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Talking Headways Podcast: The Annual Yonah Freemark Show, Part II

This week, let's talk about transit funding in general and the Roosevelt Boulevard subway in Philadelphia, specifically.

Prediction Time! This week, on Part Deux of our chat with Yonah Freemark, we score our transportation predictions from last year and make new ones for 2025. We talk about the Roosevelt Subway, Transit agency bailouts, open gangway trains, and coming transit elections and extensions. It's an exciting conversation with a great transportation thinker.

If you prefer to read, click this link for a full unedited transcript. And if you want a synopsis, just read the text below the player.

OK, let's go:

Jeff Wood: Cost increases are going to severely impact transit expansion and it looks like we won't see any new big expansions planned next year.

Yonah Freemark: How do we define "planned"?

Jeff Wood: Let's expand the definition of "planned" to be in the planning process. So your guess last year was there would be a Philadelphia mayoral election and the mayor will push for a Roosevelt Subway. Kind of half right? Right. So you mentioned last year also how the King of Prussia line was there and it's waiting for the federal funding. And so since we last talked, the King of Prussia line died. And so there could be more focus on the Roosevelt Subway in Philadelphia and they haven't necessarily thrown all of their weight behind it. But I feel like there's more momentum for this project.

Yonah Freemark: There is a lot of momentum for that project. I mean I am hearing from policymakers in the Congress and in Pennsylvania, all of whom are telling me they want to understand how to make this subway happen. They want to understand whether it's worthwhile as a project. Then you have like an active community that seems to support it. It's surprising to see because I don't know if there's a similar project like that in the rest of the country where you have really sort of a ground up movement to try to get a transit line built. So in my mind that's really exciting to see like people on the ground saying, "Hey, this, this is a good project, let's do it." And getting politicians to listen.

Jeff Wood: So I would venture that I was wrong because there was kind of some grumblings about it, but I feel like after we talked last year, it really took off as a thing. And I know that there's like that Twitter account that's run by somebody who's really pushing on that. They tweet everybody and it feels like they're everywhere. But also just having it in the Inquirer a lot, people obviously talking with you about it. So there's actually some swell there because it does get so much attention and it is something that is on the radar and possibly moving forward. So I'm happy to be wrong. And so maybe that, that project alone deems my prediction from last year incorrect.

Yonah Freemark: So wait, can we make a new guess based on that?

Jeff Wood: Yeah, sure. If, you want to put that on your next year's predictions.

Yonah Freemark: Yeah. I love thinking about Philadelphia. In 2024, Yonah guesses that there will be a federal planning grant awarded to study the Roosevelt Boulevard Subway.

Jeff Wood: Okay. Yeah, that's a good one.

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