A Look at the Year Ahead for Transit Expansion

At The Transport Politic, Yonah Freemark has made it a tradition to catalog new transit projects every year. He reports that 2014 will see a significant expansion of rail and bus rapid transit lines. “Virtually every metropolitan region in the United States and Canada is investing millions of dollars in new transit expansion projects,” he writes:

This year, dozens of new lines will open to the public, including light rail lines in Houston, Minneapolis, Edmonton, Dallas, Calgary; heavy rail lines in New York City and outside Washington; and streetcars in Tucson, Atlanta, Seattle, and Washington, among many others. Bus rapid transit — or some variety of it — will see its coming out, with new lines opening in Chicago, Fort Collins, San Diego, Orlando, Los Angeles, and outside Toronto.

In addition, dozens of projects will enter the construction phase, including three rail lines in Los Angeles; bus rapid transit projects in New York City, Oakland, Fresno, and El Paso; streetcars in Fort Lauderdale and Tempe, and more. Other regions, from Honolulu to Portland, will continue work on projects that have already started but won’t be ready for completion this year. It’s a veritable circus of construction activity, almost everywhere. In total, 737 miles of new lines or line extensions, in addition to 10 new stations or major station renovations, will be either complete or under construction in 2014, accounting for a total of $80.7 billion in programmed funding.

A note of caution: This frenzy of construction activity may not be everlasting. The federal government, though much-maligned, remains a primary funder of most major transit expansion projects, through its New Starts/Small Starts capital programs, the TIGER discretionary grant program, or other sources. Yet the freeze on federal funding that has cut resources from Washington tremendously since 2010 will likely have long-term consequences when it comes to paying for new lines.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Green Lane Project blog says too many bike lanes around the United States are being designed like “black diamond” ski hills — for experts only. City Block explains that, whether rational or not, people almost everywhere fear the concept of “hyper-density.” And This Big City reports on how Facebook user data can helps us understand migration patterns.