Folks, here's some big news on the transit and livability front.
With support from President Obama, we’re taking a major step forward to free our New Starts and Small Starts programs from their current narrow requirements.
As Michael Cooper reports, since 2005, these requirements have excluded many good projects--popular projects like light-rail and streetcars. Measuring only cost and how fast a project can move the most people the greatest distance simply misses the boat, and, as reported in Streetsblog, has slowed down transit expansion. In 2010, a policy that has that effect is ridiculous.
Look, everywhere I go, people tell me they want better transportation in their communities. They want the opportunity to leave their cars behind. To live near work and schools and good hospitals. And to enjoy clean, green neighborhoods. The old way of doing things just doesn't value what people want.
Now, the Recovery Act discretionary TIGER grants we announce soon will help some communities achieve these broader goals.
But if we’re serious--really serious--about creating livable communities built around good transportation, then our Federal Transit Administration needs to consider key livability factors when evaluating non-Recovery Act transit proposals.
Factors like enivronmental benefits and economic development opportunities.
So we are opening them up to a broader set of six performance criteria:
- Economic development
- Mobility improvements
- Environmental benefits
- Operating efficiencies
- Cost effectiveness
- Land use
These criteria--that our old way of doing business simply didn't account for--add up to a much fuller picture of how proposed projects will serve their communities. And these are the kinds of criteria we pledged last spring to support alongside our Sustainable Communities partners HUD and EPA.
Obviously, we still must evaluate a project's ability to move people from one place to another. But, as Publicola notes, now we can add to the mix how new transit ideas can help communities reduce their carbon footprints, spur economic activity, and relieve congestion.
It's what people want, and it just makes sense.