Saturday, May 24, 2008

Giving Transit Expansion to Those Who Plan For It

There was an article in the Ottawa Citizen a few days ago that I didn't get to write up until now. Well Public Transit in Ottawa covered it and Peter discusses the plan to not give neighborhoods new transit unless they agree to more density rules. Seems fair to me, given taxpayers are funding service, they should get the most for their money and a mode that reflects the corridor needs.
One day after the city's transit committee agreed to support the much-discussed Transit Option Four, they added a special note for any suburban constituents or councillors hoping for expansion of the light rail tracks outside the Greenbelt: you'll have to prove that it's a worthy investment by demonstrating greater demand and higher population density.
The only place in the United States I can think of that has this type of rule is the Bay Area and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The MTC is the local MPO and they have set up a system that mandates certain densities for cities to get funding for new transit expansion. And cities take it seriously. A Contra Costa Times article yesterday discusses transit officials in Antioch that are worried they won't make their intensity benchmark if they leave the station in the place for which its planned.
The median location near Hillcrest Avenue would constrain transit-oriented development because of the existing PG&E property, thus making it difficult to reach a Metropolitan Transportation Commission mandate for residential units within a half mile radius of a station, city planning officials said.
I wish more MPOs were as progressive as the MTC. Most of them are just highway money distributors. Here is their policy summed up:
Each transit extension project funded in Resolution 3434 must plan for a minimum number of housing units along the corridor. These corridor-level thresholds vary by mode of transit, with more capital-intensive modes requiring higher numbers of housing units.
Now that residential units are down, there needs to be a jobs policy, because as we noted in a post on jobs, its great to have residential density, but unless it connects to where you want to go, it doesn't really help much.

1 comment:

pitch said...

I'm not sure density should be an issue for expansion. Ultimately, it comes down to whether the residents will ride it or not. They are building a Metro in Dubai that is expected to serve 600,000 people but the density of Dubai is 1/3rd that of an American city. Look at a city like Houston or Atlanta, both are sprawling cities but they really need more transit. Altanta's MARTA has been very successful with 225k daily riders on only 48 miles of track. Houston has 45k daily riders on 7.5 miles of track.

It should be able getting people to where they want and need to go. Eventually, that should equate to maximum coverage on a city, much like you see in Tokyo.