Over the past year, Hoboken has jumped to the head of the pack when it comes to transportation reform in New Jersey cities. Motivated by practical concerns like parking, congestion, and fiscal sanity, Mayor Dawn Zimmer and the City Council have refocused the city’s policies and programs toward transit, walking and biking, and auto trip reduction. In doing so, they’ve ushered in a new paradigm for urban transportation in New Jersey — and other cities would do well to follow suit.
Like most cities, Hoboken suffered from a shortage of parking and an abundance of traffic; and as in most cities, officials tried for decades to remedy the problem by adding spaces and lots wherever they could. But “that approach has been costly and hasn’t worked,” Zimmer recently wrote in NJ Municipalities. “Instead of trying to build our way out of the problem by increasing supply, we are pursuing an innovative, comprehensive approach to attacking the demand side of the problem. After all, we can’t expect residents to consider driving less if they don’t have better alternatives.”
A conversation with Ian Sacs, the city’s Transportation Director, made it clear that Hoboken’s new trajectory is all about facilitating the ease and convenience — the accessibility and connectivity — of alternatives to the privately owned car. So far, it’s working.