Mind the Gap: Transit Lessons from New York and London (Panel 4)

Thursday, April 11, 2013
Casa Italiana

A CURE. symposium on transportation and development in London and New York organized by Kate Ascher, Columbia University GSAPP, with support from the Durst Family Fund for Research, featuring:

Andrew Altman, Former CEO, London Legacy Corporation
Peter Anderson, Canary Wharf Group
Kate Ascher, Columbia University GSAPP
Vishaan Chakrabarti, Columbia University GSAPP
John Dickie, London First
Nicky Gavron, London Assembly
Stephen Glaister, RAC Foundation
David King, Columbia University GSAPP
Jay Kriegel, Related Companies
Ian Lindsay, Crossrail Land & Property
Mitchell Moss, New York University
Steven Norris, Former Minister of Transport, London
Robert Paley, Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Seth Pinsky, Economic Development Corporation
Ben Rogers, Centre for London
Jeffrey Rosen, Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Sam Schwartz, Sam Schwartz Engineering
Tony Travers, London School of Economics
Carl Weisbrod, HR&A Advisors
Kathryn Wylde, Partnership for New York City
Robert Yaro, Regional Plan Association
Jeffrey Zupan, Regional Plan Association

Keynote addresses by Isabel Dedring, Deputy Mayor of London, Transport, and Michael Horodniceanu, MTA Capital Construction

As global cities and financial centers, New York City and London have much in common—not least their transportation history. Both committed early to underground rail transportation as a way to ease mounting surface congestion, supporting private franchises which would later become component parts of a municipally owned and operated transit system. In New York, this transit investment followed demand—with rail and later subway connections mimicking the growth of the city northward and eastward from its origins in lower Manhattan. In London, transit investment in many cases led demand: early underground lines connecting central rail stations were followed by lines stretching out of the city to reach undeveloped land and create new commuter suburbs.

The early history of London’s tube is instructive, as London is once again looking to transit investment to help shape the future growth of the city. Over the last three decades, numerous ambitious transit projects—from the Docklands Light Railway to the Jubilee Line Extension and London Overground rehabilitation—have helped to redefine the neighborhoods and hence the property markets in which they are set. Indeed the tie between the two is so strong that the uplift in value resulting from these rail extensions and improvements is now a key ingredient in their funding.

New York, in contrast, has seen no real geographic expansion of its underground rail system over this period. Capital expenditure has instead been focused on bringing the subway system up to a state of good repair and on providing new capacity to relieve oversubscribed rail corridors, such as the Lexington Avenue line on Manhattan’s east side. With the exception of the 7 line extension now under construction, economic development goals have not featured prominently as a factor in the prioritization of transit investments.

For two cities that are considered similar in many ways, the difference in approaches to transit investment is marked. Why has one global city chosen to move forward on so many transit-based economic development initiatives while another has not? What has led to London’s success in using rail transit to regenerate huge swathes of the city? How have these projects been financed? What role have public and private actors played over time in their success? How and what might New York learn from London’s experience? What changes to existing governance or laws might encourage or allow similar investments to be made in New York?

Organized by the Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE.) in partnership with the Centre for London, LSE Cities, and the Regional Plan Association

Sponsored by the Durst Family Fund for Research



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