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Making the Case

Importance of Transit Supportive Planning

With the support of Los Angeles County voters and residents, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has committed to implementing significant investments in high-quality transit service and strategies to reduce traffic congestion through the projects proposed as part of the Measure R and Measure M sales tax ballot measures. As Metro continues the process to plan, design, and construct new transit service throughout the county, the agency is also increasing its outreach to Los Angeles County cities to encourage transit-supportive planning efforts. The objectives are to leverage the significant public investment that is occurring and to help distribute the anticipated public benefits of this investment throughout the county.

Transit-supportive planning has the potential to help transform Los Angeles County’s regional land use and transportation landscape towards a more sustainable, multimodal, and low-carbon design. These transit-supportive planning policies are also climate action strategies that can assist local jurisdictions in achieving state and regional environmental and sustainability goals to reduce carbon and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These planning strategies also generate a range of potential benefits to residents, visitors, and businesses alike. Some key benefits to transit-supportive planning include:

  • More efficient use of land area and natural resources
  • Improved air quality
  • Reduced vehicle miles traveled (VMT)
  • Increased transit ridership
  • Improved economic development
  • Increased attraction of private development investment
  • Safer streets
  • Stronger sense of place

How to make the case for Transit Supportive Planning to elected officials

Elected officials play a key role in transit-supportive planning, serving as the legislative body that adopts and approves local plans and projects. Attaining support from elected officials and enlisting these officials as project champions can help create a successful community outreach process. As community leaders, elected officials are in a position to address uncertainty or concern regarding transit-supportive projects by assuring community members that these projects are civic projects that are aligned with the overall community interests and goals. Garnering support from elected officials also encourages private investment as it reassures developers of project longevity and backing from local government.

To encourage support from elected officials, engagement must begin early during the project planning process. Focusing on community benefits that would be provided by transit-supportive planning policies and projects is key. Project leaders should approach elected officials with the goal of highlighting a broad array of community benefits, rather than focusing on one or two areas. Holistic transit-supportive planning happens at the macro (community wide) and micro (location specific) scales. On a macro-level, transit-supportive planning integrates transportation and land use planning to ensure that policies and regulations support multiple modes of transportation, promote alternative modes of travel, and create a sense of place amongst communities. This often lends itself to macro-level benefits such as vibrant public spaces, increased transit ridership, added-value to adjacent properties, and increased property tax revenues. On a micro-level, transit-supportive planning addresses the interactions between various modes of transportation at and around transit facilities. This results in safer streets that are designed for motorists, transit riders, pedestrians, and bicyclists regardless of age or ability, as well as improved access to transit, reduced traffic congestion, and greater internal trip capture (i.e. trips that begin and end within the development without traveling on the external roadway system).

Providing case studies coupled with tailored strategies that show how transit-supportive projects can be implemented within each individual community will build a stronger case for these types of projects and will ultimately help in garnering the support of elected officials.

Six benefits of Transit Supportive Planning

Six Benefits of Transit Supportive Planning - Land Use, Transit/Mobility, Vehicle Miles Traveled/Greenhouse Gas, Public Health, Economic, and Affordability

The following section summarizes six key benefits of transit-supportive places.

  • Land Use Benefits - Transit-supportive land use policies and more compact development patterns provide the opportunities to create healthy communities that have a stronger sense of place, more efficient land use, lower transportation costs, and improved access to jobs, services, and activities. Healthy communities with a strong sense of place attract people to stop, linger, interact, and enjoy the activated public places inherent in transit-supportive communities.
  • Transit/Mobility Benefits - Planning policies that improve access to transit and expand the reach of transit can help retain existing riders and attract new riders. By reducing the barriers to accessing transit and by making transit more efficient and easy to use, transit can become a more attractive alternative to driving. Policies that improve access to transit also typically integrate multiple modes of transportation and include improvements to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and connectivity.
  • Vehicle Miles Traveled/Greenhouse Gas Benefits & Transportation Demand Management -

    Transit-supportive places typically include a mixture of land uses and amenities that are integrated into walkable, bikeable, transit-friendly communities which reduce automobile dependency, carbon and GHG emissions, and improve air quality. A 2010 report published by the Center for Transit Oriented Development (CTOD) found households living in a central city near transit can reduce GHG emissions on average by 43%. Households in the most location efficient transit zones can reduce GHG emissions by as much as 78%. [1]

    Additionally, compact development projects inherent in transit-supportive communities reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) through internal trip capture. The 2010 CTOD report also found that an average Chicago household located near transit, in a walkable neighborhood with access to jobs and amenities has an average carbon output related to VMT that is 43% lower (4.07 tons of carbon) than an average Chicago household in a more remote suburban area (7.15 tons of carbon).

    Furthermore, transit-supportive communities encourage the implementation of transportation demand management (TDM) strategies. TDM strategies are designed to encourage the use of transit, ridesharing, walking, and biking through incentives or marketing efforts on behalf of local or regional organizations. Common strategies include parking management, congestion pricing, ridesharing, and subsidized transit by employers.

  • Public Health Benefits – Transit-supportive planning policies that support pedestrians and bicyclists (e.g. complete streets policies) can help make streets safer for these active modes of transportation and encourage more healthy activities such as walking and biking. By creating more walkable and bikeable streets, residents within a transit-supportive place will be more inclined to leave their cars at home and complete short distance trips by walking or biking to their destinations.
  • Economic Benefits – Transit-supportive planning provides significant opportunities to foster local economic growth. By shifting the transportation paradigm from driving to walking, it can help improve visibility of existing economic activity centers, stimulate the redevelopment of blighted areas, increase property values, increase property tax revenues, and attract private developer investments. Additionally, expansive and integrated transit networks provide improved access to regional job centers and more diverse economic opportunities.
  • Affordability Benefits – A mix of housing options near transit allows communities to provide equitable solutions to families of lower income and rely heavily on transit as their primary mode of transportation. According to Damewood and Young-Laing (2011) [2] , inclusionary zoning policies that requires or encourages developers to reserve a portion of housing for lower income residents may also minimize adverse effects of gentrification, such as displacement.

[1] Haas, Peter, et al. "Transit oriented development and the potential for VMT-related greenhouse gas emissions growth reduction." Report of the Center for Neighborhood Technology for the Center for Transit Oriented Development (2010): 1-64 .

[2] Damewood, R., & Young Laing, B. Strategies to prevent displacement of residents and businesses in Pittsburgh’s hill district (2011) .

How the toolkit will be used by local jurisdictions

The Metro Transit-Supportive Planning toolkit is intended to be used by local jurisdictions to assist in the development of their own local projects, plans, regulations, and ordinances. The toolkit contains a variety of state-wide, regional, and local best practices, as well as case studies that local agencies can draw from. Additionally, the transit-supportive planning toolkit acknowledges that there is no one size fits all solutions for transit-supportive planning and has provided case studies from a range of small, medium, and large communities.