Alex Marshall is the transportation columnist for GOVERNING and a Senior Fellow at The Regional Plan Association in New York City. His most recent book is The Surprising Design of Market Economies.

Alex Marshall
August 12, 2019

Does Your City Have a Delivery-Truck Policy? It Should.

Booming e-commerce is congesting streets.
June 27, 2019

A Remedy for Urban Dullness

How can you build a great place? Expand the number of people who own it.
June 2, 2019

Why the Virginia Beach Shooting Hits Home

The attack, which killed nearly a dozen municipal employees in my hometown, is a reminder that mass shootings can happen anywhere.
April 17, 2019

In Infrastructure, Embrace the Unforeseen

We often use it in ways not intended. Most of the time, that’s a good thing.
February 20, 2019

Why ‘Density’ Is a Bad Word

It’s often used to describe how people live in urban spaces. But it shouldn't be.
December 14, 2018

What GPS Has Taken Away

Paper maps help us know a place better.
October 5, 2018

Flying Should Be More Like Going to Art Museums

Music, film and visual arts are improving the travelling experience.
August 15, 2018

Why Cities Should Embrace ‘Slow Mobility’

It’s not necessarily about traveling far and fast.
June 13, 2018

How the Mutation of Main Street Is Reshaping Cities

Brick-and-mortar stores are surviving, but what they’re selling is changing.
April 19, 2018

The Broadband Boost Small-Town America Needs

Publicly owned internet networks are giving some rural regions an advantage over even the techiest big cities.
February 7, 2018

A Regional Rail Revival

Efforts to bring back passenger trains are happening all over. We need them.
December 19, 2017

What Elon Musk Doesn't Get

The tunnels he wants to build under Los Angeles would profoundly affect the life of the city.
October 24, 2017

Before Replacing Jobs With Machines, Ask These Questions

For one, what’s the objective -- to improve service, save money or both?
August 28, 2017

The Rise of the Rootless Economy

Increasingly, people are selling everything from everywhere. It’s given hope to communities once shut out of the global economy.
June 1, 2017

The Human Casualties of ‘Winner-Take-All Urbanism’

Are we doing enough for the people left behind in cities?
April 17, 2017

Infrastructure Lessons From Venice

How a city built on water handled its infrastructure gives America much to think about.
March 10, 2017

The Real Illegal-Immigration Issue: Employers

Our cities and states have the most to lose and gain from how we deal with it. What we really need to do is to enforce the laws we already have.
February 16, 2017

5 Simple Urban Fixes for Unpredictable Times

They don’t cost much.
December 16, 2016

Are Car-Free Bridges the Future?

On Portland’s newest bridge, there’s just one rule: no cars allowed. Other cities may follow the progressive city’s lead.
October 10, 2016

Before Joining the Bike-Lane Craze, Consider This

There are many questions that need to be answered before reducing Americans' beloved car space.
August 9, 2016

Blah City

Why aren’t we creating great urban spaces anymore?
June 1, 2016

Immigration and Income Inequality

Are mayors' open-door policies for illegal immigrants hurting their efforts to raise wages?
May 18, 2016

What Jane Jacobs Missed

Her intense focus on the minutia of the streets confuses cause and effect and virtually ignores infrastructure.
April 8, 2016

From 'Her' to 'Mr. Robot': Movies and TV Make Public Transit Hip

Riding the subway is a sign of a good life -- according to pop culture, anyway.
February 1, 2016

When Height's Not Right for Urban Planning

We don't always have to build up to fit more people into a city. Vancouver and Seattle offer alternative solutions.
December 1, 2015

An Old Idea for the New App-Based Economy

Companies like Uber drive money out of local communities and erase the benefits that employees fought hard for. Co-ops could fix that.
October 1, 2015

Of Eyesores and Assets

The way a mid-sized city in Spain built a signature park holds many lessons.
August 1, 2015

Why the Word ‘Infrastructure’ Replaced 'Public Works'

Not that long ago, we hardly ever used or even knew the term. What changed?
June 1, 2015

When Are Planes, Trains and Automobiles Fast Enough?

