Blog » regional planning
- October 6, 2010BY LAURA TAM, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT POLICY DIRECTOR
CARB and MTC have adopted strong regional targets for reducing emissions through better planning and less driving.
[Photo Credit: flickr user Jovi Girl J]
In late September, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted unanimously to adopt a strong set of regional targets for passenger vehicle emissions reduction under SB 375, the state's anti-sprawl law. The historic vote was the culmination of a two-year effort which included the entire Regional Targets Advisory Committee process and report, intense research by modeling experts, proposed targets from metropolitan planning organizations, and public workshops around the state. In the end, CARB adopted the staff-recommended targets for the big four regions, including the Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) -- 13-16% by 2035, and 10% for the San Joaquin Valley. These percentages represent a reduction in per-capita greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicle trips, and will be achieved through regional planning that will align housing growth goals with transportation funding.
For MTC, which in advance of the CARB meeting voted to adopt a 15% reduction in per capita emissions from passenger vehicles (from a 2005 baseline), this is a very significant change. The region's adopted Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) otherwise would have increased these emissions by 2% in 2035.
At the same meeting, CARB approved a 33% renewable portfolio standard for energy utilities by 2020. This means that the state's investor-owned utilities like PG&E, which are now required to source 20% of their electricity from renewables, will have to increase that percentage significantly over the next 10 years. This policy is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 12-13 million tons/year beginning in 2020. While the SB 375 targets will remove only 3 million tons/year in 2020, it will ramp up to 15 million tons/year by 2035.
- September 20, 2010BY JORDAN SALINGER
Click to enlarge Commute times to zip code 94105 (SOMA) in San Francisco
To the dismay of many a futurist envisioning the world in 2010, the vast majority of people commute significant distances to their jobs. Although the recent recession has led to reduced vehicle miles traveled, the average American still commutes 46 minutes a day. And while we don't always have a choice about where we work and live, commuting reflects both the successes and limitations of our transportation network and our housing supply. This interactive map, created by Harry Kao, uses the familiar google maps layout to shed light on commuting times across the nation.
How to use it: This commuting map is simple. Before starting you are prompted to enter the zip code of where you commute. With that basic information, a screen displays multiple red dots, each dot represents another zip code, with the size of dot corresponding to the percentage of commuters. If you click on the dot you are informed as to the average commute time from that destination and, how long it takes for people to commute to that destination.
The data: This project used data that was gathered from the 2000 Census. While the American Community Survey data is more recent, Kao needed more detailed figures to produce this map. Routes and transit times are taken directly from the google maps API.
What it is: At its core, this map reflects the theoretical distance/time that it takes to travel to work by car. It is however, unable to capture a key component of real commute time, traffic. According to Kao, "the census dataset has detailed stats on when people leave and when they arrive but there's not quite enough information to link the times with the endpoints." By assuming travel during non-peak hours, Kao concedes that most commute times are underestimates. This fact cant be ignored because driving, the mode of travel selected in this interactive map, feels the marginal impact of traffic more than the other modes of transportation.
Sample zip codes:
Chicago: 60601 (City Hall)
New York: 10005 (Wall Street)
San Francisco: 94105 (SOMA)
Houston: 77019 (Downtown)
- Chicago and San Francisco have a relatively similar commuting time pattern, with a few zip codes that register miniscule times and a significant disparity in time for the outlying neighborhoods.
- Commuting times stay considerably more consistent in New York
- It takes 70% of commuters to the 94105 zip code (SOMA) less than the average commute time.
- 57.5% of people travel less than the average commute to Houston's downtown
- September 14, 2010BY TIMOTHEA TWAY
Many who joined the latest SPUR study trip to San Jose were impressed to see how much the city has changed physically in the past few decades. These changes have helped accommodate considerable population growth - San Jose grew from under 100,000 residents in 1950 to 460,000 in 1970 to nearly 800,000 today. According to the Association of Bay Area Governments, San Jose will add approximately 400,000 more people from now until 2035, which will no doubt result in even more dramatic physical changes in the city. Many of these changes also reflect the city's attempts to transform itself from a suburban auto-oriented place to a vibrant, dense, transit rich city.
Santa Clara Street at Fourth looking East, 1975 and 2006. [All photos via Buena Vista Neighborhood Association]
Market Street at San Fernando looking southeast, 1975 and 2006. The Circle of Palms and the Fairmont Hotel are in the background.
