10 Ways to Enhance Your Community

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UNLEASH THE POWER OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION 10 WAYS TO ENHANCE YOUR COMMUNITYCover photo: Boulder, ColoradoAbove photo: Portland, OregonAmericas communities are being revitalized. So how are the most successful onesboosting property values and stimulating local economies while solving traffic problems andproviding citizens with the mobility to access opportunities? By enhancing and developing theirpublic transportation systems. From small towns to big cities, public transportation is helping to generate new vitality like neverbefore. Beautiful, walkable town squares combine residential, retail, office, recreation and publictransportation features to make community living easy. New bus services and light rail extensionsimprove mobility and ease congestion. Even the smallest adjustments, like widening sidewalks andadding bikeways, can provide dramatic impact and value.Along with easing congestion and improving air quality, the benefits of enhancing public transit are enormous. Transit-oriented development increases property values, property tax revenues,sales tax revenues and more. In short, a healthy transportation system can anchor a communitysrevitalization effort.Want to learn how your community can make the most of its public transportation system? Takea look at the next few pages. Youll discover 10 inspiring tips that can help public transportationhelp you and your neighborhood.U N L E A S H T H E P O W E R O F P U B L I C T R A N S P O R T A T I O NMAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATIONA PLANNING PRIORITY.When your public transit system serves a mix ofresidential and commercial uses, youll help reducevehicle trips and make residents less dependenton their cars. Imagine the positive impact on localtraffic, the economy and air quality when facilitieslike libraries, hospitals, houses of worship and civicbuildings are located near public transit stations.Make sure that public transportation services arepart of the decision-making process when you areconsidering new public facilities and whendevelopers are proposing new commercial projects.Remove barriers to traditional urban design, andconsider changing zoning and building codes,including any parking requirements.Take New Jerseys Transit Village Program, forinstance. In 1999, the state named fivecommunities public transit villages. To fosterredevelopment and investment in areas neartransportation centersand to simultaneouslypromote the use of public transitthecommunities agreed to create mixed-usedevelopments within a quarter mile of a busterminal or rail station. These mixed-usecommunities were to combine residentialcomponents with retail, office, parking and publicuses within easy walking distance of each other.One of the communities, South Orange, teamedprivate sector and local officials with NJ TRANSIT torehabilitate closed-up storefronts around the publictransit station. A transformed and revitalizeddowntown center emerged. Theres an ice creamparlor, coffee shop, dry cleaner, bakery, clothingstore and diner. Local officials also used federalfunds to implement an ambitious streetscapeproject, and NJ TRANSIT added parking, landscapingand kiosks. Whats more, over 200 high-densityhousing units are now within walking distance of thebustling center.2 U N L E A S H T H E P O W E R O F P U B L I C T R A N S P O R T A T I O N1South Orange,New JerseyMAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION THECENTER OF YOUR COMMUNITY.The best place to build public transit centers and busstops is in the heart of your community. This helps createlively activity and a center of commerce that can becomea community landmark, while also reducing the use ofcostly land for parking spaces.planters, benches, fountains and public art. Its best toplace parking facilities behind commercial developmentsrather than in the center of them. By doing so, youll havedeveloped an area thats walkable and invitingvillageswhere people want to spend time shopping, playing, livingand working.This attention to planning can pay off. On the banks of the Wabash River, the City of West Lafayette, Indiana, hascreated a new downtown in a city thats never had one. A public-private venture, Wabash Landings master planincorporates retail stores and restaurants, a multi-screentheater, residential dwellings, a park, a hotel, a child carecenter, a soon-to-be-built ice skating rink and much more.Designed to echo a 1950s-era town square, the mixed-use development links the Purdue University campus,the riverfront and, across the river, Lafayettes centralbusiness district. A new pedestrian bridge now connectsWest Lafayette with Lafayette and its multi-modal bus and rail transportation center. CityBus, the regional transit agency, provides bus service through the area,enabling students, residents and visitors to convenientlycombine walking, biking and public transit to meet theirmobility needs.U N L E A S H T H E P O W E R O F P U B L I C T R A N S P O R T A T I O N 32Lafayette, IndianaWant to encourage public transit use? Its probably a loteasier than you think. In fact, many communities weredeveloped as a result of a railroad or busline. Use this toyour advantage. Renovate the historic railroad station intoan intermodal facility that could include a library, revive itas a community activity center for adult education classesor use it as a farmers market on weekends.Build shops, offices