$1 billion needed for transit sheds in Chicago, report says
Transit-served neighborhoods in four out of five cities with extensive transit service saw strong development and growth, according to a study by the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT). The exception is Chicago, which saw less development in "transit sheds," areas within a half mile of transit, relative to its region from 2000 to 2010.
The other four regions with at least 325 stations — New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and San Francisco — were able to focus more growth in transit corridors.
"As a result, Chicago Region residents are paying higher transportation costs and experiencing reduced access to jobs," says the report, Transit-Oriented Development in the Chicago Region: Efficient and Resilient Communities for the 21st Century.
Promoting development in transit sheds has a host of economic, environmental, and transportation-related benefits, CNT says. The organization recommends investments be made in Chicago transit sheds in the next three decades to improve walkability, affordable housing, and other characteristics.
The number of households in Chicago transit sheds grew in the previous decade (see graph above), just not as much as the region, and not as much as the other four regions in this category. Development near transit is booming in the San Francisco Bay area, and strong in Philadelphia and Boston. Transit Sheds in Chicago also held their real estate value better than the region as a whole during the Great Recession — 2006-2011 — outperforming the region by 30 percent. In order to take advantage of this market demand, CNT recommends five policy goals:
1. Create TOD zones. A transit zone is an area defined by a half-mile radius around a fixed rail station. Many of the barriers to TOD are embedded in the land use policies of local governments, and are further complicated by regional, state, and federal policies. Creating TOD zones helps eliminate barriers to development.
2. Preserve affordable housing. To realize the full regional benefits of quality transit and TOD, mixed-income housing must be preserved and expanded in TOD zones. This may be accomplished through a combination of policies that prioritize housing assistance to TOD communities and enforce existing state requirements for affordable housing in all communities.
3. Match jobs and transit. Many limitations of metropolitan Chicago’s transit system—as well as high transportation costs, traffic congestion, and air pollution—stem from job centers moving away from mixed-income neighborhoods. A more efficient and healthier pattern may be established through systematic efforts to expand transit services to job centers, site new employers in existing transit-served communities, and promote incentives to commute through transit, biking, or walking.
4. Provide alternatives to car ownership. Even dedicated transit users often are forced to buy cars to meet transportation needs that transit cannot efficiently fill. To provide alternatives to car ownership, the Region should support the growth of car-sharing services, build more extensive bicycle infrastructure, and establish more pedestrian-friendly streetscapes.
5. Prioritize TOD across agencies. While public agencies can set favorable conditions for TOD, public investments of more than $1 billion are needed through 2040 to remove impediments to redevelopment and attract the much larger private investments that will build the mixed-income housing, mixed-use buildings, and functioning businesses that constitute TODs. Coordinated priorities and investments among a range of public agencies are needed to generate these effective public investments.
Download a pdf of the report here.