A livable community has affordable and appropriate housing, supportive features and services, and adequate mobility options for people, regardless of age or ability. As communities address the general shortage of affordable housing, preserving affordable housing in transit-oriented developments (TODs) is one of the challenges that communities can address to increase their livability.
TODs are compact, walkable, mixed-use communities that are developed around high-quality public transportation. Residents often prize these places for the advantages created by the proximity to transportation and other amenities. One consequence of this desirability is that it can increase land and property values, exacerbating housing affordability challenges.
As policymakers try to extend the benefits of TODs to affordable housing locations, they must ensure that those benefits are available to people of low and moderate incomes and to those with different mobility…
In this video, recorded at a national streetcar workshop in Los Angeles last year, Scott Bernstein, president of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, talks about why affordability isn’t just about housing costs anymore: In the early 1920s when every US city of more than 5,000 residents had at least one streetcar line, households spent an average of just 3 percent of household income on transportation. Today families spend an average of 19 percent.
New ways of using bus transit have evolved in the United States over that past decade. Los Angeles’ Metro is unique in that it now operates all fixed-route urban bus and rail transit modes. This allows us, for the first time, to compare how these modes perform without the differences in labor costs, operating practices, and other externalities that can easily confuse modal comparisons.
Affordability has never been just about housing costs. Researchers have long known that it’s the interaction between housing and transportation costs that provides a more meaningful measure of affordability. This is especially true now that transportation costs have increased to an average of 19 percent of household income -- up from 3 percent in the 1920s.
Transportation is now the second highest household expenditure after housing, and gas prices are expected to continue driving that cost up. Communities in Southern California are especially vulnerable as the foreclosure crisis indicates -- since residents drive so much.
The affordability index is a new tool to measure the true affordability of housing choices by combining housing and transportation costs (H+T) in a neighborhood or region and dividing that number by income. Interestingly, the index shows that H+T costs vary significantly: households living in neighborhoods that are relatively dense,…
Koreatown is a culturally vibrant neighborhood in the Wilshire area of the City of Los Angeles, bookended by Downtown Los Angeles on the east and Hollywood on the north. This case study examines how the neighborhood is both intensifying and expanding, fueled by a building boom and large-scale public investment.
Koreatown is one of the most diverse and densely populated neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Although the neighborhood is still primarily associated with Koreans and Korean Americans, Koreatown is home to concentrations of other ethnicities as well, including Hispanics, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and other Asian Americans (Figure 1). The neighborhood’s population density is said to be second only to Manhattan15 and the employment density is one of the highest in the SCAG region (Figure 3). Koreatown’s diverse population and density support not only Korean restaurants, stores and cultural facilities, but also everything from taquerias to karaoke bars…
Transit planning in the United States has tended toward viewing BRT as an analogue to light rail transit, with similar operating patterns. This model, referred to as “Light Rail Lite,” is compared to international best practices, which have often favored the development of a grade-separated bus infrastructure (“Quickways”) that in turn supports a varied mix of all-stops, express, and branching services. This model, dubbed the Quickway model, evolved out of the practical necessity of cities to meet ambitious ridership or mode split targets. The two models are contrasted along the key dimensions of BRT service, and significant differences are identified. Three international case studies—Ottawa, Bogotá, and Brisbane—are reviewed for their particular application of this model and of the results they have obtained. Four domestic cities are compared to these international examples: Eugene, Oregon, and Los Angeles are profiled for their adoption of the Light Rail Lite model, and…
Downtown San Bernardino
The City of San Bernardino is the county seat of San Bernardino County and part of the Inland Empire, one of the largest, fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the U.S. While San Bernardino and Riverside Counties are known for their rapid, low-density, suburban growth patterns, many Inland Empire communities are now reexamining this growth model in the face of concerns about air quality and climate change and the growing demand for walkable, transit-accessible neighborhoods. San Bernardino is one City at the forefront of this trend, taking advantage of the growing interest in downtown living to draw new public and private investment into its historic core. The City’s downtown revitalization efforts are the subject of this case study.
In its efforts to revitalize the downtown, San Bernardino is capitalizing on a strong public sector employment base and high transit ridership rates. San Bernardino was once the economic and cultural heart of…
Inaugurated on July 6, 2003, the Gold Line is a 13.7-mile light rail line in the Los Angeles metro rail system. The line connects the cities of Pasadena and South Pasadena and the northeastern portion of Los Angeles to the Union Station transit hub on the northern edge of downtown Los Angeles (Figure 1). Operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), the line traverses a broad cross-section of neighborhoods as it passes through Chinatown, the diverse communities along the historic Arroyo Seco and 110 Freeway corridor, the affluent residential neighborhoods of South Pasadena and Old Town Pasadena, and extends eastward along the 210 Freeway right-of-way to its terminus at the Sierra Madre Villa Station. Over its relatively short life, the Gold Line has had substantially less ridership than MTA’s Red or Blue Lines.
This study examines the characteristics of station areas and recent nearby transit-oriented development (TOD) activity within…
The new 14.2-mile Orange Line Busway opened in October 2005. Many aspects of the Orange Line’s design should be copied elsewhere: its attractive guideway and stations, state-of-the-art buses, proof-of-payment fare collection, and well-done environmen•tal mitigations. On the other hand, a typical Orange Line bus trip catches about 11 red lights and waits up to nine minutes for them to change. Its end-to-end travel speed is 20 mph. The travel time is also compromised by a 25 mph speed restriction at all intersections and speed limits along other portions of the busway.
The lesson of the Orange Line to transit planners is that an at-grade busway will almost certainly not get signal preemption. This means it will not have the crossing gates that allow its buses to cross intersections at speed. Therefore, every other effort should be made to increase a busway’s travel speed through off-board fare collection, well-located platforms, minimal speed restrictions, and quick…