and residential dwellings closetogether, centered around attractive features such asMAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATIONLOOK FANTASTIC.The more comfortable people are in your public transitfacilities, the more often theyll use them. So ensure thatthey look great. Make your facilities easy to get to andeasy to use. Keep them clean, safe and secure. Providesidewalks and eliminate barriers. whimsical and interesting. Buses also have put art intomotion with artist-designed wraps placed on the citys newneighborhood circulators. The buses are a source of prideand inspiration for the community.Corpus Christi, Texas, worked with its regionaltransportation authority to make its bus stops andtransfer stations safer, more attractive and more invitingto the public. With funding from the Federal TransitAdministration, the city has turned key transfer centersStaples Street and Port Ayersinto focal points of theirsurrounding communities. Landscaping, pedestrianwalkways, lighting, vibrant paint and tilework havetransformed the neighborhoods. The result? Increasedridership and significant re-investment in the community. MAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATIONEASY STREET FOR PEDESTRIANS. Riders often walk to public transit stops and stations. So consider the sidewalks and routes around the stops.Narrow streets, for example, reduce vehicle speeds,resulting in streets that are safer for pedestrians. 4 U N L E A S H T H E P O W E R O F P U B L I C T R A N S P O R T A T I O N43Corpus Christi, TexasDon't hide your facilitiesdesign them as part of thecommunity. Plant shrubs, trees and flowers, and thenmake sure theyre well-maintained. And think aboutattractive lighting. Its as important for safety as it is forenhancing the character of your community. For example, in Tempe, Arizona, the community has madepublic transit fun by installing artist-designed bus sheltersthroughout the area. The shelters are colorful, creative,When you configure your sidewalks to be wide andappealing, people feel safe and comfortable. And takethe time to make sure they are well-lit.Also remember that planning smaller, interconnectedstreets fosters easy access to neighborhood destinations.This provides pedestrians with optional routes and shorterwalking distances.Just a decade ago, Lake Worth, Floridas downtown wasin disrepair, commercial vacancies were high and trafficflowed through core streets at high speeds. It was not anattractive or welcoming place to be. Faced with growingtraffic problems, planners ultimately decided to implementa comprehensive streetscaping program designed toreduce the speed of traffic. The program includednarrower streets, wider sidewalks, decorative lighting,benches, landscaping and more. To improve mobility, atrolley bus service was added along with new bikelanes. Lake Worths downtown is now revitalized,with well-attended public events and increasingproperty values.MAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATIONTHE HOTTEST TICKET IN TOWN.Help public transit bring people to holiday events,fairs, festivals and sporting events in yourcommunity. Be sure to team with your local publictransit systemnot only will they often helpadvertise your community event, they may offerspecial promotions for people who get there bypublic transit. Also consider building public transitkiosks, where representatives can hand outschedules, brochures, coloring books,promotional passes and more.How do you create synergy like this? Dallas,Texas, is a great example. When its time to planits annual state fairthe largest in the countrythey make sure the public transit system hasU N L E A S H T H E P O W E R O F P U B L I C T R A N S P O R T A T I O N 55Dallas,TexasLake Worth, Floridaspecial DART Flyer buses ready to go. The Dallas AreaRapid Transit District provides fairgoers with free parkingat any of its eight transit centers, then whisks them toand from the fairgrounds in air-conditioned comfort. DARTalso provides a shuttle between its light rail station andthe fairgrounds, encouraging residents to leave their carsat home. Dallas isnt the only community that does this. Minneapolis-St. Paul offers similar public transit services to the statefair. And for fans of the San Diego Chargers and Padres,the Metropolitan Transit Development Board has madegetting to the stadium simple and convenientbuses andtrolleys take fans directly to the games. Sports fans incommunities like Baltimore, Cleveland and Denver alsoenjoy the advantages of public transit, including not havingto deal with traffic jams and parking.MAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATIONEVERYBODYS BUSINESS.You know that the more people ride public transit, themore benefits your community will see. So help increaseridership by getting local businesses involved. They maynot realize that, thanks to the federal TransportationEquity Act for the 21st Century, they can now offer theiremployees a tax-free monthly benefit of up to $100 forcommuting costs on public transit or in vanpools. In Portland, Oregon, Intel and Nike already know aboutthis great program, and they both offer annual publictransit passes to all employees. And in California, SunMicrosystems has been actively involved in getting its13,000 Bay Area and southern California workers to usecommuting alternatives to get to and from work. Thiscompany sells public transit tickets at work sites, offers a$20 monthly subsidy for each employee toward thepurchase of a public transit ticket, operates