Reconnecting America: Integrating Transportation Systems and the Communities They Serve


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Mariia Zimmerman
Vice President For Policy
Reconnecting America

Reconnecting America is a national non-profit organization working to integrate transportation systems and the communities
they serve with the goal of generating lasting public and private returns, improving economic and environmental efficiency, and
giving consumers more housing and mobility choices. Reconnecting America provides the public and private sectors with an impartial, fact-based perspective on development-oriented transit and transit-oriented development, and seeks to reinvent the planning and delivery system for building regions and communities around transit and walking rather than solely around the

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  • ( Left) The traditional view is the city generates more emissions than surrounding areas (Right) In reality, emissions per capita are much lower in the city In 2006, transit saved an estimated 3.4 billion gallons of gasoline in the US. Transit reduced global warming emission by nearly 26 million metric tons. In New York State alone, transit avoided 11.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution --- more than was produced by the entire economies of RI, VT or DC!
  • American want more housing choices but they also want more transportation choices. There’s been an explosion of interest in transit across the country. Because the demand for federal funding far exceeds available money, and because the federal review process is very costly and time-consuming, a growing number of regions are finding ways to fund transit locally. Many are working with the private sector to raise money for new lines and stations, and I’ll tell you more about that later. Denver, Austin, Houston, the San Francisco Bay Area, Charlotte, Atlanta, New York City, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. are all either striking out on their own or partnering with the private sector.
  • Pittsburgh from 42K HH in 2000 to 98K HH demand in 2030
  • Commuter Rail Experiencing 2 nd Highest Ridership Growth Rates (after light rail UP 32% Since 1995 Up 5.2% in 2 nd Q 2008 3,500+ existing stations in 27 regions with “fixed-guideway transit” 630 additional stations planned in 15 regions with new systems 45 members of the national Community Streetcar Coalition Private sector is contributing to transit construction Funding can’t keep pace with plans
  • Traditional neighborhoods are developed for traditional families. 21st century neighborhoods need to accommodate diversity. People want different kinds of housing today -- lofts and live-work spaces, condos, townhomes, row houses. This is the kind of housing that’s hot in Los Angeles today. Downtown L.A. is the new hot residential neighborhood, even though there isn’t a single grocery store downtown because the only people who have been living there in the last 50 years are homeless. There are 150 projects in development in downtown, and 90 of them include a residential element. 26 are loft projects -- the Central City Association anticipates that 10,000 renters and buyers will tour downtown this weekend for its annual open house tour.
  • Transit operations spending provides a direct infusion to the local economy. 570 jobs are created for each $10 million invested in the short run. 59 communities across the U.S. that face job cuts, service reductions and fare hikes, but will receive no assistance under the current recovery proposals before Congress to prevent these painful cuts. Together, these systems are responsible for more than 20 million trips each day by everyday Americans. Map is continuously updated and available at:
  • -everyone feels it Lots of discussion about change What kind of change are we talking about? - and why now? – this first
  • Era of cheap gasoline is over - Americans are hurting - older and rural Americans are stranded – people we know and pieces in the news about the older couple in a rural area who is not going to needed doctor’s visit because the gas cost is too high Families cancelling trips, trying to figure out how to cut their gas costs because it is eating away at their household budget Our foreign policy has a strangle hold on our economy Time of opportunity too: Demographics are changing – RCLC study from last year- more than 30% of all households today would move to a closer in, more compact neighborhood where they can walk places – IF THEY COULD AFFORD IT – that was demand before gas prices went up By 2040 – more than 3/4 th of all households will be without kids – empty nesters and singles or couples without kids – more likely to want town center, more diverse kinds of homes. Highway Trust Fund is broke – not enough money for the next year System is broken – states are not keeping up what they already have – crumbling infrastructure – tragedy of the MN bridge last year – just waiting to happen elsewhere
  • Create jobs - from highway maintenance and repair to public transit upgrades to green housing and neighborhood construction. Build a world-class rail network — both between cities and within them — that links our communities, transports people and goods more smoothly and makes our economy more competitive. Protect what we built – maintain what we have and fix that before we build any new roads. Help people drive less, avoid unpredictable gas prices, get healthy and stay active in their own neighborhoods through expanded construction of public transit, bicycle routes, and safe sidewalks to walk on. Set and enforce national transportation standards, but empower local communities to decide what is necessary to meet those goals as well as the needs of its neighborhoods and residents.
  • Portland Streetcar generated approximately 17 times the public investment in private investment.
  • Regions are NETWORKS of CORRIDORS Corridors present different market opportunities Corridors can change over time with growth More research needed Density thresholds Market dynamics Ridership implications VMT Impacts
  • Photos at the bottom show women who have just gotten off a bus in a suburban area, trying to cross the street to get to a mall where they are trying to shop. Details in TOD are critical in accruing benefits.
  • Greenbuild Expo 2007: TOD and Sustainable Urbanism 01/25/13
  • 7,248 housing units built 4.6 million sq ft of office Record # of building permits issued 7 years in a row Portland met its 20yr. housing goal in 7 years on 1/10th the land Properties closest to streetcar developed at 90% of permitted density
  • Land value around station up 81% in 10 years 8% of county land generates 33% of county revenues 50% of residents take transit to work, 73% walk to stations Modest increase in traffic Surrounding single-family homes preserved
  • Reconnecting America: Integrating Transportation Systems and the Communities They Serve

