National Links: Transit and Housing

Every day at The Overhead Wire, we collect news about cities and send the links to our email list. At the end of the week we take some of the most popular stories and post them to Greater Greater Washington, a group blog similar to that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

Preparing transit for the future of work: Before the pandemic, only 5 percent of all worked hours were from home. Once the pandemic subsides, that number is expected to increase to 28 percent, a remarkable societal shift. Transit systems in many cities are organized primarily around work trips. This gives urban transit agencies an opportunity to re-organize to support people’s new workaday routines. (Nick Caros | Eno Center for Transportation)

TIre chemicals are killing fish: When researchers followed up on a study that showed salmon were impacted by a tire chemical found in runoff, they discovered that other fish such as trout are impacted by the same chemical in streams near roads. The chemical, which has been used in tires since the 1950s, acts to keep fish from processing oxygen when they breathe. Just a small amount in an urban stream is enough to suffocate and kill trout. (Bob Weber | Toronto Star)

Infrastructure bill a watershed moment for buses: Typically buses are replaced every 12 years and agencies have used limited federal funds for replacement and building facilities. But now there is $2.35 billion available for buses, and agencies should start thinking bigger about how to provide better bus service through capital improvements that might have been unavailable in the past. This includes bus stops, stations and ADA improvements that can make a huge difference in rider comfort and access. (TransitCenter)

Why Christopher Alexander still matters: Urban design pioneer Christopher Alexander passed away last week at age 85. His books, including his best known work, A Pattern Language, are still must-reads for architecture students and computer coders around the world. He even inspired the invention of Wikipedia. What he taught us about design is still important, and we must figure out a way to sustain the environment around us. (Michael Mehaffy | Planetizen)

A lack of transit and housing coordination: The importance of connecting affordable housing and transportation is well known, but connecting them in practice is another matter. New research from the Transit Cooperative Research Program discusses the challenges residents face in education, employment and healthcare when transit is less accessible than it should be. The work also shares solutions that some agencies have been using to bridge the gap. (Mariia Zimmerman | MZ Strategies)

Quote of the Week

“When asked to estimate their annual state gas-tax expenditure, only one in five participants came within 10 percent of the calculated cost. Fifty-five percent of respondents underestimated their gas taxes by more than 10 percent. The other 24 percent overestimated, sometimes by huge margins. People often couldn’t guess how much they paid in state gas taxes, but 52 percent of respondents still thought it was too high.”

Catie Gould in Sightline discussing how voters in Washington state have no idea idea how much gas taxes are.

This week on the podcast, Adie Tomer from Brookings talks about how transit-oriented development and active transportation play into climate strategies.

Jeff Wood

About Jeff Wood

Jeff Wood is an urban planner focused on transportation and land use issues living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jeff blogs at The Overhead Wire and tweets @theoverheadwire. He also shares news links daily from around the country on issues related to cities at The Direct Transfer