An article in today’s Oregonian outlines the debate at the Federal level on using transit funding as a tool for economic development versus just transportation (in my opinion not instead of transportation, but in addition to it).
The article suggests that this may be an issue for the Streetcar Loop project. I don’t think that’s the case. While we do still have FTA hoops to jump through, the project appears like it will score a ‘Medium’ on the cost effectiveness metric (TSUB, for those of you who follow the details). That coupled with a ‘High’ the economic development stuff should see us through. The real fear was that if we scored ‘low’ on that scale, we’d be in trouble.
But the debate is still important, because it’s all about the difference between access and mobility. Urban circulators (whether bus or Streetcar or whatever) provide lots of access, but since they don’t move people long distances don’t score high on mobility. But when they let people live in high-access environments they avoid lots of long trips which has tremendous environmental benefits (and transportation benefits, as fewer cars are added to highway congestion).
So this is a vital conversation and I hope Congressman DeFazio keeps the heat on FTA to have a broader view of their mission.