November 2013

In late October, Otak’s Tom Litster attended the Rail~Volution conference in Seattle, Washington. This annual conference attracts a diverse group of people interested in the development of high-capacity transit systems (light rail, commuter rail, streetcar, and bus rapid transit), access to those systems, and the social and economic impacts on the communities served. The region was well-represented in attendance by elected officials, public agency staff, and consultants.

Major themes included transit’s impact on economic development, bringing investment to urban communities, and achieving social and economic equity within station areas. These themes represent a growing national consensus around the measures of success for 21st century transit-oriented development. Along those lines, participation by non-profits on session panels was notable. Their mission is to ensure affordable opportunities for housing and small-scale businesses in developing station areas. There were also a few sessions addressing challenges of the “first mile, last mile” for transit riders. This shows that transit agencies are thinking about customers beyond the actual stop amenities, understanding that the walk and the bike ride are also part of the transit trip. Bike share programs received considerable attention, along with travel demand management and parking strategies.


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