I have not mentioned this before, but my favorite planning book in the last year has to be Human Transit. Authored by Jarrett Walker, the book is based on much of what he has been saying on his blog by the same name. Reading his interview with the Urban Land Institute on how developers need to think like transit planners has resonated with me in my own practice.
A significant aspect of my job involves transit-oriented development. My role is to represent my agency as the planning stakeholder. TOD has been the rage in many suburbs in Chicago, particularly the ones with commuter rail. I have a good feeling when I go into a town for a TOD plan which one will succeed and which one will fail. As Walker states:
Even if your development is at a rail station, the bus system is almost always a key part of how a transit-oriented, low-car style actually becomes viable. That’s why it’s important for developers to think about what makes transit useful, which is often very different from what makes it superficially appealing. Only the useful is an enduring value.
I see too many towns that believe that by building development near their train stations that they can breed success. Of course, many of these places do not have bus service of any meaningful kind to provide a modal connection between the commuter rail and the rest of the surrounding area, nor are they willing to drop the parking minimums in the TOD area. Thus, it’s not really transit-oriented but rather transit-adjacent development that is planned. And by not taking into account frequency of service and multimodal connections between bus and rail, many TODs are simply not viable and are instead designed to support the car rather than stand independent of it.