I’ve worked on designing, planning and preparing the way for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) projects around the world. For some reason this particular proposed TOD caught my attention. Maybe because I thought I was an expert and in this case I was caught off guard. Or maybe because TOD advocates have made so much progress collectively and yet there is still so far to go. Probably a bit of both.
Over the past decade more than $75 billion in public dollars has been invested in rail transit. Los Angeles, Seattle and Denver alone are investing an additional $65 billion to expand their systems and enhance the livability of their communities. The federal government will be asked to play a major role in funding each of those systems. Up until now the federal role in major transit investments has largely avoided the question of how we ought to design our transit systems to be good neighbors and leverage livable communities.
You drank the Kool-Aid; you know that if you link transit and land use to create transit-oriented development (TOD) the result is fewer car trips and a host of benefits. From Portland to Miami, Boston to Los Angeles, a record number of TODs are being built in the US. Yet most bankers, developers and regulators are drinking from a different cup. As a result the majority of new development adjacent to transit stops in America has been built in a manner oblivious to the fact that a rail stop is nearby.
Part of the conversation in Denver is will FasTracks help the region’s competitiveness and capture more growth than it would otherwise? Or is the best planners can do is to use FasTracks as a tool to grow better by reshaping the growth that is already coming?
Last week I was at an interview for a potential real estate developer client who wanted transit-oriented development (TOD), but weren’t sure he wanted transit. This was a progressive developer who wanted more density, a mix-of uses and walkability. How could it be he wasn’t sure he wanted the planned transit line? Is it possible the developer had it right?