Welcome to Move Forward’s weekly news wrap-up, featuring the mobility stories you don’t want to miss. Today’s topics include critiques to President Trump’s new infrastructure plan, a new bill in California that discourages private vehicle ownership, the autonomous vehicle industry’s first fatal accident, and how Houston is increasing bus ridership.
The fight for infrastructure:
President Trump’s new infrastructure plan is receiving heavy criticism from senior executives at transit agencies around the country. Critics say that the plan, which proposes cuts to federal grants aimed at funding transportation infrastructure and public transit projects, will cause undue harm to these services and hinder ongoing developments that benefits cities and states.
The Washington Post: “Public transit officials are ‘struggling to understand’ Trump’s proposed cuts” by Martine Powers, March 9, 2018.
Vehicle travel drops in 2017:
New data from the 2017 National Household Travel Survey found that total household vehicle miles traveled dropped by six percent from 2009 to 2017. However, total vehicle miles traveled increased by 8 percent over the same time period.
State Smart Transportation Initiative: “Household car travel dropping steadily” by Chris McCahill, March 19, 2018.
Forcing people out of their cars:
Vox’s Matthew Yglesias explains SB 827, a bill proposed by Sen. Scott Wiener that seeks to solve California’s housing crisis by having the state government change zoning ordinances to allow for greater density near rapid transit stations and high-frequency bus stops. However, there is some debate over what impact the bill will have on automobile usage and ownership, as more density means less parking spaces and room to travel. Vox: “The myth of “forcing people out of their cars”” by Matthew Yglesias, March19, 2018.
Self-driving’s first fatality:
An Uber Technologies’ self-driving car struck and killed a pedestrian this week in the first known fatality involving an autonomous vehicle. In response, Uber has now temporarily pulled its self-driving cars off the roads and suspended testing in cities across the country. Following the accident, supporters of AVs worry that this incident will cause severe regulation and damage public perception of the industry.
The Wall Street Journal: “Uber Suspends Driverless-Car Program After Pedestrian Is Killed” by Greg Bensinger & Tim Higgins, March 20, 2018.
How Houston bucked the national transit trend:
Houston is one of only two U.S. cities to see increased transit ridership in the past two years. In part one of a two-part series, Mobility Lab explains how Houston reimagined its bus network to better serve the demands of travelers throughout the city, prompting this increase in transit ridership.
Mobility Lab: “Houston bucks national trend of transit bus system decline” by Ethan Goffman, March 21, 2018.
Transit ridership declines nationwide:
New analysis by the TransitCenter advocacy group found that transit ridership fell in 31 of 35 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. last year– including seven cities that serve the majority of riders– with the majority of losses stemming from bus services. According to The Washington Post, “Researchers concluded that factors such as lower fuel costs, increased teleworking, higher car ownership and the rise of alternatives such as Uber and Lyft are pulling people off trains and buses at record levels.”
The Washington Post: “Falling transit ridership poses an ‘emergency’ for cities, experts fear” by Faiz Siddiqui, March 21, 2018.
Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.