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Insights from Transit Agencies 25 Station Area Development When rail transit was first developed, walk access was a primary mode to get to the station. Many stations were located right in the middle of small satellite city business centers, with limited parking access but strong walk access to homes, jobs, and shops. With the shift to a suburban automobile culture, transit stations began to shift away from walk access and place more emphasis on auto access. Recently it has been recognized that increasing the density of development around stations may be a cost-effective method of increasing transit ridership and reducing impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods and transportation network. TOD has become a leading station access planning tool. Planning for TOD is perhaps the most complex aspect of station access planning because it invariably involves several different entities with widely differing interests. Beyond the transit agency, these include local governments, the local community, and private developers. The agencies with the most active joint development programs (LA Metro, BART, and WMATA in the case studies conducted here) have found that agency-wide joint development policies are beneficial for negotiating solutions that help achieve agency goals. These policies define development requirements and procedures, and provide criteria for evaluating competing development proposals. The role of TOD in station access planning is discussed in depth in Chapter 11, TOD and Station Access. Improving Station Access Planning The case studies indicate that transit agencies have a wide variety of policy, process, and evaluation tools available to make informed decisions about station access. However, the degree to which industry best practices are adopted varies widely among transit agencies. Research shows five key gaps that can adversely affect the effectiveness of station access programs and should be addressed. 1. Collaborative values and skills. It is essential to engage a wide variety of stakeholders to develop effective station access solutions for rapid transit, as many improvements cannot be implemented by the transit agency alone. However, many transit agencies face community resistance in embracing transit stations and engaging in dialogue. Thus, there is a need for more proactive engagement practices within transit agencies to: (1) identify willing partners; (2) establish strong relationships with local jurisdictions; and (3) accept compromise when it is in the transit agency's best interest to do so. 2. Timely and accurate data. Timely information on station access mode characteristics is essential for effective service and facility planning. Effective data collection for station access planning should include up-to-date information on the costs and usage of providing various access facilities (e.g., feeder transit, parking facilities, bike parking). In addition, periodic rider surveys to understand access patterns and modes at individual stations are desirable to identify rider preferences and to monitor trends. These datasets provide objective informa- tion for planning, decision making, and operations. While some agencies collect most or all of these data, many do not. In particular, many agencies have only anecdotal or outdated information on the access mode characteristics at individual stations, making evaluation of current and proposed access service difficult. 3. Methods and tools. Relatively few of the case study agencies have established evaluation methodologies or have tools to assess the impact of access improvements (e.g., estimating the effects of a particular TOD strategy on ridership). Regional travel demand models are not sensitive enough to local contexts in most cases to estimate access mode shares accurately, but few other options exist at present. Some agencies have developed rules of thumb, spreadsheet