Friday, January 13, 2012

Did you know?

San Francisco Transbay Terminal’s 5.4-acre rooftop park will include a 1,000-foot-long fountain with water jets triggered by the movement of the buses below. 

Funding Transit with TIFs

A rendering of the rooftop park of San Francisco's Transbay Transit Center.

Tax increment financing (TIF) has been a useful funding mechanism for promoting community development without raising taxes. Historically in metropolitan Chicago, TIF has supported a range of redevelopment projects, including transit construction; but the establishment of a TIF district has been limited to specific community areas that meet certain requirements. Other regions across the country are thinking differently about how they use TIF money. They have modernized their programs to fund transit capital and maintenance across communities, and as a result are reaping economic development benefits thanks to the private dollars that follow public investments.

A traditional TIF district is created during a development period. The tax base is frozen at the predevelopment level on the assumption redevelopment would not occur in the area without public investment or intervention. Property owners continue to pay taxes, but the “tax increment” – tax revenues derived from increases in assessed values that result from new development – is either funneled into a special fund created to retire bonds issued to finance the development, or is used to leverage continued community revitalization by attracting additional private investment.

These goals – stimulating private investment and revitalizing communities – mirror the advantages of transit investment, which benefit much more than riders and motorists: In addition to reducing congestion, mitigating air pollution, increasing mobility options and accessibility, curbing our dependence on foreign oil, and creating jobs, transit leverages private business development, increases nearby land values, and creates development opportunities. So from an economic perspective, it makes sense to consider using TIF funds to upgrade and maintain transit.

That’s why several cities are stretching their limited transit dollars with TIF-style financing. For example, in 2005, the City of Atlanta created a tax allocation district (TAD) to finance the Atlanta BeltLine. The Atlanta BeltLine is a comprehensive redevelopment and mobility project that will build a network of public parks, multi-use trails, and transit, including a 22-mile rail line that will serve 45 neighborhoods and connect to existing MARTA service. The project will cost an estimated $2.8 billion, with the Atlanta BeltLine TAD generating approximately $1.7 billion of the total project cost over 25 years. When the TAD expires after 25 years, the City of Atlanta, Fulton County, and Atlanta Public Schools will receive the entire tax revenue generated by properties within the BeltLine TAD, but at a tax base projected to be approximately $20 billion higher than in 2005 as a result of the redevelopment associated with the BeltLine. 

San Francisco is using TIF financing to support redevelopment of the Transbay Transit Center, a multimodal transportation hub that includes a 1,000-foot-tall office tower, a 5.4-acre rooftop park, and 2,600 new homes (35 percent of which will be affordable). It will connect eight Bay Area counties, 11 transit systems, and be the future stop for the High-Speed Rail line that will run from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Construction will generate more than 125,000 construction jobs and 27,000 permanent jobs. Funding for the $4.2 billion project will come from a variety of sources, including $1.4 billion in TIF funds, of which $171 million will be used to repay a federal TIFIA loan used for the Transit Center construction. It will accommodate more than 100,000 passengers each weekday and more than 45 million people per year, adding an estimated 10,000 daily transit trips in the corridor by 2030 – about 80 percent of which will be diverted from auto travelThe project will reduce vehicle miles traveled by 260,000 per day and reduce emissions by 28,200 tons per year.

A cross-section rendering of San Francisco's Transbay Transit Center.

Thinking Differently about TIFs 

In metropolitan Chicago, TIF funding has supported transit construction in the Loop: 

  • $13.5 million toward the Washington CTA Blue Line station 
  • $1.2 million toward the Lake/Wells entrance of the Clark/Lake CTA Blue Line station
  • $24 million toward miscellaneous Central Loop transit projects

But what about considering a TIF specially designed just for transit? It’s sound economics, as these transit investments have generated a 10 to 20 percent increase in home prices (and the property tax revenues that accompany those bumps). A transit TIF would require amending state legislation to change current TIF eligibility requirements, including the “slum and blight” condition, which limits the application of a TIF to an area that is “rapidly deteriorating and declining.” It’s an idea well worth considering, as cash-strapped transit agencies look for innovative ways to modernize Chicago’s transit system with limited funds.

MPC Headlines

Sign up for Chicago Card Plus I-GO Card and receive $50 in Transit Credit
I-GO is offering a special deal through Feb. 29: New I-GO members can receive a $50 transit fare credit and heavily discounted I-GO membership. You just have to sign up for the convenient Chicago Card Plus I-GO card, which combines your I-GO vehicle access card with your Chicago Card that you use for CTA buses and trains.

Pre-tax transit benefit rolling back in 2012
Beginning on Jan. 1, 2012, the maximum amount Chicagoland commuters can set aside pre-tax to cover transit expenses each month will revert back to $125 (the 2009 level, adjusted for inflation), from its current level of $230/month. However, the maximum pre-tax set-aside for parking expenses will increase to $240/month (up from the current level of $230).

Transforming Chicago's Union Station
With highways and arterial roads plagued by congestion and the price of gas making airline travel more cost-prohibitive, trains – an efficient, economical means of travel – are once again a hot topic. On Dec. 15, the Chicago Department of Transportation outlined a new master plan study for the redesign of Chicago’s Union Station.

Illinois receives $44.2 million in federal TIGER III grants
Illinois was the largest recipient in the nation of the latest round of U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants. The state received $44.2 million of the the coveted and highly competitive TIGER funds, which reward innovative transportation projects that have significant economic and environmental benefits, create jobs, and have a major impact on the nation, a region, or a metropolitan area.



