Eighty people from Minneapolis-St. Paul came to Los Angeles last year to attend the national Railvolution conference, and they were impressed, according to Dave Van Hatten, senior policy advocate for the Twin Cities' Transit for Livable Communities, who wrote this: "In the transportation and land use realm, Los Angeles has earned an infamous reputation as a car-dependent metropolitan region with major air quality problems. Today, however, a historic shift is underway and politicians, planners, and citizens are rallying around a long-term vision of greatly expanded transportation options and reinvigorated communities."

He also noted that most of the sessions at Rail~Volution were a discussion of the importance of a "multi-dimensional approach—i.e. transit and housing, and community development, and school access—that simply wasn’t taught to or practiced by transportation planners and engineers who designed most of the roads, parking structures, and transit systems in place today. This new, integrated approach is leading to significant institutional changes.

"L.A. Metro, for example, has a new definition for the 'highest and best use' of land it owns near transit stations. The new definition considers the long-term importance of affordable housing (which translates into more future transit customers), not just the highest short-term monetary return. And across the country, realtors, housing developers, and home buyers can easily assess the combined cost of housing and transportation at any precise location." (He is referring to, and links to, the H+T Affordability Index, which points out that with rising transportation costs the true cost of affordability needs to measure the combined cost of housing plus transportation.)

Van Hatten concluded that the conference "reinforced my sense that while good ideas often take time, they prevail through the committed efforts of visionary leaders and engaged citizens. Transportation is both access to opportunity and a major shaper of the places we call home."

Read his post here.

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