No Thanks, We Have Enough Investment

A good post here from the Overhead Wire. It seems to me that the only thing more remarkable than the great success cities have had when they’ve focused on improving land use around fixed-guideway transit is the fact that cities seem so reluctant to repeat the experiment. Metro’s Green Line through the District has been a gold mine for the city, leading to billions in new investment, thousands of new residents, hundreds of new businesses, and so on. And there is absolutely no momentum in the District’s government to try and create more opportunities for this kind of growth. The city could clearly use additional heavy and light rail capacity, and that new capacity would clearly improve the development prospects for many areas of the city that are at present rather remote, cut off by a lack of transit access. But the District can’t even get two streetcar lines running that have been in the works for years, despite the fact that they own the cars and are putting lines in the ground.

A big part of the problem, of course, is that the federal government doesn’t adequately take these kinds of land use changes into account in allocating funds. It’s nonetheless possible for cities to press ahead with these things, particularly since attitudes in Washington are changing. You’d think that someone down in the city government would be like, you know what? That worked really well. Maybe we should do it again.


  1. How will stuff like this be affected by cap-and-trade?

    If there will be some semi-rational formula by which the creators of fixed mass transit lines could get a bunch of carbon credits that they could sell off to help finance their transit lines, that would be a hell of an incentive for cities to build them.

    And if they got even more credits for allowing major development around transit stops, they might consider changing their land-use regs, too.