CNT in the News

The Gross Gatherings: A climate fight on Chicago's South Side

WBEZ's Heat of the Moment | May 18, 2016

Burns got back in touch with the Center for Neighborhood Technology, the organization that held that meeting she attended.

Together they started working on flooding issues in Chatham. They gathered data and learned that the Chatham area had the highest number of flooding insurance claims in the city. That sounds like bad news, but it also was kind of affirming for Burns, because she now had tangible proof of what a big problem Chatham was facing.

“We weren’t really understanding how endemic the problem was or how expansive,” she recalled. “There wasn’t this groundswell of activity to say, ‘Hey, this is ruining homes. Diminishing home values. And really demoralizing as a homeowner.’”

Armed with this information, Burns and CNT organized neighbors, people like Cheryl Watson, the woman at the start of this story.

CNT also helped Burns get a special back-up valve installed. These valves are expensive and a lot of people can’t afford them. But it’s a good fix for an individual home because it stops sewage from coming back through your pipes. Burns said it’s worked really well; she no longer gets nervous and rushes home during every storm.

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Charlotte’s transit among nation’s worst

Charlotte Observer | May 14, 2016

News that the state legislature is considering repealing its $500,000 cap on light-rail projects is a boon for North Carolina’s cities.

Its removal, however, should be a first step rather than an end goal. North Carolina’s boomtowns severely need transportation options that complement – rather than work against – the rapid urbanization they are seeing.

Consider Charlotte. According to AllTransit, a new online tool developed by the Center for Neighborhood Technology with support from TransitCenter, public transportation in North Carolina’s largest city is still anemic by national standards despite some successful recent investments.

On AllTransit’s scale of 0 to 10, Charlotte scores a 4.33 for its transit quality. That’s 26th out of the 32 U.S. cities with more than 500,000 people and behind other sprawling places like Dallas, Houston, and Phoenix. Overall, 58 percent of Charlotteans live in areas with scores below 5. Just 1.6 percent live in neighborhoods scoring 9 or above.

In sum, most of Charlotte lacks the high-quality transit Americans increasingly demand. And even where it does exist there are barriers to using it, since few people live, work, and play in areas all well-served by buses or the Blue Line.

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Far from the city, far from recovery

Washington Post | May 5, 2016

A 2011 study by the Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology found that most of Loudoun County’s commuters traveled 26,000 to 35,000 miles a year to work. Less than 10 percent used public transit. They spent $1,280 to $1,770 a month on transportation, and that didn’t even account for the time sopped up sitting in traffic.

“What is the time value of the hour and a half you spend commuting each way?” Fleming said. “If you really calculated, would you have bought that home out there? That’s why all these exurban areas are struggling to recover. Because there is not the demand.”

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New buildings near 'L' mostly aimed at well-to-do

Chicago Tribune | May 2, 2016

Chicago has more than two-dozen mostly upscale transit-oriented projects in the works or completed — including by the Paulina stop on the Brown Line and by the old Dunkin' Donuts — referred to as "Punkin' Donuts" for its onetime punker clientele — site at Belmont and Clark.

Transit-oriented development supporters say affordability has become a hot topic nationwide — and that more needs to be done to both build and preserve transit-friendly housing and retail for a variety of incomes.

"Every city is grappling with the same problem," said Kyle Smith, TOD manager at the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a Chicago-based urban research group. Smith said public funding — including Chicago Housing Authority vouchers — is needed to supplement what's being done by private developers to serve low- and middle-income people.

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Conversations on commuter rail service to El Paso begin

Las Cruces Sun-News | April 30, 2016

Scott Bernstein, president and co-founder of the Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago, who attended the Las Cruces meeting, said he was optimistic commuter rail service in southern New Mexico and far west Texas could succeed.

"There are other metropolitan areas that already have commuter rail that don't have the combined population that El Paso and Las Cruces do," Bernstein said. "One of the reasons we're on this project is because we know how to say 'no.' But, we think there is great potential here."

David Chandler, principal business analyst for the CNT, said commuter rail between El Paso, Las Cruces and Spaceport America, could be "a feasible, useful and desirable service."

"The questions that need to be answered include, 'Is the market big enough?' 'Is there connectivity to other forms of public transportation?' and 'Is there a culture for using this service?'"

Chandler added there is more than 1 million people living in the Las Cruces-El Paso area, and U.S. Census projections estimate the population could increase to 1.5 million by 2040.

"Job growth is in tandem with population growth," Chandler said.

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See How Your Town’s Transit Stacks Up to Hundreds of Other Cities

Wired | April 21, 2016

IN THE WORLD of public transit, data is a valuable thing. And historically, it’s been the purview of public transit agencies. They’re the folks who know where the buses are, and they use their own, often archaic systems—paper schedules mounted on bus shelters, for example—to dole out select info to the public.

In recent years, that dynamic has changed. Cities, states, and countries are embracing the idea of open data, turning all their information over to any company, group, or citizen interested in doing something productive with it. In an era where smartphones are nearly as common as people with hands, government is now the platform, not the product.

When’s your bus actually going to show up? How do you get from the dog park to that new music venue? Want to share your route with friends in real time? Apps with answers abound.

Still, all those data sets, provided by a plethora of public agencies, have been fragmented. If you wanted to know how your transit agency stacks up with the one across the river, or how well served your part of town is compared to your coworkers’, you were signing up for a lot of work. That’s now changed, thanks to a new tool appropriately called “AllTransit.”

The impressively comprehensive online tool was released this week by the nonprofit research institutes Center for Neighborhood Technology and TransitCenter. The result of a year spent compiling data from 805 agencies, 543,787 stop locations, and 15,070 routes across the country, the tool provides an unprecedented look into nationwide transit access and equity.

AllTransit promises to assess the quality of transit in your neighborhood—or your congressional district, or your city, or your region, or your state. Plugging any of these into the tool and you get an “AllTransit Performance Score” on a ten-point scale. The score rewards places where transit connects lots of households to lots of jobs, where buses and trains come frequently, and where high shares of commuters use transit to get to work.

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