Illinois Tollway: New policy protects privacy
The personal information and travel information of Illinois Tollway users will be safeguarded under a new policy, the tollway announced today. The policy, in effect Jan. 1, is intended to protect the collection and use of personal information obtainedfrom I-PASS customer records and prevent it from being disclosed to outside parties, the tollway said.

CTA Board Approves New Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
The Chicago Transit Board approved the installation of electric vehicle charging equipment at the Kimball/Lawrence Park & Ride lot adjacent to the Brown Line Kimball stop, the first such charging facilities at a Chicago Transit Authority station.

Yellow dot could save lives
A simple yellow sticker could be the difference between life and death for Illinois residents involved in traffic accidents. The Illinois Department of Transportation has unveiled the Illinois Yellow Dot program, an initiative that provides first responders with information that can be critical to a person's care. 

Chicago's 2011 pothole tally hits record
The tally on Chicago's rutted streets and alleys is in, and it's a record: Crews filled more than 600,000 potholes in 2011, or about 25 percent more than in 2010, according to theChicago Department of Transportation.


Editorial: M-1 rail plan must complement rapid buses
Under a plan proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder, rapid transit buses, which can carry as many passengers as quickly as light rail, would run along four regional corridors, including Woodward from Birmingham to downtown Detroit. M-1 Rail CEO Matt Cullen said Monday the rail plan would not preclude bus rapid transit on Woodward from downtown to the New Center.

Oklahoma City's I-40 Crosstown Expressway relieves congestion months ahead of schedule
The federal government provided $600 million to help the Oklahoma DOT expand this important corridor, relieve congestion, and improve access to downtown Oklahoma City. The former 6-lane road is now a 10-lane expressway with ground-level and partially submerged roadways.

Seattle Bridge Toll Eases Traffic. Will It Boost Transit, Too?
Newly-installed tolls across Seattle’s SR-520 bridge have the potential to seriously reshape travel patterns in the region. It’s too early to say whether the tolls’ traffic-busting effects will last, but congestion relief on three major highways would be big news 

SFMTA identifies $24 billion in long-term project needs
Never mind plans for big transit improvements — just keeping San Francisco's transportation infrastructure in a state of good health will be a titanic challenge for The City. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, has identified $24 billion worth of needs for its capital program, which covers long-term planning projects such as the Central Subway and bus rapid-transit networks.

Manual for Organizing Transit Riders Features Creative Community Victories
Good Jobs First today published a grassroots organizing manual for riders of public transportation seeking to preserve and improve transit service. Organizing Transit Riders: A How-To Manual" is a 64-page resource guide that includes six case studies of successful transit-funding campaigns plus interviews with the nation's two oldest transit advocacy groups, the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign in New York and the Bus Riders Union in Los Angeles. 

Traffic Congestion and the Economic Decline of Cities
As the economic recovery continues to lag, one of the nation's job killers, traffic congestion, is re-emerging. After a brief respite during the recession that saw travel times improve, greater travel delay costs us nearly $4 billion more now than in 2008 as more and more people find themselves once again "stuck" in traffic as the economy improves. 

In a recent Reason-Rupe poll, 49 percent of Americans said traffic congestion has gotten worse in the past five years. And 54 percent said they see traffic congestion getting even worse five years from now


Philippines: 2012 budget to help fund PPP projects
With the government's Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Program expected to accelerate this year, the PPP Center estimates that by the middle of the year, the Project Development and Monitoring Facility (PDMF) fund may already be depleted. 

Pakistan: Gilani to inaugurate Business Train on February 3
Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani will inaugurate the much awaited Business Express Train between Lahore and Karachi in the public private partnership, on February 3, 2012. This is the first luxury train which will run under public-private partnership in Pakistan Railways network

Colombia: Medellin Gets Mega Escalator
The 12,000 residents of one hilly Medellin neighborhood used to climb the equivalent of 28 stories to get from the city center to their homes. But an arduous 30-minute walk has been transformed into a five-minute ride, with the installation of an urban escalator system.

Indonesia: Jakartans welcome convenient new Transjakarta corridor
Commuters welcomed the newly launched Transjakarta bus rapid transit Corridor 11, with the hope that the management will maintain its good service and punctuality. Transjakarta Corridor 11, which was officially launched last week, connects Kampung Melayu to Pulogebang in East Jakarta. 

India: AMC’s New Year gift to city: BRTS smart card
Ahmedabad: Two years after the deadline, Ahmedabad Janmarg Ltd (AJL) finally launched Smart Card for commuters using Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) service. 

China: World's Largest Bus Seats 300, Bends Like Beckham
Although China's government and industry (often one and the same) are reluctant to discourage car ownership, they've made great strides in providing attractive alternatives such as public buses and the infrastructure to support them. Developed by Chinese manufacturer Zhejiang Youngman, the 25 meter (82 ft) long JNP6250G is the “world's largest” bus and can carry up to 300 passengers.

Metropolitan Planning Council
Talking Transit is sponsored by Bombardier

Action Alert

Tell President Obama that you support increased fuel efficiency for cars.

This fall, President Obama proposed increased fuel efficiency standards of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 for new cars and light trucks. Adopting these standards will save the average consumer up to $6,600 in fuel costs over the life of a model year 2025 vehicle. A 60-day public comment period opened Dec. 1, 2011, and ends Jan. 30, 2012.

Without your comment, special interests could water down this proposal. Tell President Obama to keep the standards strong so Americans can save money at the pump, our country can import less oil, and our environment can be cleaner. 

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