Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Summit Urges Cities to Plan for Shared Transportation System

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Summit Urges Cities to Plan for Shared Transportation System

Article excerpt

Gabe Klein experienced a prelude of what he expects urban living to be like in the U.S. in the not-too-distant future during a year-end trip to Stockholm and Amsterdam:

In two weeks of travel with his wife, two young children and an au pair, the group was in a taxi for about four minutes. The rest of the time, they used public transportation, biked, shared rides with others or walked.

Pushed by the development of self-driving vehicles, Mr. Klein said, that type of shared transportation model is quickly working its way here. He sees it as an opportunity for American cities to remake a system developed primarily for cars after World War II.

"What we're trying to do is re-engineer what we did in the 1950s," said Mr. Klein, a former commissioner of transportation in Washington, D.C., and Chicago and co-founder of a firm that advises cities how to adapt to new technology. At that time, American society "invented all the wrong things" by designing high-capacity highways to move residents out from cities to suburbs, creating congestion, air pollution and public infrastructure needs that didn't exist before, he maintained.

Mr. Klein served as co-moderator for one of three groups at the National Summit on Design and Urban Mobility held Downtown this week. The summit for 120 planning, design and transportation industry officials from across the country ended Friday with broad recommendations for steps cities should take to prepare for a shared transportation system. A final report intended as a national framework will be published next month.

Mr. Klein's group focused on people and the changes that will be needed to retrain as many as 17 million drivers, parking lot attendants and others who could lose jobs to shared transportation. He urged leaders to use fees, taxes and incentives to push for the results they want.

For example, he said, cities should consider offering rent assistance or other incentives for people to give up personal vehicles and move into urban areas. Public housing, in particular, and other urban developments should consider eliminating parking lots to encourage shared transportation. Parking and gas taxes should be reduced or eliminated in favor of high fees based on miles traveled for private vehicles, especially those used only by a driver. …

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