Talking Headways Podcast: The Essential Link Between Transit and Land Use

Think land use is none of a transit agency’s business? Think again. Transit routes serving sprawled-out areas draw fewer riders and cost more to operate than routes serving compact, walkable development.

This week, Brian McMahon and GB Arrington join me to talk about our excellent new report, Linking Transit Agencies and Land Use Decision Making. This is a research report the three of us and a cadre of other researchers recently completed for the Transit Cooperative Research Program (part of the Transportation Research Board).

Even though transit agencies don’t usually control growth and development, land use matters to them, Brian says, and this report can help transit agencies make meaningful contributions to land use decisions. The report includes a tool that transit agencies can use to determine how they can step into the land use planning process and shape it to work well for transit, GB explains.

We talk about success stories from New Jersey Transit, Pace Bus, Cleveland (along the Euclid Avenue BRT), and Portland (the Pearl District), and how developers can be encouraged to build transit-supportive places instead of auto-oriented sprawl. Transit agencies can do this by setting expectations early on, before the planning process gets into the stage of developing individual sites, by which point mistakes are usually too late to change.

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