UPenn Law School is hosting a forum on “Urban Policy and the Presidency” on Thursday with reps from the Obama and Clinton campaigns. They’re discussing important urban policy topics, like economic development, affordable housing, and environmental justice. But, like so many “urban policy” discussions, transportation isn’t on the agenda

. Update: it is after all.

Transportation drives economic development by enabling more areas to become walkable neighborhoods where housing and shopping becomes desirable. Transportation creates affordable housing by saving commuting costs and allowing more housing units per square mile than driving-oriented areas. It improves environmental justice because highway construction usually results in poorer neighborhoods being bulldozed for new interchanges.

A new investment in transit would be the best thing to happen to cities since the old days of substantial investment in transit, when building subways under the countryside of Manhattan’s Upper West Side and the Bronx in the early 1900s ended staggering overcrowding in Lower Manhattan and made New York City what it is, or when building Metro in the 1970s saved DC.

Cities are more than just poverty, I’ve argued in the past. And without a discussion on transportation, any policy conversation about cities is diagnosing the patient without checking the heart. Thanks David from Urban Law Forum for the correction. So many forums make urban policy all about classic anti-poverty spending type programs; good to see this one isn’t so narrow.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.