Thursday’s Headlines From Around the Nation

  • Generally, light rail works best in dense areas near jobs, but instead, many cities have built underused lines to suburbs and airports, according to the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank.
  • States are taking advantage of streets emptied by coronavirus to fast-track repairs (Wired). Or are they? USA Today reports that falling gas-tax revenue is forcing states to postpone construction projects.
  • Many transit agencies are ditching fares and allowing all-door boarding in an effort to spread out riders. One think tank has a different approach — charge higher fares during peak hours and encourage employers to stagger shifts. (The Guardian)
  • The New York Times thinks coronavirus is the death knell for dense, transit-oriented developments as we know them. But as City Lab points out, Americans have always had a love-hate relationship with cities, especially in times of pandemic, but density isn’t a problem — it’s the solution to problems like affordable housing and climate change.
  • If scooter companies want to survive, they’re going to have to stop clashing with local governments. (Fast Company)
  • California’s attorney general sued Uber and Lyft alleging that they’re violating a new law categorizing their drivers as employees rather than contractors. (NBC News)
  • The Washington, D.C. suburb of Arlington County won’t close streets for social distancing because the police chief says they don’t have enough traffic cones. (ARLnow)
  • The University of Texas is researching a new type of battery that lasts longer and is more sustainable to produce than the lithium-ion batteries currently used in electric vehicles.
  • This might be Elon Musk’s least-crazy idea yet: Turn Tesla into a power utility. It has applied for a license to generate electricity in Great Britain, and its cars’ batteries could prove useful in storing wind and solar energy. (Inverse)
  • Brussel’s new Green Party transport minister wants to transform the traffic-choked Belgian capital. (Politico)
  • And, finally, great news: Former Streetsblog USA Editor Angie Schmitt’s hotly anticipated book about the rise in pedestrian deaths, “Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America,” is available for pre-order! (Island Press)

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Image: Creative Commons

Study: Free Transit Helps Local Businesses

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A new study finds that commuters with access to free public transportation don't drive any less — but they do take more leisure and shopping trips than those who have to pay their own fare, which could help provide local economies with the cash they need to provide a broader range of social services over time. 
Source: Creative Commons

Federal Corona Bill Seems Generous To Transit. It’s Not.

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New crisis, same old mistakes. The Federal Transit Administration’s $25-billion COVID-19 public transit grant package contains much-needed lifelines for struggling transit agencies across the country — but the amount received by each agency did not take into account the new reality of the virus, but were allocated using the same formulas from normal years. As a […]

Can Free Transit Work in a Real City?

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Today on the Streetsblog Network, Jarrett Walker at Human Transit points to the interesting case of Tallinn, Estonia, a city of 426,000 people that seems to be pulling off a feat that defies the conventional wisdom: operating a transit system that people can ride without paying fares. Most transit agencies are skeptical that a fare-free […]

As Transit Is Gutted in Orange County, Freeways Set to Expand

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Communities around the country are bracing for the impact of fare hikes and transit cuts, as jury-rigged funding mechanisms for vital local transportation systems crumble under the strain of the weakening economy. You already know about the MTA’s woes in New York City; today, the Times had a report about the 75 percent fare increase […]