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1 While livability has received increasing attention in planning and policy circles recently, agreement as to how to define, measure, and create it has been elusive. This is especially true in terms of the livability benefits of transit investments. While livability definitions tend to boil livability down to serving diverse people with diverse opportunities (RITA Office of Research, Development, and Technology 2011), most have not been specific enough to measure it consis- tently and implement it effectively. Furthermore, getting specific about livabilityâparticularly when focusing on the livability benefits of transit-supportive investmentsâmay cause those who do not care for transit to dismiss it. This Handbook offers a bridge between these objectives: it provides a definition broad enough for all but specific enough to be useful. It provides a measurable and actionable definition of transit corridor livability that is based on core, widely accepted values that can make it uni- versally acceptable. Using this definition, the Handbook offers a set of methods, metrics, and strategies embedded within a five-step visioning and improvement process that communities can use to improve livability in their transit corridors. This process, and the methods, metrics and strategies it employs, provides transit corridor stakeholders with a set of tools and tech- niques that can help in planning and building support for corridor improvements, screening alternatives in preparation for environmental review, identifying a corridorâs livability needs, and developing an action-oriented set of strategies for improving transit corridor livability and quality of life. What This Handbook Is (and Is Not) Designed to Do This Handbook is designed to provide the following: â¢ A clear and precise understanding of transit corridor livability that is also flexible enough to account for local values and aspirationsâit is not one-size-fits-all. â¢ A practical, powerful, and empirically based set of analytic tools for measurement, which are designed to supplement but not replace established travel demand, transit quality of service, or traffic operations tools. â¢ A clear, step-by-step visioning process for building corridor coalitions, not for top-down planning. â¢ A comprehensive menu of implementation goals and strategies that provides options without being prescriptive. Handbook Introduction
2 Livable Transit Corridors: Methods, Metrics, and Strategies Why Plan for Livability? There are a number of important benefits to planning transit systems and their surrounding communities for enhanced livability. Livability planning techniques and implementation strategies can help: â¢ Increase transit ridership, walking, and bicycle use; â¢ Increase the number of people who can perform many of their daily activities within their communities; â¢ Provide more affordable housing opportunities; â¢ Provide more opportunities for a communityâs residents, workers, and visitors to make healthy lifestyle choices through active transportation modes such as walking and cycling; and â¢ Increase public participation and equity in the planning process. Why Plan Transit Corridors? There are several important benefits to planning transit systems and their surrounding communities at the corridor level. Transit corridor-level planning helps to: â¢ Increase transit ridership by creating consistent and connected corridor station areas; â¢ Provide more economic development opportunities beyond immediate station areas; â¢ Increase the distance people will be willing to walk or bike by integrating transit services on a corridor-wide basis; â¢ Provide desirable land uses and amenities linking neighborhoods to transit; â¢ Provide transit-accessible activities and opportunities that serve the full spectrum of residentsâ needs; â¢ Bring urban design, infrastructure, and streetscape improvements to areas not typically covered by plans focused on the quarter- to half-mile radius of transit stations, which helps create consistent and connected corridor station areas (Urban Land Institute-Los Angeles 2013); â¢ Provide more economic development opportunities beyond immediate station areas, which leverages private investment with public investment collateral to transit and economic development (Urban Land Institute-Los Angeles 2013); and â¢ Decrease the âfirst-mile/last-mileâ problem of transit station access, which increases the distance people will be willing to walk or bike and integrates transit services on a corridor-wide basis (Urban Land Institute-Los Angeles 2013). Defining Transit Corridor Livability The Handbook defines livability as people having good access to opportunities they can use in the pursuit of improvements to their quality of life. This is a definition of livability for all. The Handbookâs definition combines this âaccess to opportunitiesâ statement with refined and transit-specific versions of the Livability Principles developed by the Partnership for Sus- tainable Communitiesâa collaboration between the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development et al. undated). The new Transit Corridor Livability Principles are summarized and presented along with the original principles that inspired them in Table 1.
