Zoning for Transit Accessibility

Using zoning codes to improve accessibility to public transit facilities is a new, but well overdue, idea.

Read Time: 2 minutes

October 21, 2021, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

The challenge of retrofitting contemporary standards of access for people with disabilities on a subway system well over a century old has long troubled New York City. Now there's a new tool in effort that's about as old as the subway: zoning.

"Mayor Bill de Blasio, the New York City Council and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) have announced the approval of Elevate Transit: Zoning for Accessibility, a collaboration between the MTA, City Council, the Department of City Planning (DCP) and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) to boost New York City’s push to make its transit system fully accessible," according to an article published by the Intelligent Transport website.

"The initiative will allow the MTA to leverage planned private development to achieve a fully accessible transit system faster, while saving taxpayer dollars as the MTA faces financial challenges caused by the ongoing pandemic."

Elevate Transit both creates new zoning tools and strengthens existing zoning tools to incorporate public transit accessibility into private real estate developments. The MTA committed to spending $600 million on accessibility in 2018, eventually raising that number to a total $5 billion investment for accessibility improvements on the subway, the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, and the Staten Island Railway as part of its 2020 – 2024 Capital Program.

As for more specifics, the article includes the following:

  • "This provision requires developers of most mid- or high-density sites adjacent to subway, Staten Island Railway, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad stations within New York City to consult with the MTA first to determine whether the MTA needs an easement (permanent access to a small piece of property) for future accessibility projects at the adjacent station."
  • "This provision expands the existing ‘transit improvement bonus’ from central business districts to other high-density areas in the city. This programme incentivises private developers to directly fund and build new transit station access improvements, such as elevators or other circulation improvements at already accessible stations, in exchange for a floor area bonus of up to 20 per cent."

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 in Intelligent Transport

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Sharrow bike markings on black asphalt two-lane road with snowy trees

Early Sharrow Booster: ‘I Was Wrong’

The lane marking was meant to raise awareness and instill shared respect among drivers and cyclists. But their inefficiency has led supporters to denounce sharrows, pushing instead for more robust bike infrastructure that truly protects riders.

January 26, 2023 - Streetsblog USA

View of stone-paved street with pedestrians and "Farmers Market" neon sign on left and old buildings on right in Seattle, Washington

Push and Pull: The Link Between Walkability and Affordability

The increased demand for walkable urban spaces could make them more and more exclusionary if cities don’t pursue policies to limit displacement and boost affordability.

January 27, 2023 - Smart Cities Dive

View of Tacoma, Washington with Mount Rainier in background

Tacoma Developing New Housing Policy

The city’s Home in Tacoma plan is designed to address the region’s growth and rising housing prices, but faces local backlash over density and affordability concerns.

February 2 - The Urbanist

Green alley under construction

Green Alleys: A New Paradigm for Stormwater Management

Rather than shuttling stormwater away from the city and into the ocean as quickly as possible, Los Angeles is now—slowly—moving toward a ‘city-as-sponge’ approach that would capture and reclaim more water to recharge crucial reservoirs.

February 2 - Curbed

Aerial view of residential neighborhood in La Habra, California at sunset

Orange County Project Could Go Forward Under ‘Builder’s Remedy’

The nation’s largest home builder could receive approval for a 530-unit development under an obscure state law as the city of La Habra’s zoning laws hang in limbo after the state rejected its proposed housing plan.

February 2 - Orange County Register