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Dispatches from Berlin: What American Cities Can Learn from Berlin

In May of 2009, a group of 10 transportation and regional planning professionals from New York, Chicago and San Francisco attended a Peer Exchange in Berlin, Germany. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification efforts began to piece East and West Berlin together, transportation officials saw the integration of their transit system as an essential component to building a cohesive, comprehensive and unified city. With policies that promoted high-density development near transit, bicycle services and accessibility at rail stations, and a universal fare card system to accommodate seamless mobility throughout the region, some of Berlin's most innovative thinkers introduced their American peers to the process, mechanics, and structure to building a well - coordinated and balanced transportation network.

Therese McMillan is the Deputy Administrator for the Federal Transit Authority. She discusses her experience in Berlin as it relates to the federal government's new Sustainable Communities Partnership. In Berlin, participants learned about Germany's commitment to coordinating housing, transportation and environmental goals in their long-range planning efforts, and learned how these intersecting goals could be achieved. Ms. McMillan examines the direction of FTA's partnership with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Dept. of Housing and Urban Development to maximize resources and provide the greatest benefits to communities nationwide.

Stephen Schlickman is the Executive Director of the Regional Transportation Authority. Mr. Schlickman describes Berlin's vision for the city's Main Station – a signature multimodal transit hub connecting local, regional and high speed rail terminals – and the universal fare card structure for travel in the Berlin region. He also addresses some of the opportunities envisioned by the RTA to improve the efficiency and accessibility for regional and intercity transit in metropolitan Chicago.

Benet Haller is the Director of Urban Design and Planning for the Chicago Dept. of Land Use and Zoning. As Berlin is located in the crossroads of Europe, Chicago is at the heart of America. Mr. Haller details the Chicago Central Area Action Plan's recommendation for the West Loop Transportation Center – a four-level intermodal transfer site to connect local, regional and intercity rail. Using Berlin's Main Station as an example, Mr. Haller discusses the Chicago center's ability to improve connectivity between Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Amtrak, and provide a more extensive and comprehensive rapid transit network in Chicago.


Recorded Tuesday, November 03, 2009 at Metropolitan Planning Council Conference Center.

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