Growing Denver’s Transit Communities
7/10/2013 3:03 PM
by Rocky Piro, manager of Denver Community Planning & Development
In 2016, Denver will have more than 40 rail stations operating as part of RTD’s region-wide FasTracks transit system. Even more stations will emerge in our neighboring cities shortly after that, as the FasTracks system continues to be built out.
City planners are working with area residents to enhance neighborhoods by planning unique transit communities around existing and future station areas. Transit communities tend to be pedestrian-friendly, with a mix of housing, work and shopping opportunities, located in walking distance from a major transit stop. They’re designed to maximize residents’ access to public transportation and optimize alternative modes of transportation like walking and biking.
In Denver, transit communities aren’t one-size-fits-all. We work closely with our communities to retain and enhance the character of existing neighborhoods near rail stations. Our goal is to make sure station-area development is the right fit for each community.
Transit communities have clear benefits for those who choose to live in them. But they have benefits for residents citywide as well:
· Transit communities have more mobility choices. By creating areas with a mix of activities and uses linked by transit, communities around stations and along our major bus routes provide important mobility options for young people, the elderly, the disabled, people who prefer not to drive, and those who don't own cars. According to national studies, that’s nearly one-third of the overall population in our urban region.
· Living in a transit community can bolster a household’s disposable income. Since housing and transportation rank as the first and second largest expenses in households, respectively, a household can save significantly by living in a transit-oriented community.
· Transit communities play a role in the city’s economic development. Adding new transit station areas to our transportation system helps to revitalize neighborhoods and urban districts, and to enhance local tax revenues.
· Infrastructure costs are lower in transit communities. Since transit communities are more compact — often as a result of infill and redevelopment — the cost to taxpayers is lower for infrastructure projects like water lines, roads, and wastewater and stormwater treatment.
· Transit communities are greener. Increasing trips by transit while reducing trips by car reduces air pollution and energy consumption. Also, a transit-oriented pattern of development can reduce rates of greenhouse gas emissions by 2.5 to 3.7 tons per year for each household.*
What’s Next for Denver?
Today, Denver Community Planning and Development is working closely with other city departments to update the citywide transit-oriented development strategic plan. This update will ensure that we take a thoughtful approach to guiding public and private investment, especially at stations that are best positioned for new residential, commercial, and office development in the next five to six years.
Later this year, as part of the transit strategic plan update, we’ll ask Denver residents to join us for community conversations about transit communities. These meetings will allow us to gather input and help us prioritize next steps in seeing the transit-oriented development vision through to reality.
The Time is Now
We are living in a time of changing economics and demographics, in which more of our population will be living alone or living in smaller households, including our growing senior population and young start-up singles and couples. Through our current planning efforts to grow transit communities in Denver, we’ll keep existing transit communities vibrant and livable, and help emerging ones become healthy and desirable places for people to live, work and play.
Stay tuned and learn more about transit community planning in Denver at DenverGov.org/CPD.
*Statistics from a study by the California Department of Transportation
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