Monday, August 11, 2008

Option of Urbanism: Metro Brings Fundamental Change

This is something we already knew, but it blows back in the face of all those folks who say cities in the United States don't have the density to support transit. In fact, if the land is available to support future density, transit should be an infrastructure given.
Since construction began in the 1970's the Metro system has fundamentally changed how the metropolitan area works... Twenty years ago, there were two regional-serving walkable urban places in the region-Georgetown and Old Town, Alexandria Virginia-both relying on tourism, based upon the historic fabric of these 18th century towns. By the mid-2000s, there were 17 regional serving walkable-urban places in the DC area, and five more are emerging. Of these 17, 16 are built around Metro stations and one without Metro service (Reston Town Center) will get a station by 2012.
This is something that is much overlooked by opponents and people that don't get why transit is important. Sure the Metro takes about 800,000 rides a day, but how many trips by car do those 17 centers bypass? The 800,000 rides is a measure of the transit, but what the cost-effectiveness measure and the FTA misses is the ability of these districts to reduce auto-trips. I wish that DC would do a travel survey that showed the difference between mixed use and good transit versus auto dependence like Portland did in 1994. The investment is paying off.


Anonymous said...

I question the listing of Reston Town Center as a walkable urban place. To me, it feels more like a mall without the roof.

A good diagnostic is where the buses stop. At Reston Town Center, there are no bus stops on the "main street." The bus stop is hidden on the edge of the property next to the bike trail, on the other side of a parking garage from all the mixed use. Like a shopping mall, and not like a downtown.

Thelonious_Nick said...

I'm sorry, I know this is a dated post, but I would like to correct the first post by anonymous, which is incorrect. I was in Reston Town Center just a couple weeks ago and observed a Fairfax Connector bus going down one of the main streets (Market or Library, I forget which). It stopped at one point and let people on and off. This may be a new development, but there is definitely bus service *in* Reston Town Center.