shuttleservices between work sites and public transit stations,and provides guaranteed rides home for those using6 U N L E A S H T H E P O W E R O F P U B L I C T R A N S P O R T A T I O N6Portland, Oregonpublic transit, carpools and vanpools. And its working.In a 1998 survey, Sun Microsystems found thatapproximately one-quarter of its Bay Area workers wereusing a commute alternative.Its also happening in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where companiesof all sizes can help their employees pay for public transitfares by providing Bonus Bucks public transit vouchers.Employers pay half the cost of an employees monthly busfare and then deduct it as a business expense. Employersoffer the vouchers to interested employees, who thensend the vouchers to Tulsa Transit along with their shareof the fares. Monthly passes are sent to the employeesand an invoice is sent to the employer for the vouchersredeemed. Its an easy process with extraordinary benefits.MAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATIONA NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBOR.Why encourage residential homes near public transitfacilities? Its convenient, reduces traffic and adds vitalityto a downtown. It also pays off for the homeowner. A study by the University of North Texas reports thathousing along the Dallas Area Rapid Transit light rail line isvalued 25 percent higher than similar homes locatedelsewhere in the city.A team of non-profit organizations recently partneredwith Fannie Mae to create a new kind of mortgage: theLocation-Efficient Mortgage. Since people buying homes inconvenient, public-transit-rich neighborhoods tend to ownfewer cars and drive less, why not enable them to applythose savings to finance mortgages? The Location-EfficientMortgage allows these prospective homebuyers to applyfor mortgages that are $15,000 to $50,000 higherthan ones they could apply for otherwisemakinghomeownership possible for more families. Already, lendersU N L E A S H T H E P O W E R O F P U B L I C T R A N S P O R T A T I O N 77People boarding busin Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco areoffering this program, and Fannie Mae has committed topurchasing $100 million in such mortgages over the nextfew years.Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Transportation Commissionof Oakland, California, has established a new HousingIncentive Program that provides funds to jurisdictionsthat locate compact housing near public transit. Thejurisdictions may spend the monies on any neighborhood-based transportation projects that are consistent withthe public transit agencys Transportation for LivableCommunities Program, which helps fund improvementson streetscapes and bicycle and pedestrian facilities.Whats more, Marylands Live Near Your Work programcombines funds from employers, the state, the localmunicipality and employees to create a total pool of atleast $3,000 toward the purchase of a home near anemployees place of work. Because the employee must livein the home for at least three years, the program helps tostabilize the neighborhood and reduce turnover in theworkplace. Once again, the program supports clean airinitiatives and lessens local dependence on the automobile. MAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION ACANVAS FOR NEW IDEAS.The ways you can make better use of publictransportation in your community are limitless. Engageyour citizens and get their ideas. Try different things. Yourown community members can be inspirational resourcesfor new and exciting projects. 8 U N L E A S H T H E P O W E R O F P U B L I C T R A N S P O R T A T I O N8Boulder, ColoradoFor example, an innovative group of Boulder, Coloradocitizens changed the face of their transportation system.Tired of circuitous routes and empty buses, they made itclear to the city council that something had to change ifthey were to use the system. Working in partnership withthe city, this cross-section of citizensfrom students toseniors to business leadersdeveloped a new servicecalled the HOP. Their intentions were for the HOP to servethree main areas of the city, run every 10 minutes andoperate small buses that would mesh with the characterof the ecologically minded community.The service launched in 1994 with a daily ridership goalof 2,000 passenger trips. It was surpassed within fourweeks. Today that number has grown to 5,000. And byworking with the Regional Transportation District, thecitys GO Boulder office has developed four new citizen-driven services: the SKIP, JUMP, LEAP and BOUND.But they havent stopped there. GO Boulder is workingequally hard on developing public transit pass programs to generate even more interest and increase ridershipfurther. For instance, all Colorado university student IDsdouble as unlimited-use bus passes and cost students only $21 per semester. The city is also working with localbusinesses to create a similar business pass program,and is developing an annual neighborhood public transitpass program for $50 to $100 per household, per year.MAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATIONA COMMUNITY PARTNER.Get ready to create a beautiful friendship.Partnering with your local public transportationsystem is one sure way to serve your communitybetter. From municipal to regional to state levels,officials are not only finding new ways to factorpublic transportation into their planningequationstheyre making them happen. In Maplewood, New Jersey, the local Chamber ofCommerce partnered with NJ TRANSIT