TOD vs."TAD"

Interesting article (here), again found on the Reconnecting America database; by PB Placemaking about Transit-oriented Development along light and heavy rail lines, and true TOD's contrast with what they call T.A.D., or Transit-adjecent Development.

The article makes several points about successful TOD development.

  • The TOD district has to be able to be successful without transit to be successful with transit access.

  • A transit agency is often not the most efficient or effective group to create TOD, instead local municipalities are, who have the necessary development and political clout

  • TODs are shaped by the transit mode, not just adjacent to it (they have buildings exits located towards transit stops, higher density of usage, limited parking, pedestrian-safe, etc...

  • The TOD's transit station must be connected to the developing community, not just near it.

  • Acknowledges (from several other sources) that transit affects development

It also depends, city-by-city, whether the TOD is forced, or planned for, by the supervising agency or it develops by market forces. Apparently several of the TOD projects surrounding DART stops in Dallas, were, unlike those in Portland or San Diego, not planned by DART, but instead put forth by developers. This is quite remarkable for a city that, like the rest of Texas, is known for a solid pro-auto design.

There are several other key points put forth by this report:

  • Planning for the possibility of TOD along transit lines while building the transit system much increases the effectiveness of the resultant TOD

  • TOD can enhance transit systems; it can add riders, increase property values, encourage federal funding, etc.

  • True TOD is illegal in the U.S.; zoning ordinances do not allow for the densities, mix of uses, or reduced parking requirements of true TOD

  • Market for TOD is real and increasing: locations next to LRT showed avg. land premiums of as great as 39% for residential and 52% for office


Neighborhood Dynamic and Rail Stations - Charlotte, NC

Just reading this presentation (PDF) from the CATS light rail system that I found on the Reconnecting America Database. It discusses their various types of light rail stations, and particular types of neighborhoods that each specifically is tailored to fit with. Each of them also has a description of how each has a specific effect on the mobility, it's role in creating a sense of place, and its ability to develop the surrounding land. Heck, it even gives a theoretical site plan of the station type!

It then goes through and applies these types to the potential CATS lines, as well as setting up a chart to outline a strategy to use each station type to develop the surrounding neighborhoods responsibly.

One of the more interesting parts of the presentation is how it takes into account the effect of transit stations, being the focal points they are, in determining the character of a neighborhood, and the varying degrees of effect that stations have in neighborhoods, depending on their ages and strength of character. This is a not often addressed part of transit planning and quality of life discussion.

Kudos to CATS!


SimCity Dreams

Don't you wish that sometimes you could be the SimCity-esque Mayor of a real city? One that had all the powers of those in the game, and had only three things to answer to: yourself, the public opinion, and money? No approval process for giant public works projects, no council to deal with, no having to schmooze with congresspeople to earmark funding? That way thing that needed to get done would? So that your city could be the next Curitaba?

And have a city, where, if you build public transportation, the best routes are picked by efficient computer algorithm, which has access to data that any statistician would salivate over; and the same routes are ridden by all types and incomes of people?

Just need to post this as a reality check; we'll never have a true SimCity in the United States, if nothing else, then because of our quintessential freedoms, but we can always aspire to a city that could be realized on the computer.

No Driving!

I had a thought today after going on an "instructed" drive today (I finally got my learner's permit). Being new at this and all, I was rightfully slightly stressed out...

If one had access to a nice light rail/urban rail transit system, especially one that meshed with a good inter-city rail system, you wouldn't have to undergo the daily stress that is driving a car, especially in cities.

Wouldn't relieving that stress increase your quality of life? Especially if you still had the option to drive?

And with the expensive gas prices nowadays, wouldn't it be better if we drove less (guaranteed to quickly decrease demand) instead of drilling more (who knows if this will really affect global prices at all, ever?), but then again, here we're going into serious matters of human psychology; it's always easier to demand that someone else change something far away than change something that would usually just inconvenience you.


In My Schedule

Hope to talk to Jeff Arndt, a researcher at the Texas Transportation Institute, on Monday, and seek his input into light rail and quality of life effects.

Also, I'll see if he knows of any updated info from DART...


Just got highlighted at M1EK's Bake Sale of Bile!

Thanks Mike!


Economic Impact of Light Rail - Dallas, Texas

Light rail, whenever mentioned as a potential transit scheme, is usually mentioned as a tool of economic revitalization and/or development; densification as well. Held up as one of the prime examples is Dallas' DART system, which has seen several Transit-oriented Development districts. The largest and most widely known of these is Mockingbird Station.

After contacting the American Public Transit Authority, I obtained several copies of various light rail studies, including one, The Initial Economic Impacts of the DART LRT System, which analyzes the economic impact of LRT, and is very helpful in identifying confounding factors in analysis of LRT system effects, including highways, decentralization, relocation costs, changing economic structure, and local public policies.

The study found, using property values data, that in 11 of the 15 areas surrounding DART LRT stations, property values increased between 1994 and 1998, and that the jump in total valuations around DART stations was 25% higher than in control neighborhoods in other parts of the DFW metroplex. Along with this, when looking at land values, average appreciation around DART station was twice non-DART neighborhoods.

Therefore, one can see, at least in one aspect of "quality of life", LRT has a quantitative positive impact on its surroundings.



During my investigation into light rail and quality of life effects, I've shuffled through many different sources. I've looked over several transit news magazines, contacted and conversed with people at transit authorities and transit institutes, as well as monitored blogs and chatted with bloggers.

Just trying to explain my supposed thoroughness.

I have lots of research papers at home, but what I need to do is analyze them, pour over them, and determine their relevancy and after that, use the to compile my "Quality of Life" matrices.

Quality of Life and Light Rail

Trying to find a relationship between "quality of life" and light rail transit development, one must first define the term "quality of life" in respect to transit. The Economist's Quality-of-life Index measures Health, Family Life, Community Life, Material Well-being, Political Stability, Climate, Job Security, Political Freedom, and Gender Equality, most of which are not aspects that one would expect to be affected by the advent of a light rail transit system.

Instead, for my uses, "quality of life" is more importantly determined by more definitively "transit-oriented" factors. Factors such as affected mobility, real estate values, change in transit times, and attracting development. These factors, given quantitative value, can be entered into a "quality of life" matrix, which, factoring in the relative values of each, could give one a "quality of life" score for several different light rail systems, along with comparative bus transit systems, and freeway-only systems.