Market Street between San Carlos and San Fernando looking east down the Paseo de San Antonio, 1975 and 2006.
For those of us who can't make it to San Jose or don't remember what it used to look like, The Buena Vista Neighborhood Association has compiled side by side "then and now" photographs from 1975 and 2006. This is a great website to explore for anyone interested in San Jose, transportation infrastructure, or historic preservation. There are links to other websites which show then and now photographs of aerial views of the city, its homes, and public buildings. Also be sure to check out the City of San Jose Planning Division Envision San Jose 2040 website to see how they are planning to address future growth.
And of course, check out "Retrofitting suburbia -- San Jose style," written for the August Urbanist about lessons learned from the San Jose Study trip!
- September 14, 2010- posted by Ed Parillon
Across the Bay Area, only one in 10 commuters takes transit to work each day. And half of those transit commuters go to one job center: downtown San Francisco. But since most work is outside of downtowns, SPUR is trying to understand a little more about emerging suburban and non-downtown job centers. This post is the first in an occasional series that will look at the Bay Area's evolving and emerging business districts. For each employment district, we will ask four main questions:
The Location: Where is this place located? How far or near to major transit? And how large from one end to the other?
The Plan: What was the planning vision for this place? Was it master-planned? Did it grow up organically?
The Market: What kinds of jobs and companies are located there?
The Commute: How are workers getting to their jobs each day and why?
In this first edition, we will take a closer look at San Francisco's Mission Bay, an emerging neighborhood and job center surrounding a new UCSF campus.
[Photo Credit: Colleen McHugh]
The Location: Mission Bay takes up about 303 acres of land along San Francisco's eastern waterfront just south of AT&T Park. Most of the jobs are about half a mile or more from the 4th and King Caltrain station and over a mile and a half from the Powell Street BART station in downtown. The neighborhood is being built on former Southern Pacific rail yards, and is bounded by the I-280 freeway on the west, King Street on the north, Mariposa Street on the south, and the San Francisco Bay on the east.
[This post will focus largely on the neighborhood's job center, which is located in the southern part of Mission Bay]
This area is served by Muni's T light-rail line, which connects it to Bayview in one direction, and the Market Street Corridor (and BART) in the other. There is also access to Caltrain, with the 4th and King terminus about a half-mile away from the center of the development.
The Plan: Mission Bay is a master-planned development. The site's design, zoning, and layout are detailed in plans approved by the City's Redevelopment Agency, and the private developer, Catellus Development.* Over the 303 acres, the plan lays out the maximum development figures:
- 6,000 residential units
- 4.4 million square feet of office space
- 2.6 million square foot UCSF campus
- 500,000 square feet of retail, and a 500-room hotel
- 41 acres of public open space, both along Mission Creek and along a boulevard in the development's center
In all, current plans for office space in the area should accommodate about 14,000 jobs, in addition to 9,100 expected at the UCSF campus. This means that the entire development will house about 76 jobs per acre.
The Market: The ability to design and implement a master plan also allows the Redevelopment Agency to influence the types of jobs brought to Mission Bay. Many planned job centers target a variety of industries, but Mission Bay's focus is very clear: biotech. In fact, 92% of the office space in the area is planned to be used by biotechnology companies, though there are other large tenants, such as Gap Inc., (whose Old Navy subsidiary has made 285,000 square feet in Mission Bay its headquarters).
The biotech sector got its start in the Bay Area, largely due to UCSF's presence, but South San Francisco, home to Genentech, had long been the dominant location for firms and jobs. The sector has begun to grow in the city, however, and San Francisco is hoping that offering its amenities along with access to the region's three large research centers (UCSF, UC Berkeley, and Stanford) will build on this growth.
[Photo Credit: Colleen McHugh]
There are two main factors leading to the emergence of biotech in San Francisco, and Mission Bay specifically:
- Having the UCSF Mission Bay campus as an anchor tenant: UCSF has long acted as a biotech magnet for the region, and the new campus puts the university's research activities within walking distance of firms moving into Mission Bay, a level of access that is difficult to replicate elsewhere. The UCSF presence also has the advantage of giving the neighborhood a substantial population and public center early in its development.
- Passing a biotech tax incentive: In order to compete with other centers like South San Francisco and Emeryville, San Francisco passed a seven and a half year payroll tax exemption for biotech firms in 2004, and this year modified the legislation to allow firms to qualify for the exemption regardless of when they apply for it. This exemption is relatively cheap, costing just under $1 million in foregone taxes between 2004 and 2008, compared to total payroll tax receipts of $1.63 billion.
