The Transit-Jobs Nexus: Insights for Transit-Oriented Development

By Zimmerman, Rae | Fordham Urban Law Journal, August 2017 | Go to article overview

The Transit-Jobs Nexus: Insights for Transit-Oriented Development


Zimmerman, Rae, Fordham Urban Law Journal


Introduction                                                   1132 I. Analyzing Transit and Jobs for Sustainability               1135  A. The Importance to Society and Sustainability of     Transit and its Proximity to Jobs                          1135  B. Methodologies for Transit and Job Relationships            1136  C. General Patterns and Trends Nationwide for Selected     Bus and Rail Transit Systems                               1137 II. Heavy Rail and Other Fixed Guideway Modes                  1138  A. Shares of Transit Modes Relative to Other Modes            1138  B. U.S. Rates of Change in Heavy and Light Rail Transit       1140 III. HR Systems and Job Characteristics Around HR Stations in      New York City                                             1141  A. Job Density Change                                         1142  B. Job Density or Concentration                               1144 IV. Connectivity and Support Among Transit Systems             1146 V. Factors Influencing the TOD/Job Phenomenon                  1147 Conclusion                                                     1151 

INTRODUCTION

Transit has supported sustainability within, around, and connected to urban areas through job attraction, environmental and climate benefits, and other job-related benefits associated with proximity to transit. The extent to which jobs are attracted to transit varies by urban area, type of rail system, and employment sector. (1) The relationship between jobs and transit accessibility is an important component of sustainability.

Development around transit is typically referred to as transit-oriented development ("TOD"). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") has defined the concept as a "compact development built around a transit station or within easy walking distance (typically a half-mile) of a station and containing a mix of land uses such as housing, offices, shops, restaurants, and entertainment." (2) The type of development varies. The concept of the TOD is an old one, and a review by Ian Carlton linked it directly to sustainability and identified its introduction initially with Peter Calthorpe and the expansion of the term by others. (3) Other reviews similarly support the relationship between rail transit and job density. (4)

Transit systems are typically categorized as including light rail transit ("LRT"), bus rapid transit ("BRT"), street car transit ("SCT"), commuter rail ("CR"), and heavy rail ("HR"). (5) In his article, Professor Nelson evaluates LRT, SCT, and BRT with respect to job attraction, transit accessibility, and characteristics of urban areas that support the job and transit relationship for groupings of certain economic sectors within defined alternative radii around transit. (6) Studies other than Nelson's have examined this relationship using fewer nodes and geographic areas. (7) Nelson's study included eleven LRT, three SCT, and eight BRT systems. (8) These account for about half of the LRT systems, about a third of the SCT systems, and all of the BRT systems in the U.S. (9) The LRT, SCT, and BRT transit systems serve more decentralized populations relative to those served by HR; LRT, SCT, and BRT have been important drivers of TODs, as Nelson observes, and their growth rates support Nelson's focus on these systems. (10) LRT in particular has grown substantially in terms of the number of systems, passenger trips, and miles traveled, as indicated by the analyses of data from the American Public Transportation Association ("APTA") and the U.S. DOT National Transit Database ("NTD"). (11)

While LRT, SCT, and BRT modes generally account for a lower share of transit ridership, they have been shown to have grown the fastest during many time periods according to the APTA and NTD. (12) This Article complements Nelson's emphasis on LRT, SCT, and BRT in highlighting how HR transit also supports job growth. Given the higher ridership that HR can and does support, it has the potential to attract jobs on a larger scale. …

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