We travel much quicker than we used to and are still pushing to increase the speed. But that’s not necessarily a good thing.
April 1, 2015

How Airline Mergers and Deregulation Hurt Travel

It seems America has forgotten that air travel is supposed to serve the public.
February 1, 2015

NYC’s Plan for Free, Citywide Wi-Fi

Private companies are paying the city $500 million to transform old pay phones into high-speed Internet hotspots. Is it a plan other cities can copy?
December 1, 2014

The Real Root of Broken Infrastructure: Broken Governance

It’s time to rethink how we manage transit systems.
October 1, 2014

The Economic Case for Free Bridges and Roads

It’s easy for officials to forget that the price of public goods should be kept low in order to increase use and promote economic growth.
September 8, 2014

When Bob McDonnell Was Good

Years ago, the now-convicted politician seemed honest and straightforward.
August 1, 2014

The Death or Life of a Sidewalk Ballet

Are Jane Jacobs’ lively streets disappearing for good?
June 1, 2014

Faster Cars, Hotter Tech, Fewer Drivers

Should government facilitate Americans’ changing relationship with cars?
April 1, 2014

For Infrastructure’s Sake, America Needs Skilled Workers

The United States lags behind other countries when it comes to sophisticated infrastructure in part because it lacks the workers to build or maintain it.
March 20, 2014

Setting Zero as a Goal Can Be a Useful Policy Fantasy

Politicians sometimes promise to eliminate problems like smoking or traffic deaths, but what does that mean for policy?
February 24, 2014

Change Is Gonna Come

Big infrastructure projects shape our physical environments and even the very wealthiest can't stop those changes once asphalt or steel is poured.
February 1, 2014

America’s Days of Dreaming Big Are Over

The United States once dreamed of building great things – like a library in every city – and made those dreams come true. But not anymore.
December 1, 2013

Does Inequality Promote Skyscrapers?

It's not an accident that China and New York City, which have perhaps the greatest distance between their rich and poor, also lead the world in skyscraper construction.
November 7, 2013

New York City’s New Mayor Walks a Fine Line

Bill de Blasio is New York's first populist mayor in several generations. But can he empower the city's residents while avoiding interest-group politics?
May 31, 2013

States, Localities Are Failing to Seize Their Infrastructure Moment

It’s the best time in probably the last 75 years to overhaul and upgrade our infrastructure, but city halls and statehouses are letting the moment slip away.
March 29, 2013

Who Should Control Broadband?

The question of who will install fiber-optic networks and who will control them is key because it could impact decades of economic growth. Telecom giants like AT&T think they should be the only player.
January 31, 2013

Can Greater Government Involvement Solve America's Internet Access Problem?

Many foreign countries provide faster, cheaper and more widespread Internet access than the United States. In most of them, governments are much more involved with telecom policies and funding.
November 30, 2012

Seoul's Transit System Serves as a Model for America

The South Korean capital shows what happens when transit is reorganized to serve the people.
September 28, 2012

How Private Services Became Public

Things we take for granted today -- public police, roads and libraries -- were only achieved through long, hard political battles that lasted decades and sometimes centuries.
July 31, 2012

Bikers, Walkers Need Cities to Protect Them

Without laws protecting pedestrians and bikers, the goal of having truly livable cities in America remains out of reach.
May 31, 2012

America Must Invest in Bigger and Better Infrastructure Projects

Have we lost our capacity to think big? Asia and Western Europe are building a series of infrastructure mega-projects that dwarf our efforts.
March 30, 2012

Encouraging Biking, Walking in Large U.S. Metro Areas

When home, work, school and shopping are in closer proximity, travel is easier. What can cities do to help get people out of their cars and onto their feet?
January 31, 2012

Why Does Our Infrastructure Resemble a Third-World Country’s?

One explanation may be our budgeting process.
November 30, 2011

A Lesson for Passenger Rail, From Roads

A look back at the building of millions of miles of roads shows why passenger rail needs a well-structured bureaucracy in order to succeed.
September 30, 2011

Can Light Rail Unite Two Va. Cities?

Virginia Beach voted against the building of a light rail years ago. Now that it’s up and running in nearby Norfolk, Va., some think beach-dwellers may rethink their decision.
July 29, 2011

Intercity Bus Travel Roars Back

Bus travel between major cities is popular, but operators need strict regulation to avoid a race to the bottom.
May 31, 2011

Improving Ports to Keep Up with the Global Economy

With the expansion of the Panama Canal, states and cities are debating whether to spend money deepening channels and expanding facilities to handle new ships.
March 31, 2011

What to Call the Gas Tax: Not Just Semantics

Calling the gas tax a 'user fee' is logically and factually wrong.
February 1, 2011

Infrastructure Stoppage: Fiscal Prudence or Politics?

