Leveraging Federal Funding for Transit Accessibility

Just 8 percent of U.S. households live near “high-quality transit.” How can federal infrastructure spending help fill this gap?

Read Time: 1 minute

January 17, 2023, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Blue and yellow light rail train pulling into outdoor station in St. Paul, MInnesota

Aaron of L.A. Photography / St. Paul light rail train

The Urban Institute’s Yonah Freemark assesses the potential of transit funding allocated in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which could help agencies bring public transit to more than the 8 percent of U.S. households that currently live near “high-quality transit.”

Freemark’s research on transit accessibility found that this percentage grew from a low of 5 percent in the 1990s, but that U.S. accessibility is far below that of other countries such as Canada, England, or France. “That’s one reason the average resident of France and the United Kingdom takes almost four times as many (PDF) transit trips annually as the average US resident,” Freemark explains.

Freemark describes planned transit projects in Minneapolis and Seattle, the cities with the most robust plans for their IIJA dollars. “When selecting projects for funding from IIJA, US Department of Transportation officials could consider how much investments may increase transit access to a higher share of the population, especially if those projects can improve accessibility to employment and other needs for people of color and residents with low incomes.” Freemark also advises linking transit plans with land use policy reform that encourages transit-oriented development (TOD) and investing in areas with high population density and poor transit access.

Friday, January 13, 2023 in Urban Institute

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Sharrow bike markings on black asphalt two-lane road with snowy trees

Early Sharrow Booster: ‘I Was Wrong’

The lane marking was meant to raise awareness and instill shared respect among drivers and cyclists. But their inefficiency has led supporters to denounce sharrows, pushing instead for more robust bike infrastructure that truly protects riders.

January 26, 2023 - Streetsblog USA

View of stone-paved street with pedestrians and "Farmers Market" neon sign on left and old buildings on right in Seattle, Washington

Push and Pull: The Link Between Walkability and Affordability

The increased demand for walkable urban spaces could make them more and more exclusionary if cities don’t pursue policies to limit displacement and boost affordability.

January 27, 2023 - Smart Cities Dive

View of Tacoma, Washington with Mount Rainier in background

Tacoma Developing New Housing Policy

The city’s Home in Tacoma plan is designed to address the region’s growth and rising housing prices, but faces local backlash over density and affordability concerns.

7 hours ago - The Urbanist

Green alley under construction

Green Alleys: A New Paradigm for Stormwater Management

Rather than shuttling stormwater away from the city and into the ocean as quickly as possible, Los Angeles is now—slowly—moving toward a ‘city-as-sponge’ approach that would capture and reclaim more water to recharge crucial reservoirs.

February 2 - Curbed

Aerial view of residential neighborhood in La Habra, California at sunset

Orange County Project Could Go Forward Under ‘Builder’s Remedy’

The nation’s largest home builder could receive approval for a 530-unit development under an obscure state law as the city of La Habra’s zoning laws hang in limbo after the state rejected its proposed housing plan.

February 2 - Orange County Register