Transportation headlines, Thursday, Dec. 16

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

America’s Most Walkable Cities (The Atlantic)

Walkscore has become a popular way to find out if your neighborhood is walkable. Now someone has gone ahead and made a list of the most walkable cities in the U.S. using Walkscore data, and wouldn’t you know, Los Angeles made it in to the top 10. Of  course, it pays to remember that Walkscore just uses an algorithm based on proximity to amenities – it doesn’t take into account the quality of the built environment surrounding those amenities.

The Federal Interest in Non-Highway Transportation (Planetizen)

One argument against funding transit projects with federal dollars is that transit in cities (and other non-highway investments) does not address interstate concerns while highways do. Michael Lewyn argues against this idea on Planetizen, noting that most highway improvements are meant to serve local needs – like improving commute times. Likewise, transit and other non-highway projects can address national concerns such as pollution and America’s obesity problem by encouraging people to walk to and from stations.

Third Quarter 2010 Public Transit Ridership Declines Slightly (APTA)

According to this press release from the American Public Transportation Association, nationwide transit ridership is still down, but only slightly (.67%). The decrease is blamed on the continuing high unemployment rate that has been plaguing the country. Some places did show ridership increases on certain modes – L.A.’s light rail ridership is up 9.1% in 2010.

The Truth About HOT Lanes (The Infrastructurist)

The Infrastructurist has a good interview with Jack Finn from the infrastructure firm that that designed Orange County’s Route 91’s high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes. Route 91 was the country’s first HOT project. For those who need a reminder: HOT are toll lanes that use variable pricing to ensure traffic keeps moving.

Hong Kong’s Expanding Metro a Model of Development-Funded Transit (The Transport Politic)

Hong Kong is expanding their heavily used transit system and funding it using a unique method. MTR, Hong Kong’s transit agency, is also one of the city’s biggest property developers. It uses profits from its development activities – residential, commercial and retail projects which are complimented nicely by the transit that reaches them – to fund future expansion. It’s not all that different from the funding mode America’s streetcar companies used at the turn of the 20th century. The so-called streetcar suburbs of L.A. are a perfect example of this. Could this mode of funding return to L.A.?