Friday, August 11, 2017

Talking Headways Podcast: Transatlantic Part 1 - The United States

Here’s the first installment of my two-part conversation with Jonn Elledge, the editor of City Metric and the host of the Skylines podcast. In this episode Jonn interviews me about American transportation, particularly the history of urban subways and light rail, as well as transportation politics and possible futures.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Talking Headways Podcast: Self Driving Cars Getting Drunk on Motor Oil

For the 150th episode of the podcast, this week we welcome back Talking Headways co-founder Tanya Snyder, now a reporter at Politico Magazine. We get into the developing topic of regulating self-driving vehicles, including issues of children’s safety and state versus federal rules. We also discuss aviation legislation in the House of Representatives, what it means for drones, and whether private jets should pay more for air traffic control.

Talking Headways Podcast: Planning Is Easy, Zoning Is Hard

This week’s guest is Lee Einsweiler of Code Studio in Austin, Texas. We talk about all things land use and zoning — what goes into a land use code, the approaches to zoning in different countries, and of course the dreaded topic of parking.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Talking Headways Podcast: Sharing a Ride to the Future

This week’s guest on Talking Headways is Zack Wasserman, head of global business development at Via, a ride-hailing company headquartered in New York. We talk about Via’s role as a trip provider, as well as a software builder for transit agencies, and how we can get more people sharing rides. We also discuss how transportation systems are likely to change in lower density places and the role of technological and policy innovation in both the public and private transportation sectors.

Talking Headways Podcast: Avoiding Carbon Emissions by Taking Transit

This week we’re coming to you from the UITP Global Transport Summit in Montreal with guest Projjal Dutta, director of sustainability at the New York MTA. We chat about the idea of “transit-avoided carbon,” how you measure emissions, and the impact of Superstorm Sandy on sustainability thinking in the New York region.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Talking Headways Podcast: Giving Away TIGER and Transit Money to Wall Street

This week Beth Osborne of T4America and Kevin DeGood of The Center for American Progress join us to discuss infrastructure and the new administration. We talk about the budget process — “skinny” or “thick”? — the possible benefits and drawbacks of public-private partnerships, and the difference between funding and financing.

Talking Headways Podcast: Zero Emissions Cities Are the Key

We’re joined by Patrick Oliva, co-founder of the Paris Process on Mobility and Climate,to talk about the decarbonization of transport. The conversation touches on the electrification of the transportation sector and what it means for climate change, the role cities need to play in the Paris process and what levels of government work best to address climate change, and what the focus should be for mayors in the coming decade.

Talking Headways Podcast: More Than Just a Box

On the podcast I’m joined by Matthew Heins, author of The Globalization of American Infrastructure: The Shipping Container and Freight Transportation. Matthew talks about how the American highway and rail systems created a global standard for shipping containers, containerization’s effects on labor and relevance to an automated trucking future, and the massive intermodal freight terminals in cities like Chicago.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Diridon Station and More Notes from French High Speed Rail

There are a couple of pieces of interest that have come out in the last week talking about high speed rail and TOD at Diridon.  Google is getting involved and SPUR is making case studies on main rail station revitalizations the centerpiece of their most recent Urbanist publication.

In regards to Google, the thinking for the Diridon area is ambitious and much more intelligent than what Apple has done with their suburban campus.  By buying up properties around Diridon, they are putting themselves at the center of a major regional transportation hub with light rail, Caltain, High Speed Rail, a revamped bus network, and future BART extensions that allow them to perhaps in the future spend less on their own private transportation modes.

"Google ultimately intends to buy all the parcels in a roughly 240-acre area that would be needed for the mega-campus, said a person familiar with the matter."

Our good friend and podcast guest host Eric Eidlin is also now in San Jose working on the Diridon project so I want to go back in time and pull out a few quotes from Episode 2 of our French HSR podcast as we think about transforming the area around Diridon Station.

Pull Quotes from Episode 2

Stephan De Fay on Return on Investment
"For its part, the French state, in designating a project to be a [project of national importance], is not saying that it wants to receive a full return on its investment in a narrow financial sense. Rather, it is affirming that it wants its money to produce real effects – real effects on the economy, on the housing market—and that these effects are not likely to materialize simply by allowing development to occur in a laissez-faire, Malthusian way."
Stephan De Fay on Overcoming Political Boundaries
"The issue that surfaced early on with the Grand Paris project was the strong and enduring divide between the governance structures of the City of Paris and that of the surrounding metropolitan region.  Just one figure that is quite awful.  In the Paris urban region, we have 1,483 mayors.  This is awful in terms of governance.  The first step of the Grand Paris was to deal with this.  We realized that it was a matter of economic competitiveness.  In order Paris to be economically competitive with other global cities—and with London in particular—we realized early one that we needed to overcome this governance problem."
Stephan De Fay on Big Development and Transportation Project Timelines
"And one point that bubbled to the top that focused a lot of attention because it’s a very big investment --32 billion Euros in this case—was the transportation project.  But the transportation project was actually not really the primary driver.  It was a consequence of a vision, where of course, mobility was a crucial element.  After articulating the vision, the next step was to figure out how to implement it.  And here we came back to transportation.  Because the problem between transportation and district redevelopment is that the transportation project takes longer than the first steps of the urban redevelopment of the district.  And in fact, you can’t really start the redevelopment of the district in earnest until the transportation infrastructure that will serve it is about to be operational.  It is not enough for this infrastructure to simply be promised.  And this is the reason why the primary focus of the Grand Paris project today is on the transit stations and supporting infrastructure.  Because the stations are the nodes of the urban development of the different districts that surround them."
Stephan De Fay on Governance
"One of the clear challenges that I noticed in California – and this hadn’t occurred to me before coming to California in October – relates to governance.  In France, we have one French railroad company and not 15. When you enter a transit station in the Bay Area, it is very strange.  In San Francisco, for example, when you enter a station it is so strange from a European perspective, that there is a lack of comprehensive passenger information.  And there is no integrated ticketing.  And so on.  But this is a big challenge for the customer.   And it is something that needs to be dealt with both at the station level and the district level."
Etienne Tricaud on Risk and Integration
"I would also like to mention a risk.  Coming from our experience, there is one risk in a project like Diridon or LA Union station.  And it is that some decisions are taken too early in terms of infrastructure, in terms of the types of projects and location of projects around the station that become obstacles for the next steps.  I remember when we were at Diridon, we had discussions, and I understood that some decisions – or perhaps not decisions, but studies – had been made regarding the location of the future BART portal, as well as for a potential viaduct for the high-speed train.  And it is good that studies had been done and reflections made on all of these questions.  But decisions on these things should only be made if – and only if – they are considered at a more global scale.  And to be sure that the decision is really the right answer for a specific item or issue within the global vision"

Talking Headways Podcasts: Dr. Lisa Schweitzer

I took a longer session with Dr. Schweitzer and turned it into two podcasts below.

Lightsaber Fights From Autonomous Pods

Supply and Demand is So Boring