Playing With Politics

A Blog on Law, Politics, Planning, Development, and Other Vices

Posts Tagged ‘San Jose’

Missed Opportunities – A look at the Brookings Institute’s Study

Posted by Roobs on May 21, 2011

What does the Brookings Institute’s Study on Transit & Jobs Really Tell Us?

On May 12, 2011, the Brookings Institute released a first-of-its-kind study that looked at job accessibility in metropolitan areas via transit.  This exhaustive study took on the issue of job sprawl – the decentralization of jobs from the traditional downtown or urban core and out into the suburbs – and found that Western US cities’ transit systems, such as Los Angeles and Honolulu, have better job accessibility than their compact East Coast counterparts.  The reason is because Western cities’ transit systems were designed post-automobile.  That is to say, Western transit systems were designed to connect suburbs to central cities.

In summary, the Brookings study made the following conclusions:

  • Nearly 70% of large metropolitan residents live in neighborhoods with access to transit service of some kind.  This includes bus and light rail.
  • In neighborhoods covered by transit, morning rush hour service occurs about once every 10 minutes for the typical metropolitan commuter.
  • The typical metropolitan resident can reach about 30% of jobs in their metropolitan area via transit in 90 minutes.
  • About one-quarter of jobs in low- and middle-skill industries are accessible via transit within 90 minutes for the typical metropolitan commuter, compared to one-third of jobs in high-skill industries.
  • Fifteen of the 20 metro areas that rank highest on a combined score of transit coverage and job access are in the Western US and 15 of the 20 metro areas that rank lowest are in the Southern US.

Download the Study Here!

The Brookings study did not do one thing that has some critics crying foul.  The study did not look at performance as a function of ridership.  Because the study ignored ridership, instead to focus on job accessibility, does that make the study flawed?  Are its conclusions and ranking of transit systems somehow incorrect because of it? Some say yes. I say no.

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BART – A Love, Hate Relationship

Posted by Roobs on July 12, 2010

I started writing this post a couple weeks ago to talk about BART’s recent Livermore Extension plan.  But instead, it has turned into a post about my relationship with BART; a love-hate relationship.  And as I stop and think about it, I feel no type could describe the relationship between BART and rider better.

Like a lot of transit advocates in the Bay Area, I have an intrinsic issue with BART extension.  When BART comes out and says “we want to extend the system”, my immediate reaction is to raise a Spock-like eyebrow.  These issues are in large part because BART is spending billions of dollars on expanding to areas that have yet to really warrant the exaggerated ridership projections that usually accompany a BART extension proposal.

The problem is that rail lines often merely match the convenience of a car and frequently come at greater than anticipated expense with lower than expected ridership. Given these considerations and a fiscal climate which has forced us to rethink our transit priorities, BART’s enthusiasm for suburban system extensions is misplaced and has the potential to rob the core system of valuable resources.  I believe there is a point when specific modes of rail transit become inefficient compared to other and we should be mindful of the context in which we are trying to connect different parts of a region.

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