Thursday, April 10, 2014

Traffic patterns in Philadelphia are changing real estate development

If you don't believe me, check out this article. It's pretty sweet.

The subject caught my attention for a few reasons, as cited within: 1) Major highway traffic is lower than forecasted, 2) Suburbanization is now trending toward the city, and 3) Millennials like to use mobile devices while in transit.

In traditional Philly Urban Living fashion, let's break these down.

1) Major highway traffic is lower than forecasted: This one actually surprised me, as I do drive on the Schuylkill regularly. The decrease in traffic was not only true for the PA Turnpike, I-76, and I-95, but it was also true for the NJ Turnpike (where since 2005, overall volume has decreased by 10%); seriously? So what does all of this mean, and why am I blogging about it? It means that urban populations are rising, it means that downtowns/cities are reaping both private/public investment dollars, and it means that cars are becoming less desirable for many people (especially younger people; we'll get to that). We can get into the nitty-gritty and talk about The Great Recession, rising gas prices, overall car prices, and parking, but in general, public transportation is on the rise in major metros across the country (not just in Philadelphia). This is changing the way we think about getting around our respective neighborhoods/towns/cities, and how we live our lives.

2) Suburbanization is now trending toward the city: As stated in the article, "We had a 50-year period of unrestricted suburbanization, and now there's a dramatic shift." I've talked about this one in past blog posts, many times over. Not because it's my opinion, but because it's constantly being buzzed about in the media. Philadelphia's suburbs are not declining, it's just that preferences are changing; especially amongst the younger crowd. Millennials are a big reason why Philadelphia's population has risen over the past 7 years. There are lots of jobs in Philadelphia. There are lots of restaurants and nightlife/entertainment options in Philadelphia. There is a lot of history, culture, and events in Philadelphia. It's home to our beloved Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, and Flyers. But at the moment, our crime rates are still high and our public schools are very undesirable. Whereas suburban Philadelphia has enjoyed relative safety and great public education since the 1950s. Fix Philadelphia's fledgling public schools, and the biggest reason to flee the city goes away. But as it stands today, preferences are trending toward cities.

3) Millennials like to use mobile devices while in transit: No, really? I feel like I hear about millennials every day of my life now. What do millennials like? What do millennials want? Why do millennials love Twitter? Why do millennials hate Facebook? Why do millennials order pizza, with pepperoni, in their dorm room, on a Tuesday night, before exam week, and pay with AmEx? I don't know, but you get the picture. One thing this article mentioned that really caught my attention, is that you can actively use your mobile devices while riding on public transportation. This is so true, and it's also a reason why so many people text and drive today. People love their phones, and can't stop using them; myself included. If you can read, work, socialize, blog, text, or tweet while you ride to work or dinner, why wouldn't you choose a train/bus over a car. You're there before you know it, and you got some things done on the road; awesome. As we all know already, the most convenient public transportation options lie within Philadelphia proper.

So as you can see, traffic is starting to affect how people think, live, and choose their home. It also affects how investors buy, rehab, and develop real estate.

Who knows, 10 years from now, the President of the United States may be talking to all of us about how we need to create more rail lines. Rather than he/she talking to us about expanding our highways.

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