When Transit-Oriented Development Is Missing the ‘Transit’

Cities, residents, and developers have a renewed interest in building more housing near transit stations—when they actually provide safe, reliable transit.

2 minute read

September 21, 2022, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


An article by Yvonne Abraham in the Boston Globe questions whether the beleaguered Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) can fix the region’s transit system before developers and residents lose interest in transit-oriented development (TOD), which ostensibly puts people closer to reliable transportation, jobs, and urban amenities, even as developers around the country embrace TOD (often nudged by government incentives to do so).

“In the 1920s, 91 percent of apartment and condo development in Greater Boston took place within a 10-minute walk of a subway, streetcar, or commuter rail stop, according to data from real estate and transportation consulting firm Respoke LLC.” After falling to 16 percent at the height of autocentric development, today, close to 60 percent of multifamily development in the Boston area is now within a 10-minute walk of transit. But do the MBTA’s consistent service disruptions and shutdowns threaten to devalue transit-oriented development?

Not likely, the article concludes. Abraham points out that much of Boston’s growing economy relies on life sciences and other industries dependent on in-person work. Housing and transit advocates are hopeful that the long-delayed repairs will make the T more effective and safe, and developers continue to invest in properties near transit stations. “It may be annoying today, but the Orange Line shutdown might make Boston a better place to live after decades of neglected repair.” But if that doesn't happen quickly, more residents will be forced back into personal vehicles.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022 in Boston Globe

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