Wednesday’s Headlines

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  • City Lab predicts that e-scooter companies will be culled, city regulations will produce winners and losers, the battle over data will rage on and forms will emerge that make women and gender-noncomforming folks more comfortable. Consolidation is already happening: Bird just acquired European rival Circ (The Verge). Meanwhile, e-scooter operator Spin is tripling its devices in Phoenix to 900 and adding 300 in Tempe. (KTAR)
  • More Americans are working from home, and CNBC has tips on how to do so effectively.
  • Maybe this is why? The average worker in Washington, D.C. spends 102 hours a year sitting in traffic, and commutes — already an average of 43 minutes, among the nation’s longest — are getting longer, because people who work in the city have to live further away to find housing they can afford. (WAMU)
  • Related: Los Angeles is promoting expensive, car-centric apartments near transit lines, which is not going to help grow ridership (City Watch). Dallas requires developers to provide too many parking spaces, which drives up the cost of housing (D Magazine). And some new urban developments have little to no parking, but the trend hasn’t spread to the suburbs. One retired Cal State East Bay professor hopes to change that, envisioning a 30-acre “pedestrian paradise” with one parking space per seven homes and a shuttle to the nearest transit station (San Francisco Chronicle).
  • Denver’s transit agency has been facing chronic bus driver and train operator shortages, route cuts and declining ridership. As RTD looks for new leadership, a state takeover could be looming. (Denver Post)
  • Rather than Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s flat tax hike proposal on Uber and Lyft, the Boston Globe editorial board wants a flexible ride-hailing fee that punishes users who could be taking transit during rush hour while absolving those who need a ride late at night when the T is dark.
  • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam wants to raise the gas tax by 4 cents a gallon to help fund his $3.7-billion rail expansion plan. (Washington Post)
  • It’s not as ambitious as Virginia’s plan, but a Baltimore city councilman aims to take single-occupancy vehicles off the road by filling vacant transit positions, focusing on equity and providing fast, frequent and reliable service. (Greater Greater Washington)
  • Thirteen cities in the Netherlands have low-emissions zones, but the various rules are confusing to drivers, so the national government is standardizing them. (Eltis)
  • The founder of a new flat-fee electric shuttle in Oklahoma City hopes it will be a last-mile solution for streetcar riders. (KFOR)

 

Tuesday’s Headlines

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  • The breakneck growth of the e-scooter industry globally has hit a speed bump, and companies are looking to address safety concerns and supply chain inefficiencies. (Wall Street Journal)
  • When it prevents homeowners from installing solar panels on their roofs to help forestall catastrophic climate change, historic preservation has gone too far. (Also, the only thing historic preservation is preserving is rich people’s property values.) (New York Times)
  • Uber is now available in Vancouver, the last major North American city to hold out against ride-hailing (Quartz). The company is also looking to get back into the London market, cutting a deal with Nissan to provide 2,000 electric LEAFs to drivers (Axios).
  • Much has been written about Virginia’s $3.7-billion plan to expand intercity rail, but the Washington Post is the first to delve into what those plans mean for Amtrak. The number of Amtrak trains operating in Virginia is expected to double — part of its long-term plan to compete with driving and short flights in dense urban corridors.
  • San Francisco’s Market Street goes car-free on Wednesday, and transit advocates are already looking at which streets to close off to traffic next. (SF Chronicle, StreetsblogSF)
  • Bus ridership among students is up 50 percent since Montgomery County, Maryland expanded its fare-free policy for people under age 18. (WAMU)
  • A group of 48 Maryland legislators have formed a new caucus to push for more transit funding from the state. (Greater Greater Washington)
  • A last-ditch effort to restart the Loop streetcar in St. Louis has failed, and the Federal Transit Administration is likely to try to claw back the $25 million grant used to build the line. (Post-Dispatch)
  • People fleeing a mass shooting in Seattle last week were faced with surge prices of more than $100 for Lyft and Uber rides. (KIRO)
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer has a Q&A with Leslie Richards, the new general manager of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.
  • Pop-up markets in MARTA stations are giving Atlanta transit riders access to fresh produce they can’t always find in their neighborhoods. (Politico)
  • Miss Manners says it’s not OK to yell at rude drivers while riding your bike (Washington Post). We respectfully disagree.

Monday’s Headlines

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  • Amtrak’s plans to roll out new high-speed trains on its Acela line between Boston and Washington, D.C. in 2021 are likely to be delayed, according to the railroad’s inspector general. (Washington Post)
  • Toyota is rebranding itself as a “mobility” company and building an EPCOT-like “smart city” on the site of a soon-to-be-shuttered auto manufacturing plant. (City Lab)
  • In a Smart Cities Dive interview, Bird’s director of sustainability said that a third to a half of e-scooter trips are replacing car trips, the company is building more and more durable vehicles to cut down on life-cycle emissions, and it’s pushing cities to build safer infrastructure. But in Washington, D.C., e-scooter and dockless bike rides appear to be replacing rides on publicly owned Capital Bikeshare (WTOP).
  • New York City’s 14th Street busway project demonstrates the benefits of bus-only lanes: Faster bus rides lead to more riders and fewer cars, which benefits everyone — even people who still choose to drive. (Curbed)
  • After the failure of Atlanta suburb Gwinnett County’s transit plan at the ballot box last year, a committee has retooled it to include better bus service that reaches more residents earlier on in the plan’s 30-year timeframe. Now it’s up to county commissioners to decide whether to put the plan on the ballot. (AJC)
  • The $4 billion lost in the recent Washington state car tab referendum should be replaced with an “air quality surcharge” based on a vehicle’s estimated lifetime pollution, a Seattle Times columnist argues.
  • The Federal Transit Administration gave Portland’s TriMet an $87-million grant to improve bus service in the Southeast Division corridor, one of its most popular routes. (KPTV)
  • Uber is mapping Washington, D.C. streets in advance of deploying self-driving vehicles there later this year. (Tech Crunch)
  • A hospital system that had pulled funding for San Antonio’s bike-share, endangering the system, will now fund it through April. (Rivard Report)
  • The Denver Post credited Streetsblog Denver’s RTD in Crisis series in a story about big changes coming to the transit agency, which is cutting routes and losing riders in the face of a driver shortage.
  • Delays in state and federal reimbursements forced the transit agency in Wilmington, North Carolina to ask for a $700,000 loan from the city to keep operating. (WECT)
  • Cincinnati took so long to fund a 9-year-old’s request for a sidewalk at her school that she’s now too old to use it. (WCPO)