The City's strategy has met with some success, as noted in a December 2009 report from San Francisco's Office of the Controller:
In 2000, San Francisco had only 1.3% of the total life sciences occupied building base in the Bay Area. The figure declined during the recession in the early part of this decade, but did not begin to rise until 2005, after the exclusion went into effect in September 2004. Subsequently, the percentage has risen each year, peaking in 2009 at 6.1% of the regional total, approximately a five-fold increase over the city's share in 2004. Estimates suggest there could be 2,750 life science jobs in San Francisco, up from only 500 in 2004.
The Commute: As discussed above, Mission Bay has direct access to Muni's T-Third light rail, which runs through the center of the development. Additionally, workers in the neighborhood have access to Caltrain at the development's northwestern edge (the 4th and King station can also be accessed via Muni). While the 280 freeway acts as a barrier to walkability, the area is connected to the rest of the city via the street grid, allowing some commuting via walking and cycling.
But as in most job centers, many workers arrive via car. Parking allowances are higher than those in the downtown core; for example, a 250,000 sqft office building in downtown would have about 100 spaces, compared to 250 for a similar office building in Mission Bay, or 500 spaces for a biotech office building.
Precise commute data for Mission Bay is not available yet. But projections from UCSF for its campus indicate a possible mix of modes, with about half of faculty, staff, and students expected to arrive via auto, compared to 32% on transit, and 14% walking or biking. While the driving rates are higher than downtown San Francisco, they are lower than many other job centers in the region.
As we continue this occasional blog series on Bay Area job centers, we'll see how those other places stack up.
*Catellus Development is a real-estate spinoff of the Santa Fe Pacific Corporation, the railroad company that owned the railyards that now comprise Mission Bay.
[Photo Credit: Colleen McHugh]
- September 9, 2010BY JORDAN SALINGER
[Photo Credit: flickr user sandy kemsley]
This post is the first in an occasional series that hopes to make sense of the issues surrounding the implementation of California's smart growth law, SB 375.
California's future demographic reality is clear. We will grow — perhaps not as quickly as in recent decades — but we will nonetheless continue to increase our population. The state projects a population of 44 million by 2020 and well over 51 million by 2035. Even if the recent economic downturn results in slower future population growth, the question still remains: how do we manage this growth with minimal environmental impact?
For much of the past century, this growth was accompanied by increased auto use. But California's 2008 smart growth law, SB 375 — now being implemented throughout the state — proposes a different approach.
A key recent policy decision relates to "Greenhouse gas reduction targets." In August, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released a set of regional targets for per capita greenhouse gas emissions based on decreased driving. The targets refer to how much less the average person will drive in the future. These numbers were submitted by each of the following metropolitan planning organizations, and then reviewed and accepted by CARB.
Targets for reduced per capita emissions from driving:
SCAG (Southern California) 8% 13%
MTC (Bay Area) 7% 15%
SANDAG (San Diego) 7% 13%
SACOG (Sacramento) 7% 16%
San Joaquin COGs 5% 10%
There are two simple ways to understand these targets. First, it is easier to make more significant change in average behavior for a region with a fast-growing population. So long as people in the future drive less than current drivers, the average goes down. That's why the fast-growing Sacramento region has the highest target.
Second, it is more difficult to achieve big changes in the short run. That's why all the targets are much lower for 2020 than 2035.
While the conclusion of these figures is simple — the average Californian is going to be driving less — the way we achieve these emission targets can be more complicated. Encouraging both new growth and infill development in transit rich cities, in turn shifting where people are both living and working, is important. We will also achieve these goals by pricing roadways differently, dissuading drivers from driving during peak hours on congested roadways.
Click here for a PDF of the full report.
- August 31, 2010BY JORDAN SALINGER
[Image courtesy of Streetsblog]
San Francisco has a problem with its roads. Since 1988, the average pavement condition of roads in San Francisco has declined 20%. No longer considered an essential city service to be paid for out of the City's General Fund, city officials are looking for new ways to pay for street repavement projects. They are also prioritizing street repairs based on how fundamental each road is to the overall system.
With the current average PCI (pavement condition index) of San Francisco roads registering at 63 out of 100, we are in a troubling situation. Our roads are no longer considered "Good" (roads with scores of 70 and above). Instead they are dangerously close to "At risk" (roads at 57 and below).