toestablish a concierge service at their local trainstation. Just like at a hotel, the concierge can takecare of commuters needs with a simple phonecall. In fact, one desk represents more than 30community businesses. Commuters can drop offdry cleaning, order gourmet take-out for the nightsdinner and have their car tires replacedallthrough one quick stop at the concierge desk onthe way to work. Local businesses arent the onlyones that benefit. The concierge establishes aU N L E A S H T H E P O W E R O F P U B L I C T R A N S P O R T A T I O N 99Tucson, Arizonavibrant presence at the train station, and encouragespeople to ride more often because they can get more done.In the 1990s, residents and business owners in theSouth Park neighborhood of Tucson, Arizona, joinedforces with the Tucson Urban League, the University ofArizona, the Tucson Department of Transportation, theU.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developmentand the Federal Transit Administration to improve theSouth Park community. A newly built boulevard wasdirecting traffic away from their area, resulting inproblems for their local economy.So with funding from the FTA and the City of Tucson, they planned and implemented a series of streetscapingimprovements to beautify the neighborhood. Soon,pedestrian, bicycle and public transit users were enjoyingsidewalk and curb access ramps, six new artistic busshelters, pedestrian-friendly walls doubling as a public artcanvas, new traffic signals and landscaping.How did all this happen? Community residents rose to thechallenge, held monthly town hall meetings and gave plentyof input on the design and implementation of the project.Then the South Park Community Art Center opened, andunder the tutelage of a local artist, the community went towork to create mosaics, totems and sculpturesall nowdisplayed in their own neighborhood. The partnership andinvestment in South Park have helped instill new pride andvolunteerism in the community, while establishing theconditions needed to help rebuild the local economy. MAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AWISE INVESTMENT.Want the best return on public transit? Invest in it. Whenfederal, state and local entities partner with the privatesector, and when you participate in the regionaltransportation planning and programming process, youcan ensure that your money is being used most effectively. For example, most states are working to includetransportation components in their welfare reform10 U N L E A S H T H E P O W E R O F P U B L I C T R A N S P O R T A T I O N10Portland, Oregonprojects. Grants have been awarded to states to developstrategies to help welfare recipients gain access toemployment through better transportation opportunities.Take Michigan, for instance. The Department ofTransportation has distributed nearly $20 million to thestates network of public transportation providers. Part ofthe states transportation-to-work effort, the funding ishelping welfare recipients and other low-income workersget to and from work, training and child care sites. In Portland, Oregon, the citys growth strategy has longbeen tied directly to public transit. Since the 1970s,Portland has recognized the importance of improving itspublic transportation system to achieve a variety of goals.The city created a Fareless Square to give people freerides on public transit within the central business district.The city also put a lid on downtown parking and createdexclusive bus lanes to improve travel times.Tri-Met, which serves three counties in the Portlandmetro area, continues to expand its bus and light railsystem. A new 5.5-mile light rail extension serving theU N L E A S H T H E P O W E R O F P U B L I C T R A N S P O R T A T I O N 11airport was built through an innovative public-privateventure, requiring no new property tax dollars, stategeneral funds or federal appropriations. Or look at Tempe, Arizona, where residents approved a transit improvement plan that is being funded with one-half of one percent of local sales tax revenue. The improvements include expanded bus service, theimplementation of free neighborhood circulator buseslinking residents to bus routes and major activity centers,improved bikeways and new and improved bus shelters.To learn more about these examplesand to discoverhow public transportation is an investment that reallygives backlog on to www.publictransportation.org.P R O J E C T PA R T N E R STHE TRANSPORTATION AND LIVABLE COMMUNITIES CONSORTIUMAmerican Association of State Highway and Transportation OfficialsAmerican Institute of ArchitectsAmerican Planning AssociationAmerican Public Transportation Association*American Public Works AssociationAssociation of Metropolitan Planning OrganizationsEnvironmental Protection AgencyFederal Highway AdministrationFederal Transit AdministrationInstitute of Transportation EngineersInternational City Managers Associations Smart Growth NetworkInternational Downtown AssociationLocal Initiatives Support GroupNational Association of Home BuildersNational Association of RealtorsNational Governors AssociationNational Trust for Historic PreservationProject for Public SpacesSurface Transportation Policy ProjectUrban Land InstituteUS Department of Transportation*This report was underwritten by APTA's private sector business partners and its Public Transportation Partnership for Tomorrow initiative.www.pub l i c t ranspor ta t i on .org1666 K Street, NWWashington, DC20006-1215Phone: 202.496.4800www.publictransportation.org