Walkability and Transit Mean Independence in Golden Years

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Transit-accessible Dupont CircleMost adults want to age in place; that is, grow older without the need to move from their home or community. As driving becomes a challenge, though, seniors can feel dependent upon others, or isolated and cut off from their friends or public services. Communities that have strong public transit systems and walkable amenities are increasingly attractive to seniors for the independence they instill. These places — like Washington D.C.’s Dupont Circle, shown above — are also associated with high housing costs, however, illuminating the pressing need in the U.S. for more transit, and more connected communities, as the Boomer generation ages.


Transit’s Surprising Advantage is Sitting Right in Your Pocket

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab. Edited for this site.]

Metra Commuters

With public-transit use riding a 58-year high of 10.8 billion trips last year, it only makes sense to ask: why? Technology may be partially responsible for public transit’s record ridership, but probably not in the way you think.

As smartphones and other electronic devices have skyrocketed in popularity, more people are becoming dependent on them (much to the chagrin of some psychologists). These technology-dependent commuters want to to remain engaged with their devices at all times, and more of them are choosing public transit for the ease at which they can do so while riding the bus or train.

A new study by DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development finds that the most avid users of mobile devices may be boosting Chicago’s transit ridership numbers, and there is reason to believe this trend is occurring in other metropolitan areas. Apple, Google, and Amazon aren’t just changing the way we work, communicate, and socialize, but are also influencing our transportation choices as well.

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Union Station

Washington D.C.’s Union Station, in addition to being a major train hub and leisure destination, is the busiest Metrorail station in Washington’s system. Customers may exit directly to the Amtrak and MARC train platforms, or, as pictured here, onto street level in front of the station’s entrance. Trivia: This shot of Union Station can be seen at the beginning of Alfred Hitchcock’s film Strangers on a Train (1951), when the Metro entrance was utilized as a passenger drop-off point for automobiles and taxicabs.

Businesses are Moving Back Downtown

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab]

Ann Arbor, Michigan

The deciding factor in Panasonic’s move of its North American headquarters from Secaucus, New Jersey to Newark was public transportation, according to Jim Reilly, vice president of corporate communications.

The company relocated from a large corporate campus with lots of green space to an amenity-rich downtown location. Reilly said his company’s relocation has been “transformative” and has created a more collaborative company culture.

After years of locating in car-dependent, suburban office parks, large numbers of companies like Panasonic are now moving back downtown.

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“The business community in on board with transit. It’s the governing officials who often need to be convinced,” said a spokesperson for the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission. NVTC provided a voice to business leaders, allowing them to express the business case for transit, at an event last week in Tysons. Yes, it was metro-accessible.

Behind the Scenes of a Transportation Tech Start-Up

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab]


It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to compete with the likes of Google, but that’s what a little start-up named Conveyal is doing.

The firm creates digital tools to help transport authorities better communicate the wide array of available mobility options. Its new product is similar in functionality to Google Maps and the many consumer-based trip planners in existence. What differentiates Conveyal’s product is that it provides users with a multimodal view of commuting options in the Washington D.C. region, emphasizing those that are healthy and sustainable.

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