Transit impact on neighborhoods

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Transit impact on neighborhoods

Postby ferroequinarchaeologist » Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:02 am

Quote: Professors at Northeastern University in Boston examined 42 neighborhoods in 12 U.S. cities in 2010 and found that housing costs near rail stops increased after light-rail service started in many markets. "A new transit station can set in motion a cycle of unintended consequences in which core transit users are priced out in favor of higher-income, car-owning residents," the authors wrote.

The full article is in today's Wall Street Journal. I find it strange that these academics consider neighborhood improvement to be an "unintended consequence" and that "core transit users" are defined as those who can't afford any other means of transportation. This is wrong on so many levels. Oh, wait - these are academics - forget what I said.

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Re: Transit impact on neighborhoods

Postby Disney Guy » Tue Jun 11, 2013 7:15 pm

ferroequinarchaeologist wrote:... I find it strange that these academics consider neighborhood improvement to be an "unintended consequence" and that "core transit users" are defined as those who can't afford any other means of transportation. This is wrong on so many levels.


Question for an academic:

What is the "this" in "This is wrong ..."? (In 25 words or more)

it would be technically possible but politically impossible to present a greatly improved neighborhood around a transit station to low income people.

1. A special (property tax) taxing district encompassing the area around the station.

2. Fare and/or tax breaks for rental tenants and owner occupants in the environs of the station.

3. Traffic signals highly optimized for transit and pedestrians and perhaps certain corridors leading to park and ride facilities.

4. Free parking for residents made unusually scarce although there may be provision for some reserved spaces allocated by dwelling unit as opposed to first come.

5. A means of evicting disruptive residents.
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Re: Transit impact on neighborhoods

Postby joshg1 » Mon Jun 24, 2013 11:53 pm

I have a problem with the idea that increasing housing costs is an unintended consequence. A quick survey of real estate listings in areas with rail service show higher rents near stations and "close to train" a frequent selling point. Maybe the proposal for a rail line won't include that in the submittals to funding authorities, but we all know what's going to happen.

Pushing lower income/resource residents out beyond the liveliest metropolitan areas is a trend I brought up in another thread. (Some) Cities are coming up the world and the vast rural and "small town" America is going to grey and attract the poverty we used to think of as urban. This is a generalization.
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Re: Transit impact on neighborhoods

Postby Elcamo » Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:48 pm

joshg1 wrote:I have a problem with the idea that increasing housing costs is an unintended consequence. A quick survey of real estate listings in areas with rail service show higher rents near stations and "close to train" a frequent selling point. Maybe the proposal for a rail line won't include that in the submittals to funding authorities, but we all know what's going to happen.

Pushing lower income/resource residents out beyond the liveliest metropolitan areas is a trend I brought up in another thread. (Some) Cities are coming up the world and the vast rural and "small town" America is going to grey and attract the poverty we used to think of as urban. This is a generalization.


Obviously housing costs are going to increase with the addition of transit, as now (theoretically) it will cost less time and money for residents to commute to work, making the area more desirable. You do have a point in that the suburbs will become more attractive as prices for suburban real estate plummets, but is that neccessarily a bad thing? We SHOULD be making more dense, urban settings more desirable to live in, not keeping them in the dark and away from transit improvement so that communities can remain poor and low income.
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Re: Transit impact on neighborhoods

Postby joshg1 » Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:48 am

You do have a point in that the suburbs will become more attractive as prices for suburban real estate plummets, but is that neccessarily a bad thing? We SHOULD be making more dense, urban settings more desirable to live in, not keeping them in the dark and away from transit improvement so that communities can remain poor and low income.


