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Saturday
Nov272010

Transit Oriented Development

Robert Cervero Guru of Transit Oriented Development

University of California

Transit Oriented Development: Backing into the future



The sad truth is that there is very little new in transit oriented development. Cities grew out of dense transit systems from the days of the first large scale horse drawn carriages to the industrial stream machines and later the petroleum combustion engines. It is only post World War II that automobiles allowed for the development of suburbs as far from work places. So, we are now trying to find ways to re-develop and re-design communities and transportation systems to imitate the communities of the past.

The reason for this is that the environmental costs of auto-oriented residential settlement are out pacing the benefits of our housing pattern. The recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico illustrates the dangers of continued oil production. But even more compelling in the move away from auto-petroleum based settlement is the impact of the fact that we are simply running out of oil and substitutes for it. We can develop electric cars but power for them must come from some source. Moreover, our settlement pattern has other consequences on how we live in. Increasingly, research is pointing to increased diabetes, heart disease and related matters are due to the fact that our communities are not oriented to promote walking and other healthy activities. So, transit oriented development is not aimed at simply putting more people on buses and trains but the re-design of communities so the residents can walk to their primary services such as food shopping, recreation and education. While the benefits of transit oriented development are understood, what it is, what it looks like and how we attain it is not as well understood. Defining the new transit orientation

Transit oriented development today is not an attempt to mimic the past, but to build and re-build a future that provides greater choice for movement and options of where and how to live. Transit oriented development integrates uses of mass transit with better organized physical design that allows for people in any community to do most of their daily tasks in or near their communities. Transit orientation also includes more options than the automobile for those 16-20 per cent of movements that get us to and from work or school. So, the major aim is to shrink distances and increase options for movement to include foot, bicycle and other means for major activities. Finally, transit orientation is person interactive which means it presents more opportunities for people to come together. So, transit orientation is a system of activities that alters both the way places are designed and developed, as well as how they are used. What are the types of transit oriented development?

There are many approaches to transit oriented development. In many cases the transit itself is the core of new development and shops and residences are developed along a transit line. This form of development maximizes mixed land uses and integrates economic activities. This type of development is most easily accomplished in places where a transit system already exists and may be under used, like the Red Line corridor in Los Angeles, the Brunswick strip in Melbourne, much of New York’s regional transit system and the Christchurch, New Zealand transit Mall. In this approach public and private activities are promoted that increase the height of buildings along fixed transit systems. This is the old way largely re-using areas that fell into disuse as a result of auto based shopping malls on the edge of the city.

Transit Node Development

Increasingly new transit lines are being extended into suburban areas. In most of these cases nodal based development near or around a transit stop is promoted. This form of development gives the developer a strong hand in the design of the residential and retail mix. This form of development is suburbanizing development by adding transit. The nodes provide opportunities for jobs to move a bit closer to the worker and to provide more opportunities for workers to generate work in or near their homes. This has happened in places like Orinoco Station in Portland, Oregon and Subiaco in Perth.

Transit Adjacent Development

Transit system development is expensive. In many cases the preferred choice is to put the transit system as close as possible to old or new neighbourhoods and/or link existing rail or bus systems to link the transits together, facilitating movement to work areas and primary centres. Transit adjacent development usually means nearby apartments or a similar style of higher rise residential development with adjacent car parking. In essence transit adjacent development shortens auto trips but does not try to make all the links in the transit chain. This form of development is dominates the current movement in transit orientation. It is cheaper and easier to use the bus and dedicated bus ways therefore reducing the coast of fixed rail. This is the principle of the U-ban in Adelaide which is based on bus travel. The classic example is Englewood, Colorado just outside Denver where an old shopping mall anchors intense development. In Plano, Texas the Dallas rail system integrates with developments on an old intercity rail line linking suburban cities near DallasGetting better transit oriented development

While transit has always been linked to some form of residential, commercial or industrial development, the current movement is a different in degree, options and implementation. Good transit oriented development may take any form as long as certain elements are present.

Density. Good development can only flourish if there are goods or people to move. When transit oriented developments are planned and promoted they have to be done with land use and built form development as integral components so ridership is improved and most importantly the areas near, around or parallel to the transit provide more active and mixes of use so the transit system attracts business and community activities that limit the need for using automobiles on a daily basis except for commuting to work or specialized nodes.

Delivering transit oriented development is a set of processes and products. The ‘process’ is to get land use planning right, so that transit by foot, bike and other means is the central part of any planned community. If land use is not planned appropriately, then re-design is required. The ‘product’ components are housing, commercial and community facilities including schools clustered together near mass transit systems that facilitate movements within and between communities.

Linkage. The train to nowhere or to a single destination is not valuable in a transit oriented approach. Transit that links a number of nodes and centres will attract riders and other forms of development.

Magnet infrastructureInter and intra-system transfer capacity

Integration. All forms of work, civic and business uses along with varying residential options need to be assembled within and along transit routes.Fixed and Reliable

Re-Use of existing Transit Corridors

Permanent guide ways or rail lines attract development along them. Buses seldom provide the uptake of business and other users that rail systems do. Fast transfers to other lines or nodes of the transit system with short waiting times are essential or people will not use the system.. Transit should attract new employment or civic facilities that reduce movements and increase access for more people to the key transit centres

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