Monday, May 6, 2013

Transit Oriented Development in Washington D.C.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (METRO) system serves a population of 3.5 million within a 1500 square-mile area. In partnership with local and national developers, Metro promotes smart growth principles throughout this system by fostering a robust Transit Oriented Development (TOD) program.

There are 120 designated regional activity centers in the greater Washington D.C. area. Of those, 81 are now served by high quality Metro transit, either Metrorail or Metrobus Priority Corridor Network. This means that roughly two-thirds of the regional activity centers are have the critical feature that developers require for transit oriented development; transit.
Many jurisdictions in the Washington metropolitan area have placed a greater emphasis on high-quality transit service when deciding upon areas to designate as regional activity centers. The chart below shows the total number of activity centers per jurisdiction and the percentage served by Metrorail and/or the PCN. The core jurisdictions (the District, Arlington and Alexandria) each have over 80% of their activity centers served by high-quality Metro transit. The beltway jurisdictions (Montgomery, Prince George’s and Fairfax counties) have between 48% and 70% of their activity centers served. Loudoun County, soon to be added to the compact with two activity centers receiving Metrorail service when the Metrorail to Dulles Phase II comes online, has the lowest percentage of activity centers served by Metro.
The relationship between regional activity and high-quality transit is no accident. Economic activity gravitates towards areas of greater accessibility, specifically rail stations and commercial corridors. However, transit service has also been extended to areas of economic activity which developed due to good highway accessibility, such as Tysons Corner.

Regional Activity Centers in the core jurisdictions served by
high quality transit service.
  As local jurisdictions continue to focus population and employment growth into these areas, Metro and other regional transit operators are working to connect them to the regional core and to one another through high-quality transit. Current levels of highway congestion clearly indicate that Metropolitan
Washington needs more high-quality Metro service (bus and rail) which includes transit oriented development in order to support the growth anticipated over the next 25 years.

In order to better understand the economics of transit oriented development, Metro recently completed a study to make the case for transit in the Washington DC region. As Metro plans for the future, it is important to understand the impact that the system has had on the Washington metro region since it opened. In addition to its role as the public transit agency in the region, Metro has supported the development of the real estate market, generated tax revenues, and been the key to the region's economic vitality.



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