Transportation & Community Development
A diverse, walkable community depends on a transportation infrastructure that provides a variety of ways to get around, serving pedestrians and transit-riders as well as drivers. Quality of life is key to the success of any urban community. A good transportation network also relies on healthy communities. This can be affected by housing sites, affordable and convenient transportation, easy access to shopping and services, safety and equity.
CNT promotes research and action on understanding housing and transportation affordability, revitalizing and developing communities and public involvement in shaping policy. CNT has worked on a number of projects designed to encourage community development and promote transportation options.
Why is this important?
- Housing plus transportation costs give a more complete assessment of affordability than housing costs alone.
- Transportation costs are driven more by neighborhood characteristics than by the number of people in a household or their income.
- Places with access to services, walkable destinations, extensive and frequent transit, access to jobs, and density have lower household transportation costs.
- Creating neighborhoods with housing and transportation affordability requires multiple and targeted strategies and coordination within and across government agencies and the private sector.
- Underutilized transit station areas present an opportunity to create additional affordable and diverse neighborhoods.
To learn more about CNT’s work in Transportation and Community Development, take a look at our projects, tools and resources on this page.
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013 at 5:51 pm
Laying the foundations for long-term, sustainable economic development will require adopting innovative policy solutions to overcome obstacles to growth. Unfortunately, implementing new policy is often politically unpopular, especially when the change involves levying a new charge or increasing taxes to fund investment or influence behavior.
A case in point was illustrated in a presentation given by Dr. Jonas Eliasson of Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology at a recent Earth Day event in Chicago. Like most major metropolitan areas, the Swedish capital had long suffered from acute traffic congestion and all of the economic and environmental problems associated with it. Beginning in the early 1990’s, academics and policy experts had discussed the potential solution offered by “congestion pricing,” whereby drivers pay a fee for use of the city’s roads, the level of which depends upon the time of day and the “zone” of the city in which the driver is traveling.
Advocates of the system argued that putting a price on road use would discourage discretionary motorists from driving into the center of the city, leaving the roads less congested at peak times for drivers who had no choice but to drive. Congestion pricing could also encourage people to explore different commuting options like public transit or cycling, as well as provide a potential revenue stream to pay for road maintenance and investment in transit services.
Supporters of congestion pricing soon learned that developing effective solutions is not enough. Transforming ideas into actual implemented policies required a concerted effort to educate the voting public. As Dr. Eliasson described, early public opinion was predictably hostile to any plan to charge drivers for something that was thought of as “free.” However, with a combination of effective public education campaign and some bold political decision making during the early implementation phase in 2006, residents of Stockholm and the surrounding metro area came to see the benefits of the congestion price.
The public education campaign focused on the idea that the charge wasn’t a tax on driving. Instead, it was a fee that reduced traffic congestion. It reminded commuters that traffic-clogged streets are not “free” to use, and that congestion has costs: wasted time, wasted fuel and damage to the environment.
Residents realized that the congestion charge allowed for better traffic management without the need for expensive and disruptive new road building. Public support for the system, which hovered around 30 percent before the 2006 trial is now at close to 70 percent.
The Stockholm example teaches a number of crucial lessons for those interested in public policy. First, well-designed policy solutions can be practically effective in improving peoples’ lives if implemented and managed in a transparent and competent way. Second, the initial unpopularity of controversial ideas shouldn’t dissuade politicians from embracing bold solutions if they truly believe in them. People will notice the improvement and the system’s popularity will increase. Third, the public will support paying for real investment in improving infrastructure if the benefits are explained clearly and the results are visible.
Residents in cities like Stockholm and Singapore, which also has an effective road-pricing system, saw the positive effects of congestion pricing with their own eyes and were won around to the idea. Voters in Los Angeles and Denver supported the creation of dedicated revenue streams to fund transit expansion and improvement and are already beginning to enjoy the benefit of increased choice and reduced road traffic. There’s no reason to believe that the same wouldn’t be true for the voters of Chicago and Cook County.
What do you think? What type of fee or tax to support an expansion of transit and/or reduction in congestion could you support in your community?
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 at 2:22 pm
King County Metro Transit, the public transportation administration agency for King County, Washington (which includes Seattle), recently released the Right Size Parking Calculator website, an innovative new tool that allows users to view estimated parking use in the context of a specific site for multi-family developments. The calculator was developed in collaboration with CNT, with grant support from the Federal Highway Administration’s Value Pricing Program.
