On Thursday, I spoke to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council. They had convened to ratify their 25-year transportation plan for the region. The Council's plan, "A Shared Vision for a Shared Future," gets it right.
How do they get it right?
- The "Shared Vision" plan does a great job directing development toward concentrated mixed-use areas, and it envisions more walkable, bikeable neighborhoods.
- From the Second Avenue Subway to Moynihan Station, which is getting back on track, to the 7 line extension, the regional plan includes the most significant investments in public transportation and infrastructure in a century.
- The Council is implementing its first truly coordinated effort to launch a “frontal assault” on global climate change.
Beyond the plan, the region is taking other steps. For example, New York is sprouting new bike paths and new open spaces, like the pedestrian mall at Times Square.
There’s a theme emerging here, which is that the New York region is not afraid to experiment, to think outside the box, to envision a future of enhanced mobility with less congestion, less pollution, and less sprawl.
This is consistent with the Obama Administration's "Livable Communities" initiative, which I have discussed often on these pages.
Taken together, these efforts will produce a profound strategic shift in our commuting and travel patterns-–with far greater emphasis on efficient, sustainable mobility than this country has seen.
On DOT's end, we’re going to work with Congress to streamline federal transportation programs, identify new sustainable funding sources, and provide greater flexibility to metropolitan regions. This approach will give New York greater flexibility to invest in the public transportation projects that feed into the region’s agenda to improve mobility and sustainability.
Since metro areas comprise over 80% of the U.S. population-–and account for most of the congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, these areas must be empowered to tackle their transportation and energy problems.
In the end, forward-thinking plans like the NY Metropolitan Transportation Council's and greater flexibility for planning regions will move us closer to enjoying cities and suburbs that are cleaner, less congested, and less polluted.
The stakes are high, yes, but with leadership from regions like NY, the future is promising indeed.