According to a report prepared by San Francisco's capital planning program, "San Francisco's street network as a whole is slightly below the threshold for preventive maintenance. Engineers typically identify a PCI of 64 as a tipping point at which the pavement deterioration rate begins to steeply increase and more expensive treatments are needed for repair." The report also claims the cost of repair of any San Francisco street will be four times more over the course of 70 years of use, if the proper preventive maintenance does not occur. If new funding sources are not identified, our roads stand to decline at the rate of roughly a point per year.
To get a complete analysis of San Francisco's roads, and how we can best address this problem click here.
Known for their work in the intersection of design and data, Stamen and SimpleGeo have joined forces in taking an interactive look at this issue. They take the PCI statistics, readily available on DataSF, and overlay them on a map of San Francisco. We look forward to seeing a lot less red in the future.
Roads with PCI of 0-49 shown in red, 40-69 in yellow [Image courtesy of San Francisco Department of Public Works]
- August 25, 2010BY TIMOTHEA TWAY
While living in the suburbs often appears less expensive than living in the city, this is often not the case when factoring in transportation costs. The Center for Neighborhood Technology just released an expanded version of their housing and transportation index which provides a comprehensive view of neighborhood affordability. Unlike other affordability indices, the Housing and Transportation Affordability Index takes into account transportation costs associated with neighborhood design and location. Their website allows users to explore neighborhood-level data about housing and transportation prices which include information on auto ownership, transit use, and housing density that can help Americans make more informed decisions about where they want to live.
[Map generated on H + T website comparing affordability in the Bay Area]
The H + T Affordability Index is a product of a collaboration with the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Center for Transit Oriented Development and was developed as a project for the Brookings Institution's Urban Markets Initiative. In the works since 2006, the Affordability Index recently expanded its analysis to cover 330 metropolitan areas in the United States, which accounts for more than 80% of the population in the United States and covers more than 161,000 neighborhoods.
SPUR understands the role that effective and affordable transportation options play in affordability and quality of life. Check out SPUR's article on Transit-Oriented Development in the Bay Area as well as our transportation page for more information on how SPUR is working to encourage better transportation options in the Bay Area visit.
- August 18, 2010- posted by Colleen McHugh
Sprawl, conformity, car culture, ennui, decay. These are a few of the themes Arcade Fire tackles in its third album, The Suburbs, released last week. At times nostalgic and at times cautionary, The Suburbs may be most notable (certainly in the realm of SPUR's blog) as an example of city planning commentary in pop culture.
As an NPR review put it, "the members of Arcade Fire have always been fascinated by the subtle ways geography informs our lives." Their newest album weaves a sense of suburban space and place throughout its 16 tracks. Band front man Win Butler sings of how "First they built the road, then they built the town. / That's why we're still driving round and round." Much of the inspiration for the album comes from Butler's youth spent in the suburbs of Houston in the 1980s. And as with Arcade Fire's other notable excursions into the memories of childhood on its first album Funeral, the tone is often wistful. Butler and wife RÃ©gine Chassagne sing longingly for the "wasted hours" of adolescence spent staring out the window of a car, riding bikes in the night to the nearest park, and waiting in parking lots under freeway overpasses. There are also more melancholic references to the impact of growing up in the built environment of suburbia — "all we see are kids in buses longing to be free."
But The Suburbs is not so much an extended story about suburbia in the "˜80s as it is about returning to those cookie-cutter communities today. Images of suburban decay ring throughout the album, as "all of the walls that they built in the "˜70s finally fall." The few redeeming qualities of growing up in the suburbs seem to be gone. As Butler sings in the song "City With No Children," all that remains is "a garden left for ruin by a millionaire inside of a private prison." Perhaps the most anthemic song on an album that on the whole is less filled with those big communal choruses for which Arcade Fire is known, comes near the very end with "Sprawl II (Mountains beyond mountains)." Sounding like ABBA or Blondie's "Heart of Glass," RÃ©gine Chassagne chants the chorus: "Living in the sprawl / Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains / And there's no end in sight / I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights."
Certainly, Arcade Fire is not the first band to sing a cautionary tale about suburban life. Rush condemned the stifling conformity of suburbia in the "˜80s with "Subdivisions," Modest Mouse has oft breached the subject on albums like The Lonesome Crowded West and Building Nothing Out of Something, and the Dirty Projectors' "Temecula Sunrise" is supposedly about a hypothetical future in which millionaires in mass move out of their suburban McMansions that then become colonized by bohemian artists. And these are just a few examples. It almost seems a rite of passage in rock music to vilify mainstream suburban culture. Arcade Fire's melancholic nostalgia probably goes easier on suburbia than most.
