Why Philadelphians Are Head Over Heels In Love With Their Buses

Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Earlier this month, statistics came out showing just how much bus ridership in New York City has plummeted there since the Great Recession. Frankly, it’s shocking. There were 162,000 fewer daily riders on weekdays in 2014 than in 2009 — i.e., roughly six fewer bus rides per year for every New Yorker.

And New York is hardly an outlier. Chicago’s bus ridership dropped 8 percent last year alone. Los Angeles’ was down 3 percent. And Detroit’s swan-dived a staggering 14 percent. Read more »

How Car Sharing Can Lower Rent Costs

Reserved car-sharing parking in Milan, Italy. Source: Shutterstock.com

Reserved car-sharing parking in Milan, Italy | Photo by Shutterstock.com

Last month, Citified wrote about how Philadelphia’s zoning code could help solve the never-ending parking problem here. It turns out there’s another reason to be gung ho about the new law: It could increase the availability of affordable housing in the city. Read more »

Philly’s Most Walkable Areas Are Also Its Whitest


Photo via Shutterstock.com

Safer streets, higher property values, lower transportation costs — these are just a few of the benefits of living in a walkable neighborhood.

It’s no wonder that urbanism writers have touted Philadelphia’s ranking as the fourth-most walkable big city in the country, and Mayor Michael Nutter has signed a “Complete Streets” executive order.

But in Philly and other cities, the gains of walkability have not been realized by everyone. Read more »

The Media Is Vastly Underestimating SEPTA’s Constituency

Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

For the first time ever in a Philadelphia mayoral campaign, all of the candidates in this year’s primary tipped their proverbial hats to the importance of multimodal transit.

This was no more apparent than at the 2015 Better Mobility Forum, which was attended by five of the six Democratic contenders, along with Republican candidate Melissa Murray Bailey. The event, which was moderated by Citified, covered once-niche, increasingly mainstream topics like “Vision Zero,” the elitism of bike lanes, and ways to improve SEPTA. Half the candidates claimed to ride the bus to work, and Bailey said she is part of a SEPTA family.

Hosting a forum on matters of mobility, during the thick of election season no less, is one step forward for the nascent — but viable — political constituency surrounding transit issues, which includes bike advocates, civically-minded pedestrians, and residents who rely on public transportation. That last subset in particular — people dependent on SEPTA — is robust.

And yet, we in the press often minimize how many Philadelphians fall into that camp. Read more »

The Mayoral Election’s Other Big Winner? Doug Oliver.

Photos | Malcolm Burnley

Photos | Malcolm Burnley

In five or 10 years, we may look back at the past three months as the seminal moment in Doug Oliver’s political career. Or maybe not. It all depends on what his next move, or moves, will be. Will Oliver stay on the political track? Or choose the private sector, where he’s likely to have plenty of options?

Oliver’s run — whether it proves seminal or ephemeral — was fun while it lasted. He gave the campaign a badly need jolt of charisma and optimism. His campaign supplied more than a few inspired moments: releasing a fake poll to mess with the press; asking kids at a forum if they considered the police friends or foes; his out-of-the-box TV ad, to name a few examples.

True, he earned just 4.25 percent of the vote. But that was more than Nelson Diaz, and a lot more than Milton Street. It seems likely that Oliver was the #2 choice for a lot of Jim Kenney voters as well, including Jim Kenney himself. Tuesday’s big winner joked at his polling place “I was thinking about Doug Oliver but I voted for myself.”

So despite his fourth-place finish, Oliver is Ed Rendell’s darling and a rising star with a bright political future (if he wants it). Oh, and he did it with a war chest of just $43,000.

Citified sat down with the candidate at his modest post-election party in Germantown, about an hour after the primary was called for Kenney. Read more »

Need Help With the Judicial Elections?

judge upholds Pennsylvania gay marriage ban

There will be 15 judges elected to Philadelphia’s Municipal Court and Court of Common Pleas tomorrow, and chances are you haven’t heard of any of the candidates. Same goes for the primary candidates vying for state court vacancies — including an unprecedented three (out of seven) seats open on the Supreme Court. Don’t feel too bad about it. Even if you were inclined to study up, there’s not a lot of information available to research. Read more »

New Level of Crazy in Ori Feibush vs. Kenyatta Johnson


The already bizarre Ori Feibush vs. Kenyatta Johnson City Council contest took on a truly Kafkaesque quality Monday night, when Feibush hosted a fake debate that was attended neither by his opponent, or the moderator, and then blasted Johnson on social media for chickening out.

Yeah. Read more »

Move Over Millennials — In Philly, Boomers Are Booming


Much has been made of the Millennial “revolution” in this city in recent years, perhaps nowhere more than at this magazine. The attention is probably warranted, for reasons not worth delving into yet again (young adults have brought start-ups and pop-ups and optimism to Philly, yada, yada, yada). But too little attention has been paid to the booming number of boomers (and up) in Philadelphia.

That’s the focus of a new report by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) titled “Ageing in Cities.” Philly is one of nine cities worldwide that are highlighted in the report, as examples of where the challenges of a fast-growing, retirement-age community will emerge. And soon. According to the study, Philly will see a huge increase in this demographic over the next five years: Read more »

Want Your Kids to Grow Up Rich? Move to Bucks

Place matters. | Shutterstock.com

Place matters. | Shutterstock.com

Predicting someone’s future income is not like scouting baseball talent. Statistics on height, weight, arm strength don’t apply. Household income matters, we know that already. But what about kids who grow up with parents in the same tax bracket? It seems farfetched to project which of them will be better equipped to climb the socio-economic ladder, right?

Maybe not, according to a massive new study out of Harvard that has sociologists buzzing.  The researchers posit that a child’s geographic location is a strong predictor of future financial success. Because the study was focused on low-income families, it suggests that place is correlated with upward mobility. “The data shows we can do something about upward mobility,” one of the authors, Raj Chetty, told the New York Times. “Every extra year of childhood spent in a better neighborhood seems to matter.” Read more »

School Closings Are Hugely Controversial, But a New Study Suggests They Boost Student Performance



The two most polarizing words in Philadelphia education might be “portfolio model.” The phrase has induced hunger strikes, enraged Diane Ravitch and paved the way for two dozen Philadelphia public school closures in 2013. If you’re not familiar, “portfolio model” is shorthand for a theory that endorses reallocating funds to higher-achieving schools and closing the lowest-performing schools. It’s a model that has become increasingly common in urban school districts across the country, and the source of consternation from parents and school-choice skeptics everywhere.

The head of the Philadelphia School Partnership, Mark Gleason, bluntly explained the portfolio model this way last year: “You keep dumping the losers and over time you create a higher bar for what we expect of our schools.” Schools activist (and now City Council candidate) Helen Gym responded by calling Gleason “a relentless promoter of questionable reform models that have really wreaked havoc in other places.”

But what does the data say? A new study from conservative think tank Fordham Institute attempts to parse out statistically whether school closures are a positive or negative force on student achievement. The authors claim their findings show that vehement parents in Chicago, Detroit and Philly are wrong, and that there are noticeable improvement in academic scores when students of failing schools are relocated. Read more »

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