April 20: Domb defends 20-year abatement | Check your neighborhood’s transit quality | Book Bot

The Center for Neighborhood Technology released a new tool called AllTransit for assessing the quality of transit in your city and neighborhood, reports Angie Schmitt. “The tool combines route and schedule information from 805 American transit agencies with a wealth of Census data, making a broad spectrum of uses possible. With AllTransit, you can compare different facets of transit service across neighborhoods, cities, regions, states, or electoral districts.” Philadelphia’s AllTransit score ranks 7th, but the rankings may be the least interesting aspect of the tool.

A grant from the Federal Transportation Administration will allow SEPTA to add 25 emissions-free electric buses to its fleet next year, Jason Laughlin reports. “The new 40-foot buses should hold up to 77 passengers and will travel Routes 29 and 79 in South Philadelphia, chosen because they are flat and short, good testing ground for a pilot program.”

At Citified, Councilman Allan Domb published a new op-ed responding to Matt Ruben’s critique of his proposal for a 20-year tax abatement on properties worth less than $250,000. Here’s our report on the details of that proposal. 

The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation is celebrating 50 years of community development work in Chinatown, reports Alaina Mabaso. “[I]ts advocacy on behalf of local residents and business owners has spanned fair housing provisions for residents of homes razed in the path of the Convention Center expansion; successful opposition to a new sports stadium in the late 1990s; and a voice in other development projects from the Gallery Mall to Independence Mall. Now, the organization is moving forward on its massive Eastern Tower development.”

The new Temple library’s “book bot” system allowed Snøhetta to conserve space in their design, making more room for student space, says Dana DiFilippo. “The library card catalog will become as ancient as an Allosaurus in this new library, where robots will retrieve books. While 10 percent of the collection’s most recent and popular books will remain accessible for browsing, the rest of the 2 million books will be sequestered into extremely compact shelving, accessible only by an automated robotic crane, said Joseph Lucia, Dean of University Libraries.”

Michael Lewyn thinks cities need to stop giving near neighbors a veto over ‘missing middle’ housing like small apartment buildings and mid-rise mixed-use buildings, which fall between single family homes and large high-rises. Philly tends to have more of these housing types than many places, although only a small share of the city’s land area is zoned to allow mixed-use or multi-family structures. 

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