I used Metrolink, the Southern California commuter rail system, to take a day trip to Oceanside recently. I visited the California Surf Museum and the Oceanside Museum of Art, and I watched the sun set from the end of the pier. It was such a pleasant trip that I wanted to share some pictures (above and below).
That day trip got me thinking about the use of “transit oriented development” as a marketing strategy. Let’s face it. Sometimes that’s all it is. In certain cases, what’s billed as “transit oriented development” (TOD) is really transit adjacent development (TAD). It’s a fairly common complaint. The inclusion of a light rail station and a bus stop does not mean that residents and visitors of the site will use transit. Other factors—including design, location, and the amount of parking—can change a project from TOD to TAD. Similarly, an intermodal center placed in an inconvenient location relatively far from people’s homes, shopping destinations, and work centers—while providing useful transit connections—does not make a transit oriented development.
Nevertheless, I think there is value in projects that make at least some effort to be transit oriented or that increase local transportation options. I propose that TOD conversations need to include recognition of the complexity of transit service levels. For starters, there should be a term used to admit a project is not transit oriented, yet is more than just transit adjacent. Such developments are transit enhanced. Using a multi-layered system to classify the level at which developments are oriented around transit will help to better prioritize projects and reward those that will truly make a positive difference in our transportation system. “Transit enhanced development” is just the start.
Written by Dima Galkin who is an Analyst at RSG. The rest of Dima’s Oceanside Tour in Pictures below: