How Transit Reform Could Restore Trust in Governance

One writer argues that improving transit in major cities would boost local economies and prove that positive change is possible.

1 minute read

August 10, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

New York Subway

Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York / Flickr

Writing in Governing, Aaron M. Renn lays out an argument for prioritizing public transit reform in big cities. “Not only is it a genuinely critical need, but it’s an area where tangible progress can be made and the public will see it right away,” Renn writes. In big cities such as New York, Chicago, and Boston—even in the age of remote work—transit “enables the dense, large-scale agglomeration of workers that gives central business districts the highest economic output in the country.”

“The problems are serious, but transit has a number of characteristics that make it a great place to focus governance energy on fixing.” First, Renn writes, it’s not reinventing the wheel: there are many global examples of functional, efficient public transit systems to draw lessons from. At the same time, “Most of the states where these systems are located have little if any anti-transit sentiment,” making transit reform a more easily achievable goal than other, more politicized issues.

For Renn, improving transit is about more than making transportation more effective for urban residents. Transit reform could help restore public faith in government and “create momentum” for solving much thornier challenges.

Monday, August 8, 2022 in Governing

Aerial view of homes on green hillsides in Daly City, California.

Depopulation Patterns Get Weird

A recent ranking of “declining” cities heavily features some of the most expensive cities in the country — including New York City and a half-dozen in the San Francisco Bay Area.

April 10, 2024 - California Planning & Development Report

Close-up of maroon California 'Clean Air Vehicle' carpool lane access sticker on the back bumper of a silver Tesla vehicle.

California EV Owners To Lose Carpool Lane Privilege

A program that began in 1999 to encourage more electric car ownership is set to expire next year without Congressional and state action.

April 2, 2024 - San Francisco Chronicle

Aerial view of Oakland, California with bay in background

California Exodus: Population Drops Below 39 Million

Never mind the 40 million that demographers predicted the Golden State would reach by 2018. The state's population dipped below 39 million to 38.965 million last July, according to Census data released in March, the lowest since 2015.

April 11, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Google street view of grassy lot next to brick church with elevated freeway on other side in Houston, Texas.

Houston Supportive Housing Development Sparks Debate

Critics say a proposed apartment building would negatively impact the neighborhood’s walkability.

2 hours ago - Houston Chronicle

Closed black wrought iron gate in front of gated residential community with large palm trees along sides of street.

Friday Funny: Gated Community Doubles Down

The Onion skewers suburbia.

3 hours ago - The Onion

Aerial view of Chicago with river in foreground.

‘Cut the Tape’ Report Takes Aim at Inefficiencies

A set of recommendations from the Chicago mayor’s office calls for streamlining city processes to stimulate more residential and commercial development.

4 hours ago - Block Club Chicago

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.