Nor is Arcade Fire the first notable band to breach urban planning issues and sing critically about our built environments. David Byrne, former front man of the Talking Heads, is a known bike enthusiast and advocate for more livable cities, having recently designed bike rack sculptures around New York City and written Bicycle Diaries about his observations biking in cities throughout the world. (You can also catch David Byrne's "Arboretum" series of drawings on exhibit at Electric Works through August 21st.) Perhaps my favorite Talking Heads song about urban space is "Nothing But Flowers" — a satirical inversion of Joni Mitchell's famous "Big Yellow Taxis." Rather than paving paradise to put up a parking lot, David Byrne sings in horror as our built environment — parking lots, factories, Pizza Huts, discount stores, and highways — gives way to "nothing but flowers."
Pop culture has a way of providing insight into our changing desires about the spaces in which we live. In The Option of Urbanism, Christopher Leinberger uses the example of television shows to portray society's shifting opinion on urbanism versus suburbanism. He suggests that while TV sitcoms in the baby boomer era (The Brady Bunch, The Dick Van Dyke Show) are set in idyllic suburbia, shows beginning in the 1990's take place in cities (Friends, Seinfeld, Sex and the City).
A recent Slate article from Tom Vanderbilt would suggest that Hollywood itself drives popular opinion associated with car (and car-less) culture. In the article, Vanderbilt gives example after example of movies in which characters without cars are portrayed as "losers." An exception (and a possible sign of progress) is last year's 500 Days of Summer — a movie that romanticizes car-less life spent strolling the streets of downtown LA and admiring the prewar architecture. In a memorable scene on a bench in Angel's Knoll Park, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character Tom "Manhattanizes" the view in front of him, using the arm of Zooey Deschanel's character Summer to draw an image of handsome old buildings in the place of existing parking lots. Though the film conveniently ignores downtown's post-1950's iconic architecture, it remains an example of shifting ideals in pop culture. Even beer commercials are starting to highlight other modes of transportation, as Matthew Roth from Streetsblog noted last week in an article about a new Miller High Life commercial in which a blue-collar worker rides his bike through a snowstorm with a six-pack in the front basket.
Arcade Fire's The Suburbs isn't as much about suburbanism versus urbanism, or cars versus bicycles, as it is a question of "What now?" The album's vision of suburbia may not exactly be an ideal place to live — not in the 1980's and certainly not upon returning to it today. But the narrator of the album does return, nostalgic for his wasted hours of youth and fearful of what may remain for his children. If suburbia is no longer necessarily the dream, what is to be made of those communities we built in the 70s?
Arcade Fire's The Suburbs can be listened to in its entirety on the NPR website. But true to its theme, it probably sounds best through car speakers while driving on an empty highway.
- August 7, 2010BY GABRIEL METCALF
The California High Speed Rail Authority met yesterday in San Francisco. The agenda was packed with many interesting things including a new station area development policy. But the real controversy was about the section between San Jose and San Francisco. I joined hundreds of people during public comment to weigh in on this one small segment.
Over the past few years, a group of high speed rail opponents has been gathering strength in some of the Peninsula communities such as Atherton and Menlo Park, arguing that the train will impact their views, be too noisy, and otherwise ruin their quality of life.
There is certainly a lot of design work to do as the High Speed Rail Authority and Caltrain explore the peninsula segment and figure out how to make "joint operations" work.
But what some of the residents of the Peninsula seem to be asking for is an impossibly expensive project or no project at all. There cannot be a 60-mile subway up and down the Peninsula.
The Bay Area Council penned a strong letter pointing out the flaws with the "build it right or don't build it at all" approach. If "building it right" means addressing every local impact of the project to the satisfaction of every local resident, there will not be enough money in the world to build this project.
TransForm pointed out at the hearing that the issues with the Peninsula communities stem from the fact that the High Speed Rail Authority made the fundamentally correct decision in 2004 to choose an alignment that re-uses existing track where possible and goes through existing cities. (This was in contrast to a cheaper alternative that went through agricultural lands and skirted many existing cities, relying instead on "greenfield" stations.) Having made the big decision the right way, the Authority now faces the political and design problem of actually bringing the train through all of these already-developed communities. Even though the Peninsula creates design challenges it is absolutely critical that the project goes all the way to San Francisco, where the highest ridership stations in the entire state will be located.
