Jumpstarting The Transit Space Race, Transit Climate Action Strategy & The Next 50 Years

If you’re looking for current information on the state of public transit projects across the United States, there might be no better resource than Jumpstarting The Transit Space Race, 2011: A Catalog And Analysis Of Planned And Proposed Transit Projects In The US (46p. PDF), released this month by Reconnecting America.

In this up-to-the-minute research, Reconnecting America has documented 643 fixed-guideway transit projects around the country in various stages of the transit planning process.

As the report notes, “this is a huge number, especially when compared to the number of porjects currently in the federal New/Small Starts process (45 in 2011).”

This document is a treasure-trove of information.

For the 643 projects analyzed, cost estimates were available for 413 projects, 99 projects had detailed ridership information available, and 121 had mileage information.

For 143 projects, sufficient information was available for the authors to digitize station points and analyze demographic and employment conditions within a half-mile of the stations.

Reconnecting America points out up front that information on transit projects changes almost daily, making this catalog a snapshot in time and needing to be updated periodically to remain current — and that some projects and plans were not discovered during the cataloging process.

Take the plunge into this transit lover’s dream of a read!

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency just released a draft version of their 2011 Climate Action Strategy For San Francisco Transportation System (48p. PDF).

It serves as a collaborative planning document developed by the Sustainable Streets Division and builds upon 2007’s Proposition A passed by voters which directed the SFMTA to develop and implement strategies for substantially reducing transportation sector carbon emissions.

SFMTA bills its Climate Action Strategy as a living document that will be updated every two years as data becomes available from pilot projects and new modeling practices.

In this draft, the agency identifies six core strategies for reduction of GHGs: travel choice and information, demand pricing, transit-oriented development, transit improvements, complete streets, and electric vehicles.

The strategy implementation covers several additional steps and new partnerships with businesses, organizations, neighborhoods and individuals.

The document is richly illustrated and could serve as a framework for other jurisdictions.

 By 2050, the population of California is projected to swell to 60 million people, nearly double what it was in 2000.

We already know how overwhelmed our transportation system is in 2010, so what will we do in the meantime not only to increase accessibility to roads and public transportation, but also to maintain the infrastructure already in place?

The Mineta Transportation Institute has prepared and released The Next Fifty Years: Addressing California’s Mobility In A Time Of Financial Challenges (40p. PDF) to address these issues.

The Institute, along with other sponsors, hosted the first of a two-part series on transportation financing on October 29, 2009. 

This document is an edited version of that program.

It asks who will decide what exactly is needed and where it will go?

It addresses who should pay for new infrastructure and access — the state? the federal government? users?

Should California build more highways?  Or is expanding public transportation systems the answer?

The Executive Summary explains that a key challenge facing transportation policymakers in California today is the fact that the current system of raising revenues for transportation — a system that is already severely stretched — is likely to bring in far less revenue in the next decades.

The need for transportation infrastructure maintenance, expansion and less reliance on fossil fuels means that new nad perhaps creative methods must be developed to pay for future transportation needs.

Today’s transportation policymakers first need to understand how much money the current system will generate.

There exists a very real probability that the system, funded primarily by fuel taxes, will deliver a declining amount of funds while the demand for public transportation and improving and maintaining present infrastructure will rise.

What to do?  Read on to discover leading experts’ ideas.