Friday’s Headlines

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  • Predictably, dense, walkable cities like New York and San Francisco are the “greenest” in the U.S., while sprawling metro areas like Atlanta and Houston are among the dirtiest. Surprisingly, though, some smaller cities like Des Moines ranked high on Streetlight Data’s Transportation Climate Impact Index because, even though they have little to no transit, people don’t drive much anyway. (Fast Company)
  • Nashville voters rejected a transit plan in 2018 because the city didn’t meaningfully engage residents in the planning process or leave proponents enough time to campaign, and African-Americans concerned about gentrification joined forces with seniors and tax opponents, according to a new Transit Center report. Cities with transit referendums in 2020, like Cincinnati, San Antonio and Austin, can learn from Music City’s mistakes.
  • Curbed takes a deep dive into what Orlando — the nation’s most dangerous city for walking — is doing to make its streets safer. 
  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is proposing raising fees on Uber and Lyft rides from 20 cents to $1, which would raise $73 million for transit. Baker recently pledged to increase the MBTA’s budget by $135 million this year. (Boston Globe)
  • Baltimore missed out on collecting $2.1 million from a tax on Uber and Lyft rides. (Sun)
  • The Federal Transit Administration awarded Seattle’s Sound Transit $790 million for the Federal Way light rail extension. (Kent Reporter)
  • The Dallas city council sent Silver Line plans back to the drawing board because members objected to elevating part of the track. (Observer)
  • Shelby County commissioners can’t agree on how to raise funding for Memphis transit and kicked the can to an ad hoc committee. (Daily Memphian)
  • Washington, D.C. has scrapped plans to extend a streetcar line to Georgetown. (WTOP)
  • LeBron James and Lyft are offering free bike-share memberships to teens from low-income families, starting in New York, then in Chicago and the Bay Area (CNBC). StreetsblogNYC also caught up with the King, who called for more bike lanes and reminisced about biking as a kid in Akron.
  • City of Bikes: Running for re-election in March, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is doubling down on separated bike paths and banning cars from major streets (City Lab), Paris is also dealing with delivery truck congestion — a common urban problem these days — by building “logistics hotels,” mixed-use buildings in residential neighborhoods that serve as distribution hubs. Warehouses, gas stations and parking garages are targets for such developments (Wired).
  • The World Economic Forum in Davos is encouraging attendees to use a slightly less polluting fuel blend in their private jets. Let them use cake instead! (Bloomberg)

Thursday’s Headlines

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  • Electric scooters may have a bigger environmental impact than you think. E-scooter provider Skip says it will start sharing data on replacement parts — which require resources to produce and dispose of — in hopes of encouraging manufacturers to improve sustainability. (The Verge)
  • Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg — who released a transportation plan last week — put out a broader infrastructure plan Wednesday focused mainly on repairing roads and bridges (The Hill). Streetsblog Editor Gersh Kuntzman credits Bloomberg with devoting funding to repairs rather than new roads and provides additional details, though he notes that the former New York City mayor didn’t say where the money would come from.
  • In light of Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg recently releasing transportation plans, Curbed updated its overview of where the Democratic presidential candidates stand.
  • Drivers killed 22 pedestrians and injured 62 more in San Diego last year — down from a peak in 2018, but still a far cry from the city’s goal of zero deaths by 2025. (Union-Tribune)
  • Tampa residents clamored for safety improvements on affluent Bayshore Boulevard after speeding teens killed a mother and her toddler and a drunk driver killed a man walking on the sidewalk. Some think more improvements are needed, while others think the city should move on to fixing statistically more dangerous streets where deaths aren’t so high-profile. (Tampa Bay Times)
  • Montgomery County, Maryland leaders will provide an update on Vision Zero next week and hold a town hall meeting in February after a recent spate of crashes that killed or injured pedestrians. (WTOP)
  • Spokane won a $53-million Federal Transit Administration grant for a bus rapid transit line. (KXLY)
  • The FTA also cleared Minneapolis’ BRT Gold Line, finding that it won’t significantly affect the environment. (Star Tribune)
  • Atlanta’s five e-scooter companies are operating on month-to-month permits as the city continues to consider new regulations. (AJC)
  • Philadelphia’s transit agency is taking its iconic Girard Avenue trolleys off the streets and replacing them with buses because most of them can’t pass inspection. (Plan Philly)
  • The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is auctioning off “vintage” (read: old and busted) trolley and subway cars. (WCVB)
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