Handbook Introduction 3 Transit Corridor Livability Visioning This Handbook uses the transit corridor livability definition as a foundation to present a set of assessment methods, metrics, and implementation strategies that metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), councils of governments (COGs), large transit agencies that have multi- jurisdiction service areas, and other stakeholders can use to improve their transit corridors. Corridor-level planning, scenario-based planning, and placemaking techniques are all embed- ded within a familiar and effective stakeholder-led visioning process for building livable transit communities based on a national review of best practices. Corridor-Level Planning and MPO/COG Leadership Transportation planners are increasingly embracing corridor-level methods for coordinating transportation and land use investments. This Handbook is designed to fit into that trend, but like the concept of livability, corridor planning brings with it a host of challenges. Two categories of challenges are common to both transit corridor and livability planning efforts: jurisdictional and interdisciplinary. Jurisdictional challenges arise because corridors often cross governmental boundaries. Corridor-level planning requires coordination and collaboration among overlapping jurisdictions. Cross-jurisdictional collaboration requires stakeholder leader- ship at the regional level that can mediate, broker, and incentivize common corridor livability development goals. Building livability also requires an interdisciplinary approach to planning, calling for coop- eration among public and private stakeholders that may not be used to working together. Plan- ning pays off when stakeholders who hold different but intersecting interests work together to clarify and commit to goals (desired outcomes) and strategies (general methods) (Mintzberg and Quinn 1996). The transit corridor livability methods, metrics, and strategies provided in this Handbook are embedded within a process of stakeholder engagement using the scenario plan- ning and visioning process. This visioning process is designed to address both jurisdictional and interdisciplinary challenges common to transit corridor livability planning, but success requires leadership that can work collaboratively. Because of their regional perspective and multidisciplinary contacts, MPOs and COGs are uniquely suited to be leaders in planning and building livable transit corridors. However, many Partnership for Sustainable Communities' Livability Principles Transit Corridor Livability Principles Provide more transportation choices High-quality transit, walking, and bicycling opportunities Promote equitable and affordable housing Mixed-income housing near transit Enhance economic competitiveness Transit-accessible economic opportunities Coordinate and leverage federal policies and investments Accessible social and government services Support existing communities Vibrant and accessible community, cultural, and recreational opportunities Value communities and neighborhoods Healthy, safe, walkable transit corridor neighborhoods Table 1. Comparison of the Partnershipâs Livability Principles with the Transit Corridor Livability Principles.
4 Livable Transit Corridors: Methods, Metrics, and Strategies transit agencies that provide services to multiple local jurisdictions can also play this leadership role. This Handbook is designed for an audience of public agencies with regional responsibilities, but can be used by anyone interested in building livable communities. Transit Corridor Livability Assessment This Handbook provides a five-step, best-practices process for analyzing, envisioning, and improving livability in a transit corridor, as illustrated in Figure 1. The process provides a guide for evaluating transit corridor needs and making decisions to promote livability. Handbook users can employ this process and its supporting method, metrics, and strategies as a broad-based plan- ning exercise that will help coordinate stakeholder actions as well as a supplement to existing plan- ning processes such as the development of a regional transportation plan (RTP), a transportation improvement program (TIP), or project screening in preparation for an environmental review alternatives analysis. The Handbook addresses each step as a separate section. â¢ Step 1: Initiate Projectâpresents a transit corridor livability definition and provides the building blocks for a Livable Transit Corridor Typology. These definitional foundations are used to provide the tools and techniques needed by stakeholders to articulate a vision for improving livability in a transit corridor. Users are provided guidance on the methods they can use to establish a transit corridor livability stakeholders group, analysis team, project develop- ment process, and working transit corridor livability definition. â¢ Step 2: Assess the Corridorâoffers a set of methods and metrics that corridor stakeholders can use to evaluate existing livability strengths and needs as they proceed with livability improve- ments. These assessment methods can also be used to compare their corridor to others in the United States and identify the best goals and strategies to adopt for implementation. Handbook users can employ the metrics provided in Section 2 to identify the study corridorâs strengths Note: The process substeps shown in this diagram are summarized with names that do not always directly correspond to each sub-step presented in this Handbook. Figure 1. Transit corridor livability visioning and improvement process steps.
