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PCAC staff goes to Rail~Volution in Boston

View of Boston from the Conference Center walkway

Rail~Volution is a conference (nearly 1,000 participants) for passionate practitioners — people from all perspectives who believe strongly in the role of land use and transit as equal partners in the quest for greater livability and greater communities.  Attendees at Rail~Volution cross a broad spectrum of disciplines — including elected officials, developers, advocates, urban planners, transportation experts, financiers, citizen groups, architects and many others.

Silver Line BRT in Boston

Activities include workshops, mobile tours, charrettes and networking events.  Topics include the basic principles for creating liveable communities, keys to successful transit-oriented development (TOD), and emerging issues such as climate change, global warming and energy shortages as they relate to TOD.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Oregon 3rd District, calls the U.S. Congress and conference attendees to action.

Two plenary sessions featured prominent speakers followed by engaging panel discussions.  At the first, Michael Dukakis, former Governor of Massachusetts and James Aloisi, Jr., Secretary of Transportation for Massachusetts were joined by Ron Sims, DeputySecretary HUD, Peter Rogoff, Administrator, FTA, and Derek Douglas, Office of Urban Policy, to discuss emerging Federal partnerships for liveable communities.

For the second gathering, Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, the founder of Rail~Volution, gave a rousing address and then shared the stage with John Porcari, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Jonathan Rose, noted New York developer, and George W. McCarthy, Director, Metropolitan Opportunity, from the Ford Foundation.  Again, the dialogue focused on emerging critical partnerships between the Obama administration, Congress, philanthropic organizations and the development community.

Associate Director Jan Wells took a mobile tour to the city of Brockton, 35 minutes by commuter rail from Boston’s South Station.  At the heart of downtown, the Brockton Area Transit Authority (BAT) has created a multi-phased intermodal center with local and regional bus service.  This transit investment has spurred redevlopment of adjacent industrial sites for mixed use development.

Ellyn Shannon, PCAC’s capital program specialist, visited the Fairmount Corridor in South Boston.  Here the tour group learned how activists have begun restoring disinvested neighborhoods by successfully advocating for better transit equity and affordable housing.


Waiting room of Boston's South Station

Jan and Ellyn also had the pleasure of traveling through the beautifully renovated multimodal South Station which serves Amtrak, MBTA commuter rail, the T subway and the Silver Line BRT.  Food vendors, shops and even a concierge filled the periphery of the great hall waiting area.  While not quite the elegant atmosphere of Grand Central Terminal, South Station is, neve