I don't like "me, too" posts, but a big thumbs up on the second part. Only I see this happening as the result of the millions of choices that make up the the free market, "should" only comes into it if a city won''t let a developer build dense projects near transit. Worth noting that the people who start new businesses want to live and work around other people who do the same. The planning term is "innovators". Suburbs will do fine- some people want a yard, massive amounts of office space along 128 and 495- it's the exurbs and remote small towns that will decline, and the original post refers to the accompanying population shifts.
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Re: Transit impact on neighborhoods

Postby Arborwayfan » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:01 am

I think all of you may be missing the point of the article, or at least of the research that it's based on. (Remember that we're looking at a WSJ report of some of the conclusions of a much longer academic report.) I think the point is not to say that it's bad to attract well-off people to areas with transit (especially if they leave one of their cars behind). The point is that attempts to help poor people by improving transit in their neighborhood may change the neighborhood by pricing them out of the market and bringing in new people with more money. And if you've planned a project to help the people who live in a particular place, and the project ends up chasing them out, the project has failed to do what it was supposed to do, EVEN if making city life more attractive to well-off folks is good. In fact, if someone planned a transit improvement and expected all the same people to keep living there, that planner wasn't paying attention. It's a long-running dilemma of urban policy: neighborhood improvements can help residents, but they can also lead to residents being forced out, and planning has to balance those two possibilities. Unless you just believe the market fixes everything, in which case you're logically opposed to the T, I-93, and every other centrally-planned and/or subidized government service.
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Re: Transit impact on neighborhoods

Postby Finch » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:24 pm

^^^^^ This.
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Re: Transit impact on neighborhoods

Postby Rockingham Racer » Fri Jun 28, 2013 7:44 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the old mills in Lawrence and Haverhill that are in eye-shot of their stations been re-done into residences?
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Re: Transit impact on neighborhoods

Postby Matthew » Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:47 pm

The point is that attempts to help poor people by improving transit in their neighborhood may change the neighborhood by pricing them out of the market and bringing in new people with more money.


One of the reasons why we should discuss land use planning alongside transportation planning. The most obvious step that needs to be taken along with transit improvements is the development of more housing around stations. And I don't mean little dribbles, either. Significant increases that can absorb some of the market impact of the increase in value, while allowing older units to filter.

Unfortunately, many communities seem to believe that they are entitled to billions of dollars of transit investment, but refuse to update their 1950s-style zoning codes which force the construction of large amounts of parking spaces, giant setbacks to buildings, FAR limits, and other such sprawl inducing nonsense from the highway-era.
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Re: Transit impact on neighborhoods

Postby Arborwayfan » Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:43 pm

Matthew, what you say makes sense. Maybe not 30-story towers around every transit station, but not half-acre zoning and 1.5 parking spaces per unit either. (I'm writing this on the 20th floor of one of many buildings going into the east side of Santiago, Chile, in what used to be a dense neighborhood of houses and duplexes; the towers make me sad but they do reduce sprawl.) Most of those yards and setbacks would be better used as parks, anyway.
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Re: Transit impact on neighborhoods

Postby Disney Guy » Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:39 pm

In order that many people can live within walking distance of a transit station, it is necessary to have medium rise or even high rise residential buildings.

A big disadvantage of multi story residences is that substantial corridors and other internal common spaces are needed and this does invite crime and results in higher maintenance costs.
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Re: Transit impact on neighborhoods

Postby BandA » Thu Oct 10, 2013 12:12 pm

ferroequinarchaeologist wrote:Quote: Professors at Northeastern University in Boston examined 42 neighborhoods in 12 U.S. cities in 2010 and found that housing costs near rail stops increased after light-rail service started in many markets. "A new transit station can set in motion a cycle of unintended consequences in which core transit users are priced out in favor of higher-income, car-owning residents," the authors wrote.

The full article is in today's Wall Street Journal. I find it strange that these academics consider neighborhood improvement to be an "unintended consequence" and that "core transit users" are defined as those who can't afford any other means of transportation. This is wrong on so many levels. Oh, wait - these are academics - forget what I said.

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So, public infrastructure "investments" and operating subsidies fuel real estate development and end up in the pockets of developers, brokers, and landlords, and come out of the pockets of the renters and long-term owners. All the while the trains are overcrowded and the parking lots are overflowing and riders are clammoring for more service. If the fares covered the operating costs (and operating costs per passenger mile were reduced) there would be less of an increase in rents. Breaking even on operating costs should be a goal in any transit expansion, assuming the line is busy, and if it isn't busy then why would you build it?

How do you lower costs? Run the trains faster, automation, paying less for equipment, fixing rather than replacing, and making sure you aren't overpaying for labor.
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