Promising recent developments

Two recent developments may offer a glimmer of hope for regional light rail: (1) the recent election, and (2) Federal Transit Administration’s January 13 announced revamping of the way proposed major transportation projects are evaluated.

To put it succinctly, the “bad actors” are now off the STA Board, and their replacements seem to be informed listeners without agendas. My hope is that this new STA Board will in fact be characterized by a renewed, informed, visionary, open and transparent dialogue regarding regional light rail, devoid of personal agendas. Let’s see if STA at least gives the new Board a chance to “weigh in” before doing anything rash,  or worse — stupid.

With respect to FTA, their new policy is to now include economic development and environmental benefits when evaluating projects. Read that as admitting, “sustainability and livability matter.”  This monumental about-face is HUGE! They removed their blinders and now admit that “getting there” will be only part of the equation when it comes to evaluating proposed transit projects for financial assistance under their New Starts and Small Starts programs. Their action unequivocally validates the Light Rail Steering Committee’s (and InlandRail’s) contention that transit projects must be evaluated holistically when considering and comparing the merits of competing proposals. 

Let’s see if these new developments give the regional light rail effort any momentum.

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