Pittsburgh, PA – The Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, a non-profit that advances neighborhood revitalization throughout the region, has released its report, Reinvesting in Pittsburgh’s Neighborhoods, the Case for Transit-Oriented Development. The report, commissioned by PCRG, was developed by the Center for Transit-Oriented Development. Among other things, it identifies the potential that coordinated transit-oriented development (TOD) initiatives have to enhance Pittsburgh’s economic competitiveness; the value transit brings to the region; and the potential of leveraging both to make life more affordable and connect more people to jobs. The report also warns of the impact of transit’s current funding crisis and calls for a realistic, actionable regional vision to advance transit and TOD.
“Despite everyone’s frustrations with transit, it still saves Allegheny County taxpayers well over $1 billion annually and keeps us from building even more costly infrastructure. A regional TOD initiative can build on that and make life more affordable for more people, provide options that the next generation wants, make transit a more viable option for more taxpayers, and connect more people to more jobs and more opportunities” said Chris Sandvig, PCRG’s Regional Policy Manager. He added, “National trends have shown that young professionals want it and the elderly need it. TOD is only one piece – but a vital piece – to our economic competitiveness into the future. Without it, we miss a huge opportunity to attract and retaining talent.”
Noted Ernie Hogan, PCRG’s Executive Director, “The opportunity is ours for the taking, but without a clear, community-led vision, we won’t get there.” Added Sandvig, “This also extends to any new transit investments. Whether bus rapid transit, streetcar, or commuter rail, we fail to maximize the payback if we don’t ensure that transit-oriented development is a priority and implemented in conjunction with the new asset. Otherwise, it’s just another overblown opportunity.”
The report notes Pennsylvania’s current transportation funding crisis as a major hurdle and risk to future competitiveness, stating, “Pittsburgh is facing one of the greatest transit operational budget crises the nation has ever seen. If we cannot take care of – and leverage – our existing transit resources, we stand to lose out on key opportunities for our workers, attracting and retaining young professionals, supporting our elderly, and serving families of all income levels.” Both Hogan and Sandvig point out, however, that the state and TOD are but two pieces of a larger puzzle to restore financial health. “What we should also be looking at, along with our vision,” said Sandvig, “is how we position ourselves to fund that vision. That means the state, of course, but it means getting creative through joint development districts and other local funding so we can take greater control of our future. “