It is a community that ……
- Makes the Station a Place in Itself. At the heart of a transit-friendly community is a station facility that is comfortable and convenient for transit riders and is surrounded by uses that create a sense of place or commuters and visitors alike. Retail uses help animate and make a station more secure, while outdoor public spaces – such as a station plaza – can make the rail station a visible focal point in the community, while creating a venue for community activities and events which reinforce the central role of the station in community life.
- Links the Rail Station to Key Districts in the Community. Opportunities to link commercial, cultural, and mixed-use districts to the station often exist. For example, a rail station can provide a welcoming presence and act as a focal point for information and activities that are community-wide in focus. Improving the pedestrian environment around a station also creates an opportunity to revitalize a surrounding business district, by connecting businesses to commuters/customers, and attracting new businesses who may also serve the needs of commuters.
- Supports the District Around the Station and Encourages New Development. Station areas characterized by extensive pedestrian/vehicle conflicts and auto-oriented development, as well as extensive vacant or underutilized parcels of land within a quarter to half mile of a rail station discourage walking and shopping, as well as consideration of a station area as a desirable location for new development. With increasing ridership, an enhanced station setting, and a healthy local economy, however, development pressures around rail stations often increase, and selecting the right kinds of transit-oriented development becomes paramount. Where the local economy is less robust, community development programs can take positive steps to encourage new development in these areas.
- Community Provides Convenient Station Access for Pedestrians and Bicyclists. Rail stations are centers of communities, with thousands of people passing through on a daily basis – creating conflicting demands among rail passengers arriving by car, by bus, on foot, or by bicycle. In the past, decisions about improving access to the station have been largely focused on improving auto access – adding parking and widening roads, for example – to the point where it becomes difficult for people on foot or on bikes to enter or leave the station safely. While auto access plays a key role in most rail stations, other modes of access should be made equally convenient; making the streets and sidewalks around a station more pedestrian and bicycle friendly is part of a balanced approach that will encourage walking, often up to a half mile from the station.
- Balances Parking with Other Means of Access. While accommodating improved pedestrian and bicycle access, and serving as a setting for new development, accommodating commuter parking is still a necessity at most stations, even though the correct amount of parking may vary from station to station. No matter the amount of parking provided, however, it need not completely aesthetically and physically dominate the station setting. If commuter parking facilities can be used evenings and weekends for other purposes, the costs of construction and operation of the parking facility can also be shared. Sheltered and secured facilities for bicycles also should be included.
- Provides Feeder Local Transit Service, Reducing the Need for Auto Access. Very often, community bus services are not geared to commuters going to or from a rail station, and local routes may not serve rail stations at all. This forces many people to drive to the station who might be willing to take a bus as long as the schedule does not involve long waits and there are bus stops conveniently located near their home. Re-routing buses to serve rail stations, and instituting jitney services can reinforce rail stations as community transit hubs.
- Maintains an Ongoing Partnership between Transit and the Surrounding Community. This not only affords an opportunity to pool limited resources, but also encourages the coordination and collaboration necessary for all of the pieces of a station district to fit together and to adapt to changes and new challenges over time.