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3 Steps to Successful Transit-Oriented Development

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Walter Fieuw
Walter Fieuw  
2/17/2014 6:00:50 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Long term
Thanks for joining the conversation kq4ym. What do you think are institutions that can hold this complexity, and drive forward TOD plans? Is TOD too complex to manage, considering all the infrastructure investment, land uses, property development/investment culture, social and economic uses, etc etc to make up a successful TOD neighborhood?

Is it even worth the effort?

Walter Fieuw
Walter Fieuw  
2/17/2014 5:58:30 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: City Transitions
I dont have the answer to that question, but I fully agree with you on points raised. "Long term" can often be a hiding place of inaction and political promises for development with no real tangible outcomes. 

The energy and aspirations of city plans aimed at reconnecting fragmented cities through TOD remains a compelling argument. It has so many interpretations, success and challenges which makes it quite difficult to compare NYC with e.g. St. Paul and Minneapolis, let along with European cities or for that matter Latin American, Asian or African cities. It does seem that a drive towards carbon mitigation and transitions towards more spatially, socially and economically just cities could be achieved through TOD.

I recently saw that the Centre for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) will partner with the Colombian Development bank FINDETER to deliver $20 million (USD) in technical and financial resources to develop TOD neighborhoods in Bogota, Columbia. The article states " Empirical evidence indicates that people drive 30-70 percent fewer kilometers in TOD neighborhoods than in more sprawling, car-oriented development".

When I consider projects like these, and wonder about their application in the African context, I become quite hopeful that there is a possible new way of maximising development along transit corridors. 

kq4ym
kq4ym  
2/15/2014 12:39:24 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Long term
It's such a complex problem, with stumbling blocks including the inability to actually predict growth and needs a decade away. Realistically, there will always be higher density along travel corridors, the problem is to allow for growth in some realistic manner.

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
2/14/2014 11:50:27 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: City Transitions
I think we face two extremes here when it comes to transit planning. Extreme 1 is, let's not do it at all... it's going to cost X number of dollars up front and yet we won't see the value for X number of years. <-- this speaks to your point about needing to "look beyond political cycles." Plenty of great transit projects get tossed aside because they are politically inconvenient.

However, Extreme 2 is something along the lines of what happened in NYC with the 2nd Ave. subway... where a transit project hits so many hurdles along the way that it takes decades upon decades (or, in this case, a century) to come to fruition.

I am fully with you on the need for long-term planning. It's the only way. But how do we define "long-term" so that there is an end date that planners, engineers, and financiers actually adhere to? Delays are expected, and should be factored in, but taking several decades -- or worse, stopping halfway and leaving an unfinished transit project until problems can be sorted out -- isn't an effective way to get buy-in and support, or to make the community feel secure about putting their tax dollars toward transit upgrades.

Walter Fieuw
Walter Fieuw  
2/14/2014 1:40:03 AM
User Rank Blogger
City Transitions
I think what is quite evident from cities countering urban sprawl through transit-orientated development and transitioning towards lower-carbon futures is the need for a long term vision. Sure, there has been so many interpretations of "master planning", "strategic planning" - the list goes on - but for sustainability to work, we need to look beyond political cycles. Developers are still opting for low density development on the edges of cities because the land is cheap and the return is spectacular. Changing old habits takes a lot of time!

Mary and Nicole, point taken. Indeed, the success of TOD depends on shorter term quick wins. A public square, a few high rises, the roll out of station upgrades and/or new construction - all of these will attract investors, and generate the kind of demand for transport that makes public transport viable.

Curitiba set up a dedicated agency to drive city transformation and transition through TOD. The IPPUC continues to monitor the Bus Rapid Transit system. It seems that this too took 30 years to achieve! The Master plan was designed in 1964, and has guided development for the past 30 years.

 

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
2/13/2014 1:02:10 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Long term
Wow. But so many years can mean that neighborhoods shift, demand for transit changes, no? And I can't see what issues would take decades to resolve, if a city needs the transportation infrastructure.

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
2/13/2014 12:52:38 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Long term
I think that having a long-term strategy is inevitable because of the myriad delays and issues that come up over the course of a transit development project. Look no further than New York and the Second Avenue subway line... first proposed in 1929! It may be a full 100 years between when it was proposed and when it opens. And that's me being optimistic by assuming it'll be ready by 2029, which seems debatable at this point.

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
2/13/2014 11:19:11 AM
User Rank Staff
Long term
Thanks for this blog, Walter! One thing that struck me was the length of time between the Twin Cities light-rail plan and its implementation. 30 years is a really long time. I understand that long-term vision is needed, but in all honesty, the entire fabric of a city can change within 10 years, let alone three decades. I don't understand how this could be a practical approach.

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