Residents of Landmark TOD Still Driving

While more residents walk or bike for nonwork trips, Orenco Station residents are still driving to work at a rate comparable to other area suburbs.

A number of residents work at nearby Intel, and they show much higher rates of walking and biking to work. But ridership is still suprisingly low on the convenient light rail.

""Not everyone in Orenco Station is using mass transit," says Lewis & Clark professor Bruce Podobnik. "It's a great neighborhood and it definitely meets a certain market demand out there, but it's not an environmental utopia."

Orenco was planned and built with mass transit in mind, a transformation from farmland to urban area aimed at the 1998 opening of the westside MAX Blue Line."

Full Story: Residents of transit-oriented Orenco Station still driving cars to work



Orenco suburban commute success

The Oregonian newspaper’s spin on this story does not demonstrate critical thinking. SOV commute mode share is 64% in suburban TOD Orenco and is much higher in suburban Beaverton at 75%, hence Orenco is doing relatively well. (The Oregonian [and Podobnik] get confused about Orenco transit mode share, which is probably 25%.) To achieve 2020 and 2035 carbon reduction targets, we’d like to see suburban TOD have some further innovations applied to get to < 50% SOV mode share. (All new housing built in the US should have < 50% SOV mode share from now on, dangit!) To accomplish this, we’ll have to innovate. The virtuous smart growth best practices toolkit takes us part of the way, but not all the way. The SG toolkit is clearly better than growth as usual, but also is clearly not a panacea for suburbia.

A Silicon Valley report corroborates Sociologist Podobnik’s findings. Smart growth TOD doesn’t work well enough (to protect the climate) in Palo Alto, etc. South Bay Area Caltrain TOD dramatically underperforms compared to East Bay BART TOD (with the majority commuting to auto-hostile downtown SF). Mixed use South Bay TOD housing is so desirable that high driving commuters “crowd out” green commuters in the battle to reside next to Caltrain. Per “Travel Characteristics of TOD in California” (Caltrans funded research authored by Lund, Cervero, and Willson), residential TOD by East Bay BART stations produces 40% transit commute mode share . Residential TOD by South Bay Caltrain commuter rail stations (the majority commutes to SOV-loving free parking offices in Silicon Valley) produces only 17% transit mode share. Thus, South Bay TOD, while outperforming adjacent non-TOD (4% or less transit mode share), is still very auto-centered. Hence we need to improve upon smart growth for suburbs via new innovations.

Steve Raney, Cities21, Palo Alto, CA

Residential TOD Is Only Part Of The Commute

The destination is the other part.

Thanks for these figures. What I get from them is:

Residential TOD around East Bay BART has more transit commuters, because many commute to downtown San Francisco, which has good transit service and little commuter parking.

Residential TOD around South Bay Caltrain has fewer transit commuters, because most commute to suburban office parks with poor transit service and lots of free commuter parking.

Residential TOD is a success. The failure is at the destination.

Charles Siegel

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