2011 was a tough year for transit. Local agencies, still hurting from the recession, continued to slash bus routes and raise fares.
There were a few bright spots in an otherwise gloomy landscape, however, not the least of which was U.S. DOT’s TIGER program. Thanks to federal investments like that, and strong local support in many regions, a healthy number of local transit agencies will break ground or finish construction on major projects in 2012.
Yonah Freemark at the Transport Politic has reviewed them all. He says 2012 is shaping up to be a pretty good year for transit, at least as far as construction goes:
The uncertainty in Congress over the future of funding for the nation’s transportation programs has not yet hit local transit authorities, which will collectively spend billions of dollars this year on enhancements to their local public transportation networks. At least 33 metropolitan areas in the U.S. — and five in Canada — are planning to invest in new BRT, streetcar, light rail, metro rail, or commuter rail projects in 2012. Virtually every American project listed here is being at least partially funded through federal capital grants.
The Obama Administration’s zeal for the distribution of small grants for bus rapid transit and streetcar projects through the TIGER and Urban Circulator programs will play out this year more than ever. Seven cities will begin construction on new streetcar lines (most were supposed to begin last year), and Portland and New Orleans plan to open extensions of their existing networks to the public. At least a dozen cities will either have a new bus rapid transit line under construction or completed by the end of 2012.
Meanwhile, the nation’s largest metropolitan areas have not forgotten their interest in more expensive light and heavy rail lines: Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Salt Lake, and Seattle continue to expand their light and commuter rail networks at a breathtaking pace thanks to strong local funding support. New York, perennially the country’s transit leader, will join D.C., Miami, the San Francisco Bay Area, Toronto, and Vancouver in expanding its metro rail system.
Elsewhere on the Network today: Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space considers the opposition to historic preservation in San Francisco that was the subject of a recent New York Times article. Carfree with Kids, sorting through holiday presents, discusses the implications of auto-oriented children’s toys. And Cyclelicious reports that the great state of Indiana is considering a three-foot passing law.