Monday, August 12, 2013

Transit Integrated Development

When wide, high-speed thoroughfares divide transit stations from nearby development, the term "Transit Adjacent Development" or "Transit Vicinity Development" may describe the setting more accurately than "Transit Oriented Development."  Central Florida's commuter rail system, SunRail, opening in spring 2014, may have sparked construction of senior housing across U.S. 17-92 in the City of Maitland.  But I would not call it Transit Oriented Development.

"Uptown Maitland" senior housing--not TOD. 

Portland, Oregon showcases true Transit Oriented Development by integrating transit into the urban context.  In fact, Orlando developer Craig Ustler calls Portland, "Transit Integrated Development," an apt term.  Portland makes transit accessible, easy to use, easy to know where one's heading, and easy to transfer between transit modes.

Portland's regional government decided two decades ago to invest in a first-rate transit system.  Portland's Tri-Met light rail system connects the airport to the downtown urban core and beyond.  Stops are easy and convenient to major destinations.   

Red Tri-Met line -- Library to the airport.
Light rail stop at the Pioneer Courthouse. 

The trains are clean, feel safe, and carry a cross-section of people, from those wearing suits and ties, to Moms with children, to Portland State University students.  After riding Tri-Met, I kept revisiting in my mind the Orange County Commission's error in the late 1990's to give Central Florida's light rail system to Charlotte, North Carolina. 

In Portland, it's easy to know where one's heading.  Tri-Met provides maps, not only for the rail lines, but for buses, too.

Maps for bus routes--Portland, OR
I proposed this to a Lynx official a few years ago--and received a litany of excuses: too expensive, routes change, we'll develop a smartphone app, etc.  Maps provide the most basic information that a prospective transit rider requires.  Lynx runs at least two lines outside my office.  If I surveyed the people in my office, I suspect no one would know where either line goes.

Transfers between transit modes in Portland are easy, too.  For $5.00, one can use the light-rail, streetcars, and buses all day with one card.

This is the type of interchangeability that Lynx and SunRail need.