Research Recap, June 21: Transit Spending, Subway Patterns, Suburban Traffic

Dense communities with a wide variety of transport options have less traffic congestion than traditional suburbs. Photo by Todd Mecklem via Flickr.

Welcome to “Research Recap,” our series highlighting recent reports, studies and other findings in sustainable transportation policy and practice, in case you missed it.

Engineering Drives Government Spending

According to a new paper released by the Eno Center for Transportation, “Better Use of Public Dollars: Economic Impact Analysis in Transportation,” government spending on transit is primarily based on engineering considerations rather than community input and economic impact. This leads to projects that do not yield a high return in tax dollars for the amount of money spent, such as highways and bridges. The Eno Center argues that introducing tools for economic analysis will lead to spending on projects that make more economic sense, and it uses four case studies from states around the country to support its position.

Similar Subway Patterns

A new paper published by the Royal Society of London, “A Long-Time Limit for World Subway Networks,” finds patterns in the growth of subway systems with more than 100 individual stations. Comparing subway networks in cities all over the world, author Marc Barthelemy and his team were able to determine that most subway systems share the same basic pattern of a dense core surrounded by branches.

Less Traffic in Dense Suburbs

The Arizona Department of Public Transportation found that residents of compact, mixed-use communities drive less than their counterparts living in sprawling developments, and roads in these densely built communities are also less congested. The results are explained in a new report, “Land Use and Traffic Congestion,” released this month. The lowered congestion rate is explained as a result of the larger number of transportation options available to residents, who may choose to walk, bike, take public transit or drive rather than being restricted to driving.

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