Three recent studies have demonstrated
the desirability of transit-oriented development principles.
The first study, Aging
Americans: Stranded Without Options, supports the
need for age-sensitive, walkable communities. The second
report is the 2004
American Community Survey, which reveals Americans'
preferences for more compact, transit-oriented communities.
The final study, entitled Hidden in Plain Sight, discusses
the increased demand for housing near transit centers.
These three significant reports have all been published
within the last year, revealing the increased demand
for transit-friendly policies and initiatives.
More than one in five (21%) Americans age 65+ do not
More than 50% of 65+ non-drivers stay home because they
lack transportation options
Older non-drivers participate in the community and economy
less than older drivers
Public transit is often the only alternative for older
A safe and inviting pedestrian/bicycle friendly environment
provides health benefits to seniors
More livable communities have higher rates of transit
use and walking among 65+ non-drivers
Public transportation is still not a practical option
for seniors in many communities
Public transportation depends on federal, state and
local government funding to operate
For frail or disabled seniors, specialized transit is
often the only feasible mode of transportation
The study suggests that because the number of Americans
age 65 or older will grow from 35 million today to over
62 million in 2025, communities must adopt age-sensitive
policies to address the needs of seniors as the baby
boom generation nears retirement age. The authors argue
that investment in public transportation must increase
substantially to address these needs, while transportation
planning agencies must pay more attention to the mobility
of the senior population. Finally, the report suggests
an urgent need for road and street improvements to increase
walking and biking opportunities.
Walking in Morristown, NJ
The 2004 American Community Survey conducted
for Smart Growth America and the National Association
of Realtors, reveals the opinions of Americans
on the types of communities they prefer. The report
drew three major conclusions. First, Americans
favor shorter commute times and places to walk
over sprawling communities. Second, commute time
is a very important factor in deciding where Americans
live. Most surveyed felt that the solution to
cutting commute times is to improve public transportation
rather than increase road capacity. Finally, Americans
strongly agree that the priorities of government
and business should lie in improving existing
communities as opposed to building new sprawling
communities located far from cities and older
Plain Sight: Capturing the Demand for Housing Near Transit
was published in September, 2004 by Reconnecting
America and the Center for Transit-Oriented Development.
This report discusses the increased demand for housing
near transit, stating that 25 percent of new households
will look for housing in a ½-mile radius of transit
stations over the next 25 years. The report then suggests
four major conclusions:
Transit-oriented development is regionally-specific:
some regions might need more density around transit
than others, while others might require increased planning
for pedestrian or bicycle-oriented uses.
Development around transit stations could accommodate
a substantial proportion of regional housing growth,
even in regions with small transit systems.
Building higher-density, good quality mixed-use housing
increases both real estate values and the number of
people walking and cycling to work.
Finally, specific regulatory policies such as zoning
and parking need to be revised to ensure that housing
supply meets the increased demand for transit-oriented
These three reports reflect the increased attention
being paid to transit-oriented development principles
and call for policies that address the changing needs
of all Americans.