The average American currently drives nearly twice as far each day as they did 30 years ago. Taking a cursory look at two radically different transportation plans for Houston, TX shows how the default position of federal transportation policy is to increase driving—and consequently pollution—by offering billions to states to build new roads and make existing roads wider, while making transit projects wait in line or compete for much smaller amounts of funding.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) claims that it isn’t intentionally slowing down and undermining transit funding. But nine communities have been waiting months for federal funding on shovel-ready transit projects that have been “allocated” money by USDOT without actually receiving a single dollar. For one of those communities, it has been 10 months since USDOT “allocated” money—an unprecedented and unnecessary delay. How long are communities supposed to wait for USDOT to do its job and fund these transit projects?
This month on Building Better Communities with Transit we are joined by Sean Northup, Deputy Director of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization. Sean chats about the Indianapolis Red Line, the first of three BRT routes that will crisscross the region. Those lines and other transit improvements are being funded in part by local, dedicated funding which was won after a long and arduous process, as Sean explains.
Since Transportation for America launched their Stuck in the Station resource, local leaders, journalists, editorial boards, and members of Congress have been loudly critical of USDOT’s failure to fund and advance transit projects. Here’s some of the most recent updates.
This month on Building Better Communities with Transit we’re joined by Bill Sirois, Senior Manager, Transit Oriented Communities with RTD in Denver. Bill chats about the success of the transit agency’s TOD program, the project to rehabilitate the historic Union Station (and the area surrounding it), and what comes next when the current period of transit expansion comes to a close.
Of the $2.3 billion that Congress has given USDOT for transit capital investments since Trump took office, USDOT has distributed a meager 20 percent to transit projects waiting for funding. These avoidable delays are costing local communities money and putting jobs at risk.
Last March, Congress provided the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) with about $1.4 billion to help build and expand transit systems across the country. 142 days later and counting, FTA has obligated almost none of these funds to new transit projects. Our resource—Stuck in the Station—will continue tracking exactly how long FTA has been declining to do their job, how much money has been committed, and which communities are paying a hefty price in avoidable delays.
This month on Building Better Communities with Transit we’re joined by the Executive Director of the KC Streetcar Authority, Tom Gerend. In 2016, Kansas City, MO opened the first streetcar the city has seen in almost 60 years and transformed the city’s downtown. Former skeptics of the line are now some of the KC Streetcar’s biggest proponents as businesses have boomed and more people are moving to—and spending in—the center city. The 2.2 mile KC Streetcar, akin to a downtown circulator, is “a demonstration of the possible.”
On May 1, residents in Nashville will be voting on a $5.2 billion proposal to dramatically improve and expand the city’s transit system with improved frequency on existing lines, new BRT routes, and a new light rail system. Our upcoming conference, Intersections: Creating Culturally Complete Streets, is happening right in the midst of this once-in-a-generation conversation.
As expected, President Trump used his first State of the Union Address Tuesday night as an opportunity to discuss infrastructure. The speech was light on specifics, though the Washington Post and other outlets continue to report that the White House is preparing a full plan to be released in a few weeks.