I tried to put this project into some larger context in my remarks. California is already the most populous state in the nation (by far). It will grow from 38 million people today to 50 million people by 2030. The real reason we need high speed rail is to provide an armature or framework for organizing this massive growth. Where the interstate highway system was the infrastructure that enabled the suburbanization of America, high speed rail can enable a re-centering of growth. It is the necessary supporting infrastructure for walkable communities in California.
The real question we are facing is whether we are still capable as a society of actually getting something like this built. In the age of CEQA, in the age when we seem to believe that more public process is always better, in the age when we seem to believe that nothing should happen unless there is consensus, can we actually create a transformative infrastructure? As America tries to learn how to compete with "single vision" nations that do not share our democratic values, the question of how we learn how to actually get things done under our political system looms larger and larger as a central problem to overcome.
With every infrastructure project that SPUR supports we face the dilemma of how to be supportive against the tide of opponents while still working constructively to improve projects and make them as good as they can be. We could not be happier with the "big moves" that the High Speed Rail Authority has made thus far. They have picked the right alignment, one that will reinforce center-oriented growth. Now the task is to get the small moves right to find that elusive balance between more expensive designs that address community concerns and the need to keep the project affordable enough to actually build it.
This is the most important project in California. It is a naÃ¯ve and impossible wish to "get it right" if right means the ideal design in every community. We need to get it "right-enough" to attract lots of riders away from the automobile and enable a new pattern of growth in the state.
- July 28, 2010BY EMILY EHLERS
As California lays the high-speed rail groundwork, SPUR continues its series on international precedents. While France built high-speed rail two decades after Japan and within a different state apparatus, the system had remarkably similar results: growth and concentration. France teaches us that a state investment in high-speed rail (HSR) can have major impacts on places that are isolated and suffering from lagging economic performance. The examples of Lille, an old industrial and mining center in northern France, and Nantes, south of Paris, are often cited as success stories.
Euralille [Photo Credit: flickr user savourama]
Lille is an important crossroads in the European HSR network with service to London, Paris and Brussels. Once a quickly depopulating and gritty industrial city, Lille has diversified into knowledge-intensive, service-producing activities. Euralille, the new retail, business and conference center designed by Dutch powerhouse architect, Rem Koolhaas and OMA, is illustrative of the makeover. Euralille straddles Lille's two main railway stations. A standalone city, it houses productive facilities as well as affordable housing. In 1994, Architectural Review dubbed Euralille the "Instant City."
Equally unrecognizable change has befallen Nantes. An industrial port city in the 19th century, in the past 30 years Nantes has developed into a major service sector hug. In 2004, Time magazine named Nantes "the most livable city in all of Europe." The TGV, France's high speed rail network, came to Nantes concurrently in 1981.
The success of the TGV cannot be separated from France's institutional and planning framework. The determination and capacity of a strong French state was instrumental. The nation owns and provides operational subsidies to SNCF, the HSR operator.
[Photo Credit: flickr user Julka2009]
However, this is not to say that localities have no role in high speed rail. In recent years, local government has played a more important role in France. Vis-Ã -vis joint development agreements and direct development subsidies, French localities have exerted pressure to densify around TGV stations. Cities also set the purchase price of land and assemble properties to facilitate development. Lille approached station area development with public private partnerships in mind. Part of the key to Nantes' and Lille's success is the not insignificant recent investment in transit feeder networks that connect high speed rail with outlying areas. Not including Paris, there are 20 light rail systems in France, most built after HSR. Of these 20 systems, 18 are in cities with HSR service. At least in France, the concentration of travel demand thanks to high speed rail and the urban location of most stations have generated a consequent demand for feeder transit, with the usual array of environmental and land use benefits.
All told, the public sector bet that HSR investment would be sufficient to catalyze urban growth and induce private investments. They were right.
- HSR in France is largely a product of the government's building, operating, maintaining the network.
- Local planning and development incentives can play a huge role in sparking station area development.
- HSR can transform decaying cities into the most livable in Europe.
- HSR ridership increases with robust feeder transit.
In the coming weeks, we'll look at "HSR" in the United States and United Kingdom drawing conclusions about what it all means in the California context.
SPUR's policy paper on high-speed rail is due out this fall.