furloughs continue … and I can’t help but get fired up by the Essential Air Service (EAS) portion of the equation. Again, we’re talking about a 2,300-seat program as a major reason 4,000 federal employees are currently missing paychecks. While we all continue to wait for Congress to do something, here are some examples of the program’s inefficiencies. On the positive side we have service to Crescent City, Calif. Positioned near the border with Oregon, this picturesque town was named after the idyllic crescent shape of the town’s beach. Or at least so-says Wikipedia.