Office Development, Rail Transit, and Commuting Choices
Decentralized employment growth has cut into transit ridership across the United States. In California, about 20 percent of those working in office buildings near rail stations regularly commute by transit, nearly three times transit’s modal share among those working away from rail stations. Mode choice models reveal that office workers are most likely to rail-commute if frequent feeder bus services are available, their employers help cover the cost of taking transit, and parking is in short supply. Factors like trip-chaining and the absence of restaurants and retail shops near suburban offices, however, deter transit-commuting. Policy-makers can promote transit-commuting to offices near rail stops by flexing parking standards, introducing high-quality feeder buses, and initiating workplace incentives such as deeply discounted transit passes. While housing has generally been the focus of transit-oriented development, unless the other end of the commute trip—the workplace—is also convenient to transit, transit will continue to struggle in winning over commuters in an environment of increasingly decentralized employment growth.