New Jersey Transit Village Program Continues to Grow

The holy grail for many urbanists contemplating long-term development and growth trends is the transit village. Adding growth adjacent to functional transit has the benefit of making it easier for the new population there to drive less and use transit for a multitude of trips. Likewise, transit villages can add to ridership on the transit lines, no small matter for operators seeking to maintain a consistent customer base.

Mobilizing the Region (MTR) reports New Jersey has added its 21st and 22nd transit villages in Somerville and Montclair. By designating the developments there as transit villages, Somerville and Montclair will get $100,000 planning and technical assistance grants and will move to the front of the line for other state grants the towns may seek.

The newly designated communities are each implementing transit-oriented development in their own way. Montclair is looking to develop around the Bay Street station by adding a commuter parking deck, seven residential developments with 163 units, a municipal fire station headquarters and a day care center. Somerville’s redevelopment efforts include plans to build a performing arts center, residential housing and parking decks near its station, and transform 40 acres of remediated landfill into recreation space with bike and foot trails and fields for residents.

The new grants also got the state’s chief executive on the record touting transit-oriented development. "The Transit Village program encourages local officials to surround nearby transit facilities with a vibrant mix of residential, retail and commercial uses," said New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in a statement. "This type of development spurs sustainable economic growth, maximizes the value of our transit investments and benefits the environment."

The recent designations are not the only news in New Jersey transit villages, according to MTR. Other communities throughout the state are maximizing development near their existing transit infrastructure. Existing transit villages are adding commercial and residential development, pedestrian and bicycle amenities, and, ahem, more commuter parking.

Elsewhere on the Network, The Fast Lane blog examines New York City’s innovative Off Hour Delivery Program, a pilot project funded in part by the US DOT to alleviate traffic by encouraging commercial delivery operators to make more deliveries at non-peak hours. The results of the pilot, which started last October, are promising, with some trucks realizing 75 percent time savings and a reduction in parking tickets. The Bike-Sharing Blog celebrates Velib’s 3rd birthday by noting the world’s (now) second largest bike sharing program has logged 80 million trips. And Commute Orlando has an instructive animation detailing where cyclists should ride to avoid unsafe conditions and bad driving.

  • The Transit Village program is aptly named. Somerville and other towns in the area (including Middlesex, where I grew up) are in fact pre-automobile villages with some suburban flab around the edges. Many of them were once connected by streetcar lines. These inner suburbs are well situated to survive the post peak oil era.

  • Liclovr

    If you’ve ever ridden the NJT train through Elizabeth, NJ you’d have seen a once thriving downtown decimated by excessive commuter parking. Whenever passing through I imagine lightrail or street cars connecting the outer areas of town with the train station downtown. The parking lots could be developed into semi-dense mixed use so the area could be revitalized with sustainable development.

  • JK

    Anyone know what the residential and commercial parking requirements are for these villages? It’s certainly movement in the right direction, but one wonders about the opportunity cost in money and space of building so many more parking decks. Public parking can be the cornerstone of reduced car-use if done right — see Boulder, Colorado for instance. But it entails sharply reducing or eliminating the commercial and residential parking requirement, and properly pricing street parking, in addition to allowing more density. Look at New London, CT for an example of a historic rail/ferry town which has been made unwalkable by parking requirements, surface parking and massive parking decks.

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