Infrastructure projects were once largely bipartisan, but such efforts have been tied up in partisan battles over the role of government.
December 1, 2010

Bicycles' Popularity Grows in Cities

Bicycling has become fashionable. Urban and transportation policymakers take note.
October 1, 2010

Getting in Front of Communication and Transportation Investments

Government keeps adapting to how information and people travel.

Accelerating Amtrak Trains

Will superfast train service in the Northeast ever happen?
June 1, 2010

Installing City-Wide Fiber-Optic Networks

Don't wait to find out if Google will install broadband in your city.

Airport Economics

Big city airports need federal regulations to help weather airline instability.

The Aughts: The Decade of Infrastructure

As the decade ends, there's little to cheer save a notable exception: infrastructure.

Transportation Decisions: Part Calculation, Part Imagination

When it comes to roads, practicality and economics are important. But so is emotion.

The Weaknesses of Sweeping Privatization

The most important question is not whether private investment in roads and other public infrastructure will revive, but the degree to which it should.

Traveling At Good Speed

Transportation policy shouldn't be reduced to average commuting times.

A Bridge to Somewhere

Sometimes, if you build it, they really do come.

The Semi-Fast Track

The stimulus will help roads and transit. It's no panacea.

A Road by Any Other Name

Infrastructure is a vital concept. If only we could call it something else.

Road Show

A city redefines how to use its streets -- even its busiest, most traffic-clogged roadways.

The Comfort Zone

There's more to moving people around than wings and wheels, speed and price.

Our Friend, the Feds

It could be a mixed blessing if federal funding for infrastructure goes on the upswing again.

More than Just a Train

I'm starting to believe the hyperbole about the revolution being spawned by Charlotte's new light-rail line.

King of the Road

What's up with groups that argue for less government but see publicly built highways as an expression of the free market?

Smoothing the Way

Road repair is a rough and tough job that cities need to tackle.

The Streetcar Surge

Streetcars, popular again in a growing number of cities, have the potential to be a vital part of urban transportation systems.

A La Mode

We need to look at economic and life-style questions when we decide on our next investments in infrastructure.

Street Wise

A study compared how well old-city street layouts handled traffic versus modern approaches. The results set off a firestorm.
July 1, 2007

Back Up On the Interstate

The national highway system is marking its Golden Anniversary, but that's not much cause for celebration.

Slow Going

It takes far longer to build a major project today than it did a century ago. Why is that?

Changing Places

Autos and airplanes have a lot in common with the Web and cell phones. Moving people and information around are both transformative.

Running a Railroad

Its schedules are undependable, prices high and on-board service of middling quality. Yet demand for Amtrak's inter-city service grows.

Private Assistance

Not since the expansion of railroads in the 19th century has such a horde of international capitalists been so eager to invest in our transportation.

Soft on Sprawl

A popular planning book praises sprawl and ignores the mess left by misguided transportation policies.

A Bridge Too Far

Whether it's widening an old road or upgrading an intersection, transportation changes the way an area develops and functions.

A Case of Voter Overkill

The death of Seattle's monorail plan is a telling tale of the failure to capitalize on grassroots energy and gumption.

Picking Partners

Should the building of vital infrastructure be left to big business or big government?
December 1, 2005

The Gas Tax's Last Gasp

With the high price of gasoline, drivers are pouring so many dollars into their tanks that Exxon-Mobil reported record profits in October of $10 billion. And that was for one quarter. Paradoxically, drivers were pouring relatively fewer dollars into other entities that depend on gasoline spending: the various state and federal transportation trust funds.

Zen & the Art of Bicycling

How can public policies make cycling safer and encourage people to ride more often? Hint: It doesn't involve helmets.

The Mega-City Maker

Interstates created mega regions, and mega regions will change how we see this country and its transportation needs.
June 1, 2005

Survivor's Guide

It's federal, state and local governments--not individuals or even companies--that determine if a transportation idea sinks or swims.

The Long View

When we decide to build a new highway or train line, we think about unclogging traffic jams. That is shortsighted.