US High Speed Rail Association

DC: Congressional City Conference: Robust Transit Systems and Transit Oriented Development Key to Economic Development

Representatives from the US High Speed Rail Association (USHSR) attended the National League of Cities’ annual Congressional City Conference in Washington, D.C., a conference focused on supporting economic recovery and job creation by encouraging Congress to end gridlock. The conference brought together over 2000 elected and appointed city leaders.

Of particular interest was a session titled “Transit-Oriented Economic Development.” Presentations were given by Craig Thurmond, mayor of the city of Broken Arrow; John Holman, councilmember for the city of Auburn; Clifford Graves FAICP; and Sarah Kline of Transportation for America.

“The session highlighted Millennials who are bombarding their members of Congress with calls for inexpensive housing, solutions to pay off their students loans, and transportation choices that reduce or eliminate the costs associated with car-related monthly expenses,” said Joe Shelhorse, USHSR vice president.  “Baby Boomers who would like to sell their homes in the suburbs to enjoy everyday culture living offered by cities are also calling on Congress for change.” 

In response to the pressure for change from both Millennials and Baby Boomers, speakers explored the link between transit-oriented development (TOD) and economic development and the importance of well-developed transit systems that connect consumers to local business. Speakers agreed that a coordinated effort from all city departments is necessary to create a healthy local economy based on a robust transit system.

One model held up during the session was Denver RTD’s very popular Union Station project, which is generating a high-level of economic development associated with TOD. The TOD is also helping to fund the station project itself.

These topics and new trends will certainly be a focus at our upcoming rail conference June 2-4 at Autodesk Center in San Francisco.