The announcement came at a ULI Northwest luncheon headlined by Donald Shoup, who discussed the art and science of parking.
King County was interested in developing a tool that could be used to achieve a more balanced approach to parking for the region. Outdated parking requirements have led to parking supply that is not reflective of actual demand, which can have a direct impact on a jurisdiction’s ability to create compact, healthy communities.
The calculator can help analysts, planners, developers, and community members weigh factors that will affect parking use at multi-family housing sites. It will help them consider how much parking is “just enough” when making economic, regulatory, and community decisions about development.
“As with much of CNT’s location efficiency work, we have again found that urban form—access to jobs, concentrations of people, and regional transit access—explains travel demand,” said Scott Bernstein, CNT’s president. “Past studies have shown this to be true for auto ownership and use, so it makes sense that where urban form factors are strong, the need to provide parking spaces is reduced.”
The calculator’s estimates are based on a powerful model developed from current local data of actual parking use collected in field work on more than 200 developments in urban and suburban localities in the County. These parking use data were correlated with factors related to the building, its occupants, and its surroundings—particularly transit, parking pricing, and population and job concentrations—to build the model.
Preliminary findings of this research were recently published in the ITE Journal.
King County Multi-Family Residential Parking Calculator: www.rightsizeparking.org
Right Size Parking Project website: http://metro.kingcounty.gov/up/projects/right-size-parking/
For more information, please contact Daniel Rowe at King County Metro Transit.
Friday, March 22nd, 2013 at 5:57 pm
Residential real estate sales prices for properties located near transit are healthier and more resilient than in the broader metropolitan region. That’s the conclusion of The New Real Estate Mantra: Location Near Public Transportation, written by CNT and commissioned by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Although residential real estate prices dropped during the recession in the five regions studied (2006 to 2011 in Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix, and San Francisco), average sales prices for residential properties within walking distance of a heavy rail, light rail, commuter rail, and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) station outperformed the region by an average of 42 percent.
In Boston, transit-served areas (transit sheds) outperformed the region by a staggering 129 percent. In Chicago, home values in transit served areas performed 30 percent better than the region; in San Francisco, 37 percent; Minneapolis-St Paul, 48 percent; and in Phoenix 37 percent.
Transit type had an effect on the stability of average residential sales prices, which benefited more from transit that was well connected and had a higher frequency of service. Stations with higher levels of transit access saw the most price resilience within and across regions. In addition to having higher frequency service and better transit connectivity, these stations also tend to be located in areas that are more walkable, have higher residential density, and better access to jobs.
In addition to more stable residential sales prices, data from CNT’s Housing + Transportation (H+T®) Affordability Index showed that households living in transit sheds had better access to jobs and lower average transportation costs than the region as a whole.
“This study reinforces the body of research indicating the benefits of robust, convenient, and affordable transit systems,” said CNT President Scott Bernstein. “What we see here is that residential proximity to transit not only reduces costs of living and lowers environmental impacts, it also translates to stronger household, municipal and regional economies.”
“Stable property values in areas with public transit access have a number of policy implications,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “As Congress and state and local governments look for ways to accelerate economic growth, this study shows that investing in public transportation is a boon to revitalizing our economy.”
“We are excited to be able to present this initial research, and look forward to expanding it with further analysis using more datasets in more places,” said Bernstein. “This research has the potential to uncover the full value of transit on commercial and mixed use properties, as well.”
The New Real Estate Mantra: Location Near Public Transportation builds off of CNT’s groundbreaking research and publications on issues related to Transportation & Community Development, and Transit-Oriented Development.
Full report: The New Real Estate Mantra: Location Near Public Transportation
A few notes on the method:
- Transit station zones may be overlapping, due to proximity of transit stations. Transit sheds are the aggregate area covered by all transit zones. As a result, transit sheds are not an average of all transit station zones.
- While individual zones may overlap, properties are not double-counted in the transit shed.
- The Employment Access Index provides a measure of the quantity and proximity of jobs to a given place, not a simple measure of jobs per square mile.
- This examination of sales prices of all residential property types in aggregate provides an overall picture of how all residential sales activity contributes to the economy. This is a valuable reference for understanding the potential for value capture, tax revenue, and local investment.
- Averages sales prices, where available, are also broken out in the report for single-family, town homes, condos, and apartments.
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