    1. 1. Integrating Transportation Systems and the Communities They Serve Mariia Zimmerman, Reconnecting America New York Public Transit Association, June 11, 2009
    2. 2. Reconnecting AmericaRemaking the Mission of Transit for Communities and the Environment CTOD• Creating a national marketplace for TOD, working with cities, transit agencies, developers, investors + communities• Technical assistance, research, + policy reform• On-line Clearinghouse of TOD + Transit Best Practices T4America• An alliance of business, housing, environment, development, labor, health, ageing and transportation interests for transportation investments that are economically sound, respond to markets and improve the lives of people• Campaign Focus on the Next Federal Transportation Bill
    3. 3. 2009: It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times
    4. 4. • Transit increasingly being seen as legitimate tool to save the planet
    5. 5. National Transportation Objectives in Support of Transit•Economiccompetitiveness andSystem Efficiency• Equal Access toImproved Options• System Condition andConnectivity• Safety and Public Health• Energy Security• Environmental andClimate Protection
    6. 6.
    7. 7. AMERICANS WANT MORE TRANSPORTATION CHOICETRANSIT IS IN ABUILDINGBOOM,CREATINGMOREOPPORTUNITIESFOR TOD • 3,500 existing stations in 33 regions with “fixed-guideway” transit; DENVER’S UNION STATION • 700 additional stations being built and 15 regions with new systems; • Many regions are deciding that rather than wait for federal funding they will tax themselves to build transit • The private sector is contributing to streetcar systems, new light and heavy rail stations and new rail lines.
    8. 8. Demand for Walkable Urbanism or TOD will Represent At Least 1/3 of the US Housing Market by 2030
    9. 9. Transit Ridership at 40 Year High!Transit Ridership Year High!Up 32% Since 1995
    10. 10. Development Industry Responds• ULI/PriceWaterhouseCoopers “emerging trends” real estate report ranked TOD as one of the best bets for investors 4 years in a row• Many developers re-orienting towards infill projects• Building permits in cities growing as overall share over last decade, sometimes dramatically.
    11. 11. • BUT …. Same issues that have created national economic crisis threaten transit
    12. 12. Rising Health Care Costs
    13. 13. Transit Agencies Caught in AIG and Market Collapse
    14. 14. State and Local Budget Crisis
    15. 15. Rises and VolatilePrice Increases inCapital andOperating Costs
    16. 16. United States of Transit CutsTransit agencies employed over 370,000 workers in 2006.
    17. 17. The Trillion Dollar Question: How do we pay for it all?
    18. 18. And New York State!America at a Crossroads
    19. 19. Economy Energy Concerns In 2009, we have a unique opportunity for change in the next transportation cycle.Demographics A Broke & Broken System
    20. 20. Goals for the Next Federal Bill Empower Local Communities to Meet National GoalsBuild a World Class 21st Transportation Network Grow the Economy and Create JobsGive Americans the Transportation Options They Need Ensure Safety & Improved Public Health Outcomes for AllAchieve Energy Security and Restore Climate Stability
    21. 21. Creating Success at Local Levels• Planning for transit and TOD needs to maximize the impact of public transit investment• Need coordinated plan for success, so that everyone can benefit• Need for a regional transit and land use vision that can guide long-term implementation.
    22. 22. Communities Supporting TransitSynergy between land use and transitdelivers:• Truly Affordable Housing and Access to Jobs• Expanded Travel, Shopping and Housing Choices• Regional Connections and Less Need to Drive• Community Revitalization and Placemaking• Environmental and Air Quality Improvements
    23. 23. Value to Transportation SystemSynergy between transit andland use that delivers:• Increased Ridership and Revenue• Regional Connections and Efficiency• Value Creation and Financial Return• Public Support for Expansion Projects
    24. 24. Regional Strategies Emerging Denver, CO
    25. 25. Transit SystemSize Affects TOD Performance• TOD Market Grows• Car Ownership Declines• Incomes Reflect Regional Profile• Wider Array of Household Types Seek Housing Near Transit• Higher Walk, Bike and Transit Mode Shares• More Mid-Day Transit Trips
    26. 26. Integrating with Housing Choices Portland’s Pearl District U Street, DC
    27. 27. Integrating with Destinations• Walk to shops and services• Access daily needs without driving• Link trips to community uses such as schools and libraries• Employment centers served by transit Bethesda, MD• Destinations Matter!
    28. 28. Integrating with Travel Options• Transit can’t do it alone• Walkable places are essential• Lower Parking Standards in TOD• Car Sharing + Shared parking• Bike and pedestrian connections• High quality transit service and bus connections Minneapolis, MN
    29. 29. Creating Vibrant Public Spaces• Gathering places and opportunities for interaction• Reflect local character and community• Provide venue for various activities• Demonstrate positive public investment in transit and demand the same from private sector. San Francisco, CA
    30. 30. Fostering Community Engagement• Outreach and meaningful involvement in planning process• Long-term strategy and collaboration• Clear implementation steps so everyone can see progress
    31. 31. We know it when we see it• Streets
    32. 32. We know it when we see it• Buildings
    33. 33. No “One Size Fits All” Solution
    34. 34. Not Your Grandfather’s Transit
    37. 37. NYC as Sustainability Leader
    38. 38. What Can We Already Do?• Target Housing and Economic Development Incentives  NJ, MA, CA, IL• Coordinate Land Use & Transit in Planning and Funding  MD, OR, FL, CA• Capture Value for Local Use  PA, CA , NC• Early Land Acquisition for Pittsburgh Map? Affordable Housing Or other Photos  New MN LAAND Program
    39. 39. Creating Sustainable Communities withTransit• Think big!• Provide benefits to a full range of households.• Form strong partnerships• Plans and codes are not always sufficient• Be proactive and plan for success
    40. 40. Integrating Transportation Systems and the Communities They Serve Mariia Zimmerman, Reconnecting America MZIMMERMAN@RECONNECTINGAMERICA.ORG, 202-429-6990