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News from Transportation for America
October 1, 2015
Three delegations of local leaders are hoping to replicate Denver’s story

In the late 1990s, Denver was faced with a choice: Invest in new transportation options, or risk losing interest from businesses because of growing congestion and a lack of other options. So the city developed the $4.7 billion FasTracks plan to create a new network of light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit, and voters taxed themselves to make it all happen.

Last week, leaders from Raleigh, Nashville and Indy got to see the fruits of Denver’s labor firsthand as part of our Transportation Innovation Academy in partnership with TransitCenter. The trip to Denver was the “site visit” in addition to workshops in each delegation’s city over the course of this year. Armed with inspiration, practical knowledge and expertise from Denver, the leaders returned home to continue applying what they’re learning to make their respective region’s visions a reality. 

This yearlong academy is helping advance the plans of these three cities, but there’s a bigger trend afoot. These regions are emblematic of a burgeoning group of mid-sized U.S. cities planning new transit service to meet growing demand, helping them stay competitive in the race for talent and ensuring that they better connect all residents to jobs and economic opportunity.

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Other recent news
Politicians meddling with North Carolina’s shift to a merit-based process for choosing transportation projects

North Carolina recently instituted a new process to evaluate transportation projects based on merit and award funds without political interference, but a handful of state legislators attempted to reinsert politics into that process to stop a particular rail transit projects selected to receive state funds in the Triangle Area. Read More.

More than a dozen local Utah communities will decide their own transportation funding fate this November

Voters in a majority of Utah’s counties will decide whether to approve a 0.25-cent increase in their counties’ sales tax to fund local transportation projects — just one of many notable local ballot measures we’re watching. Read more.

T4A partner releases a roadmap for starting passenger rail service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge

The Southern Rail Commission (SRC) released a gubernatorial briefing book, authored by T4A’s Beth Osborne, providing the Louisiana governor and legislature with a how-to guide for starting daily passenger rail service between Louisiana’s biggest cities. Read more.

Applications now being accepted for Smart Growth America’s 2016 free technical assistance workshops

This free program helps communities find solutions to local development issues so that participating communities are able to grow in ways that benefit residents and businesses while protecting the environment and preserving a sense of place. Applications are open now for this extremely popular program. Apply today!

Articles we're talking about
Vice President Joe Biden In Detroit Linking Mass Transportation To Breaking Cycle Of Poverty – CBS Detroit 
How states and localities are filling the gaps left by Washington’s gridlock – Washington Post
What Cities Are Learning About Making Bike-Share More Equitable – Streetsblog
17 Metros Get Grants for Transit-Oriented Development Planning — Next City 
From the Director's Desk

I was in Chicago this week to speak at Move Together: The Shared Mobility Summit. Don’t be fooled by the somewhat wonky name — the conference highlighted the remarkable pace of change that technology is enabling in services as diverse as car-sharing, bike-sharing, ride-splitting, ride-sourcing and ride-sharing.

There is both promise and peril in the explosion of these services in cities across America.  Managed well, they can fill missing gaps in our transportation networks, complement rather than compete with public transit routes, and provide a far more effective alternative to traditional paratransit.  But if we’re not intentional about these new private mobility options, we risk creating a two-tiered system, setting up transportation “haves” and “have nots.”  

Thankfully, a host of pilot projects are underway to extend car-sharing into low-income communities, extend the benefits of bikesharing to people without credit cards or bank accounts, and take the tech platforms from Uber and Lyft and extend them to mobility services for people with disabilities.  It’s about time that an entrepreneurial spirit infiltrates the transportation industry – now it’s up to us to make sure that everyone can benefit.  

James Corless, director, T4America

Looking Back, Looking Ahead
  • A government shutdown has been averted for now. The Senate passed a clean continuing resolution to keep the government functioning earlier this week and the House followed suit before the midnight deadline on Wednesday. With Congress still wrangling over the general budget and a full docket of issues to consider this fall, it’ll likely delay any imminent House action on a long-term transportation bill. Plus, Congress now only has until December 12 to avoid another shutdown. We’ll keep you updated.
  • The USDOT launched a comprehensive resource for governments and private companies who want to apply for federal transportation funding. Typically, applying for federal loans can be a wonky and intimidating process, but the USDOT’s new resource streamlines the process and makes it more accessible for everyone. Learn how to take advantage of federal funds and demystify the process here: https://www.transportation.gov/fastlane/batic-launch
  • Do you love writing about transportation and maybe spending too much time on Twitter? Then you could be our new Communications Fellow. Apply here. Smart Growth America is hiring, too, including a Transportation Program Manager, Research Analyst and more. Apply today.
  • We’ve been producing some great content just for our members, including an in-depth series on performance measures and the details on an emerging practice known as “creative placemaking”. If you want more content like that, join as a member. Find out more about membership. 
  • The scoop on transit-oriented development and real estate. Hear Smart Growth America and Transportation for America staff speak at this year’s Transit Oriented Development and Urban Real Estate Conference on October 20-22 in Washington, D.C. More info and registration. 
  • And join LOCUS at The Urban Land Institute’s fall meeting in San Francisco October 6th and in Dallas at Rail-volution October 27th. LOCUS is Smart Growth America’s coalition of responsible real estate investors. Find more details and register. 
  • Need a guide for all of the smart growth funding options out there? You can purchase a copy of LOCUS’s Federal Financing Toolkit from their website.
@T4America tweet of the week

Here's your big Friday news. Pope Francis Lays Hands On Ailing U.S. Infrastructure. http://www.theonion.com/article/pope-francis-lays-hands-ailing-us-infrastructure-51388 pic.twitter.com/nGtMrmbAAQ Sept 25, 2015

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