New Federal Bill Would Help Orient Communities Toward Transit

The federal government has a long history of supporting transit, but it’s never played much of a role in promoting the kind of development that helps make those investments successful.

Transit oriented development could soon be eligible for federal loans. Photo: Eric Fredricks via Flickr

Transit oriented development could soon be eligible for federal loans. Photo: Eric Fredericks/Flickr

That’s why David Goldberg at Transportation for America is so excited about a new bill that would help encourage transit-oriented development:

Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) have introduced an important bill to make it easier for communities to support economic development around transit stations.

For any community with a high-capacity transit line —  subway, light rail, bus rapid transit — encouraging walkable development around the stations is a no-brainer. By attracting more potential riders, it makes the best use of the transit investment and helps to build the tax base.

Even more importantly, it helps to meet growing demand for homes and workplaces in neighborhoods with easy access to transit. And who is driving that demand? To a large degree it is the talented young workforce that every area is looking to recruit and retain.

The Transit Oriented Development Infrastructure Financing Act would help provide low-cost financing in the form of loans or loan guarantees under the highly successful TIFIA program, which was expanded under MAP-21. Eligible borrowers, whether a state or local government or public-private partnership, would have to demonstrate a reliable, dedicated revenue source to repay the loan needed for public infrastructure.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Streets.mn lists seven kinds of sites that make great options for urban redevelopment. And Transit Miami explains how local advocates were able to convince authorities to install flashing lights for pedestrian safety, calling it a “drama in three acts.”