request for inspiration: “transit impact assessments” for development

What advice would you give to this emailer? I'm not especially up to date on development approval processes, and have seen none that really capture the crucial Be on the Way issue:

I was wondering whether you were aware of any municipalities who require a 'transit impact study' or something like it on new residential construction?

Here in Halifax (and I'm sure this is very common), an applicant must do a traffic impact study for any new development to demonstrate that the existing road network won't be wrecked by their plans. However, it seems to me that identifying and labelling transit-unserviceable projects during their approvals process would be a good thing. As you say, choices can be made, and they can still be built, but the fact that they can never reasonably be serviced by public transit should be labelled during the decision-making process.

Are you aware of any examples of this being required during rezoning/development approvals processes? 

8 Responses to request for inspiration: “transit impact assessments” for development

  1. Matthew January 8, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    The Boston Redevelopment Agency seems to require a public transit section in the Transportation chapter of a proposal. Of course the chapter is typically dominated by the usual short-sighted traffic, parking, LoS nonsense. And every single proposal I’ve examined has language almost exactly resembling this: “We assume that traffic will increase 0.5% a year.” I’m not kidding. It’s pretty formulaic.
    But they do also typically describe the public transit options in the area, the frequency and span, and perhaps some other things like bicycle access or car sharing. Not anything more detailed usually. Sometimes NIMBYs turn up at meetings and claim that the trains/buses are too crowded and therefore we can’t permit any more development. You took a question from one of those folks at the Cambridge talk, Jarrett, if you recall…

  2. Alan Howes January 9, 2013 at 4:46 am #

    In the UK, every new development requires a “Transport Assessment”, which covers impacts on both highways and transit. Local Authorities commonly set modal share targets, and developers are commonly required to make financial contributions to transit infrastructure and/or operating costs. Same goes for walking and cycling facilities. The developer has to show that the development is sustainable in overall terms – not just that the highways will cope.
    We gave up on simple “Traffic Impact Assessments” a long time ago – at least 20 years I guess.
    Souns like there’s room for improvement over there.

  3. Alan Howes January 9, 2013 at 4:57 am #

    Just been checking – my guesstimate of 20 years may be excessive.

  4. Paul K McGregor January 9, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    I know of one example in Contra Costa County {CA}in which a developer paid a transit assessment fee per residential unit to provide seed money to start a new bus route to serve this residential area. Once the seed money ran out, the route was evaluated to see if it would become a part of the system. This happened around 2006 and to date, the route is still operating as County Connection route 35 operating between San Ramon and Dublin-Pleaston BART operating primarily along Dougherty Road.
    At VTA in Santa Clara County, I also reviewed EIS and zoning cases for transit concerns. We made our comments as part of the review process.

  5. Chris January 9, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    This analysis should also be done at the strategic planning stage, where future land uses, densities and transport corridors are determined for the whole area.
    (The same should apply to traffic impact analysis – doing it on a development by development basis doesn’t allow assessment of cumulative impacts from multiple developments. Many small developments can be allowed to proceed when each has relatively small traffic impact, but the combined impact can have massive impacts on communities and transport systems.)

  6. Bossi January 10, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    On your visit to DC you might want to touch base with the Montgomery County Planning Department (MNCPPC), as their new Transportation Policy Area Review (TPAR) guidelines include *some* transit considerations… it’s an improvement over where it was before, but still has a long way to go:

  7. Heather January 16, 2013 at 10:00 am #

    The City of Calgary requires that all TIAs include a Transit Service Statement, which identifies which existing routes will service the new development, access to stop locations, etc. Although the assessment doesn’t typically include recommendations for improvement, it can help the approving authority identify gaps in service or potential opportunities for increased ridership, etc.

  8. Nathan Landau January 19, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    In the AC Transit area, Environmental Impact Reports on development projects usually have some statement about impacts on transit. Unfortunately, that statement is usually about whether about the development will cause overcrowding on the bus. This is rarely the case, But typically our issue is the effect that the development could have on the reliability and speed of bus operations. We comment about this repeatedly, but the practice has only changed in some jurisdictions. Nor do the EIRs say anything about the advisability of building in locations with poor transit access. We could really use some generally applicable guidelines on this topic.