9-line access access management access point accessibility ADA air quality alignment amenity antiplanner atlanta BART BID bike Blogs boston branded bus branded buses brookings brt bus Bus Rapid Transit BYU capacity car pool cars central link Centrality certification commuter rail condo congestion congestion pricing connections consistency coverage crossings CRT cycling DART dedicated dedicated right of way density denver depreciation developers development economics efficiency Envision Utah equity eugene exclusive extension FAQ favela Federal Funding Flex Bus florida free fare zone freeways Frequent Transit Network frontrunner frontunner Gallivan garden cities gas prices geotagging goat Google grade-separation Granary District growth headway heavy rail hedonic High Speed Rail history housing housing affordability housing bubble housing prices HOV income infill innovative intersections intensity ITS junk science LA land use LEED legacy city light rail linear park location LRT lyft M/ART malls mapping maps metrics metro MetroRail missoula mixed mixed traffic mixed-traffic mobile mode choice Mode Share multi-family MXD neighborhood networks news NIMBY office online op-ed open letter Operations parking parking meters peak travel pedestrian environment phasing Photomorphing planning Portland property property values Provo proximity quality_transit rail railvolution rant rapid rapid transit RDA real estate redevelopment reliability research retail Ridership ridesharing right of way roadway network ROW salt lake city san diego schedule schedule span seattle separated shuttle silver line single family SLC SLC transit master plan slums smartphone snow sprawl standing stop spacing streetcar streetscape streetscaping subdivision subsidy Sugarhouse Sugarhouse Streetcar Tacoma taxi technology tenure termini time-separation TOD townhouse traffic signal tram transit transit networks transit oriented development Transit Planning transponder transportation travel time TRAX trip planning trolley tunnel uber university of utah urban design urban economics urban land UTA UTA 2 Go Trip Planner utah Utah County Utah Transit Authority vmt walking distance web welfare transit Westside Connector WFRC wheelchairs zoning

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Starts and the FTA

I'm very impressed with the New Starts program in general, as a piece of effective policy. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has been very effective with the new Starts Program. They fund the initial segment, but they insist that each be built with the capacity to expand later on.

  1. Provides quality transit to places that have never had it
  2. Ridership metrics
A new transit system is expensive. The initial length contains a lot of one-time capital costs--stations, storage facilities, the first vehicles, etc. that subsequent expansion doesn't. But for a city that has never experienced quality transit, for whom 'transit' means a slow bus serving those too destitute to afford a car the idea of making that huge investment is preposterous. And the opposition is fierce. No one wants a station nearby, that will only be used by transients. 

Worse still are vanity projects. 'Monorail' has become emblematic of transit projects that over-promise and under-deliver. Something that will revitalize a dying downtown, solve parking problems without competing with the automobile, and attracts tourists!! New Starts helps fight this, demanding both opening day and ten year ridership projections. But New Starts also involves accountability provisions--not just for the local partner, but for the consultant preparing the projections. Inflating the forecast to justify access to 'free' Federal money becomes a much more dangerous game.

Now, if only road projects had to go through similar scrutiny.