In my recent post, I was spurred by Professor King at Columbia to discuss the transportation and land use connection and where value might be generated by new transit investments. I concluded that there's transit value creation occurring even in today's environment of ubiquitous automobility.
So, to King's questions, I would suggest that the connection does seem to still matter in some places and it's getting stronger in a few of them.
Well, it wasn't a day before someone in the blogosphere produced a story that fits my theory, a tale about a miraculous place where transit is creating value within an auto-oriented landscape. Yonah Freemark just wrote up a story about Calgary, Alberta and all the transit ridership in their sprawling, mid-sized metro (though relative to the United States, I'd note that it's rather dense).
Calgary is one of the places I've wanted to visit ever since a Canadian friend in my PhD cohort (Thank you, Jake Wegmann) pointed out that the high cost of parking in downtown made it a hyper transit-friendly place. Yonah tells the same story: Easy driving on the periphery, difficulty getting into downtown, a bunch of oil and gas firms that need to agglomerate with lawyers, financiers, and other firms in downtown, and transit service that's fast, frequent, and fun (I added "fun" for the alliterative value and can't actually speak to how fun their transit might be).
It’s an environment that looks a lot more like Dallas or Phoenix than Copenhagen.
The result is that Calgary's booming downtown appears to be one of those places where transit has added considerable value in a small area. On the other hand, the suburbs of Calgary seem to have dispersed land uses with value creation that's broad and shallow (perhaps there a few dense nodes around suburban stations where the transit has provided substantial value lift but those were not discussed).
I expect Calgary's greatest value capture potential has been generated in the downtown where landowners have benefited the most from the reduction in parking demand, the FAR that transit service might enable, and the diversification of tenants (whereas most downtowns might have office buildings with a few restaurants, it sounds like Calgary's downtown property owners benefit from a diversity of land uses). All this has inspired me to investigate the role that real estate has played in Calgary's transit financing.
Ian Carlton is a transportation and land use expert specializing in transit-oriented development (TOD). He helps clients - including transit agencies, planning departments, and landowners - optimize real estate development around transit.
Special thanks to Burt Gregory at Mithun for permission to use the Portland Streetcar image above.