Handbook Introduction 5 and needs for livability improvements. This step uses a combination of metric values and professional judgments to classify the study corridor according to the Transit Corridor Livabil- ity Typology. Table 2 presents these metrics and their associated Transit Corridor Livability Principles. â¢ Step 3: Identify Goalsâprovides a visioning process that combines stakeholder engagement, fact-finding analysis, and collaborative goal setting. The goals listed in this section can help stakeholders reach consensus and take actions that build livable transit corridors. The goals provide critical assistance by clarifying intentions, identifying means, prioritizing resources, and gaining stakeholder agreement in the pursuit of livability. â¢ Step 4: Develop a Visionâoutlines actions stakeholders can use to determine what they want their corridor to look like. Using the metrics-identified strengths and needs and general transit corridor livability planning goals, corridor improvement scenarios are identified and analyzed. â¢ Step 5: Implement Strategiesâoffers a menu of strategies that will help corridor stakeholders meet the goals selected from Step 3. Strategies can also be identified and selected using the Livable Transit Corridor Typology. Transit Corridor Livability Principles Factor Category1 Factor Name Metrics High-quality transit, walking, and bicycling opportunities Place Urban form Transit employment accessibility (weighted employment within 45- minute transit commute) People Transit and non-auto service quality Corridor transit service coverage (aggregate frequency of transit service per square mile) Mixed-income housing near transit Place Mixed-income housing Corridor housing unaffordability (percent of income spent for housing) People Economically and age-diverse population Income diversity (average variance of census block group household incomes in corridor from corridor-wide average household income) Transit-accessible economic opportunities Place Employment opportunities Corridor jobs density (employees/acre) People Consumer opportunities Corridor retail jobs density (corridor retail employees/acre) Accessible social and government services Place Effective services Corridor transit ridership balance (ratio of the sum of each corridorâs boardings and alightings) People Accessible services Corridor health care opportunities (health care employees/acre) Vibrant and accessible community, cultural, and recreational opportunities Place Urban form Corridor density (population/acre) People Cultural & recreational opportunities Access to culture & arts (corridor entertainment employees/acre) Healthy, safe, and walkable transit corridor neighborhoods Place Pedestrian-oriented environment Corridor pedestrian environment (intersection density) People Neighborhood safety Corridor pedestrian collisions per daily 100,000 pedestrians 1Two factors were identified for each principleâpeople and place factorsâbased on an analysis of the common components of existing livability definitions found in the literature. Place factors describe the functional and physical attributes of a corridor that shape the livability opportunities available in a transit corridor; people factors describe the services that people derive from the livability opportunities in that same corridor. Table 2. Transit Corridor Livability Principles and their metrics.
6 Livable Transit Corridors: Methods, Metrics, and Strategies In designing for livability, the community engagement process must involve a diverse set of stakeholders. This requires a commitment to engage those often left out of the typical planning process but who are nevertheless representative of the corridor. This process offers methods for an MPO or a COG (hereafter referred to jointly as âMPOsâ) to lead a collaborative analysis, visioning, and planning process for improving livability in a transit corridor. MPOs can be natural leaders in this process. Their focus is regional, their work requires collaboration with a wide variety of public and private stakeholders, and they influence or control large transportation funding resources. The Transit Corridor Livability Calculator Tool To assist Handbook users in this process, a spreadsheet-based Transit Corridor Livability Calculator tool is also available for download. The Calculator provides the data necessary to estimate 10 of the 12 metrics used in the Handbook to gauge livability for user-defined transit corridors in most metropolitan areas of the United States. The Calculator presents these metric scores as they compare to the average metric scores from over 250 transit corridors from across the country, then guides users through a process of transit corridor livability analysis, goals-setting, and strategies selection. A step-by-step Calculator Userâs Manual is included in Appendix H of this Handbook.