Interest in transit-oriented development (TOD) is soaring. This past Friday, New York University’s Rudin Center held a conference on TOD that was its best-attended conference ever. Meanwhile, Tri-State closed its application process for its new TOD grant program with over 40 funding requests for TOD projects in NY, NJ and CT.
Friday’s conference, “Making the Connection: Transit Oriented Development – A Blueprint for Success,” included remarks and panels addressing transportation and land use, the potential and promise of TOD, and examples of current TOD initiatives in the region and beyond.
Of particular interest was a presentation by Randall Fleischer of Metro-North Railroad, which highlighted TOD projects completed or in the pipeline around Metro-North stations. Metro-North has proposed TOD initiatives around seven Bronx stations (Mott Haven, Melrose, University Heights, Wakefield, Woodlawn and Williamsbridge among them). Farther north, projects are already underway in Harrison and Poughkeepsie. While the MTA has been slow to move forward on a formal transit village program, Fleischer’s presentation shows that individual agencies like Metro-North are indeed making progress.
Douglas Foy, the president of Serrafix and former Massachusetts development secretary under Governor Mitt Romney, gave a keynote address emphasizing TOD as the tool to connect land use planning with transportation needs. Foy emphasized the need for improved coordination within housing, education, and transportation agencies and addressed the economic inequities of a car-centric land use model. According to Foy, the costs associated with owning a car are tantamount to a “$100K mortgage over a car’s lifetime,” or about $6,000 a year, a significant amount of money especially for low to moderate income households. For those unable to afford this expense or those without a car, mobility and economic opportunity (as well as recreational and social activity) becomes contingent on reliable, efficient, and fully-funded transit systems.
Overwhelming Response to TOD Small Grants Program
Also on the TOD front, Tri-State closed the application process for its community grant assistance program (supported by the One Region Funder’s Group and The Fund for New Jersey) at the end of October after receiving over 40 letters of interest from municipalities looking to implement TOD initiatives in their communities. Many of the applicants expressed interest in incorporating affordable housing or green design into TOD projects. Although the groups can offer five to ten grants this year, it is encouraging and exciting to see the growing number of municipalities eager to move towards more integrated, efficient, sustainable, and equitable land use planning. It also means that formal MTA and ConnDOT sponsored TOD programs can’t come soon enough.
Image: Jim Henderson/Wikimedia Commons.