Gauging the evolution of TOD in Denver
Denver has launched an effort to gauge the changing attitude toward transit as the region's transit system grows and matures.
"Who is TOD in Metro Denver?" is the first of a three-part survey that will eventually establish a benchmark for evaluating the attitudes of businesses, employees and residents toward transit and the advantages of transit-oriented development.
Results of this survey of 300 businesses located within an estimated mile walking distance of metro Denver rail transit stations underscored Denver's position as a region with a comparatively immature transit system.
"The three most significant findings of the business survey confirm that TOD is still evolving in metro Denver," the report noted.
Auto orientation still dominates. Seventy-eight percent of respondents stated that access for parking and cars was influential in their location decisions compared to only 49 percent who stated the benefits associated with transit amenities were influential.
Convenient, free parking, which has been shown to lower transit ridership, is abundant near rail-transit stations outside of downtown Denver. More than 80 percent of non-downtown businesses had free parking adjacent to their building, and 79 percent felt that they had enough or more than enough for employees and customers.
Only four percent of businesses outside of downtown Denver reported offering their employees free or subsidized transit passes as part of travel demand management strategies. By comparison, 33 percent of businesses in downtown Denver provide free or subsidized passes.
By comparison, a 2008 study of three transit station areas in metropolitan Washington, D.C., found businesses value “commute options” over parking availability in their location decisions, and that the majority of businesses offer transit subsidies to their employees.
"Real change in travel behaviors are dependent on the specific policy and investment decisions that are made here," the report concludes. "This research provides the opportunity to analyze how policy and investment decisions affect mode choice in metro Denver."
Researchers suggest Denver address its parking conundrum: "The finding that free and convenient parking is abundant in metro Denver transit station areas suggests that policies aimed at reducing the availability of parking in these areas may boost transit ridership over time. However, until and unless people are provided with a transit system that can compete with the automobile, people will continue to drive and will require a place to park their cars."
The business survey results are part of a larger study that will include surveys of employees and residents and in transit station areas. A final report will summarize the findings of all three studies. Repetition of these surveys in the future will provide further information on how business, employee and resident perceptions and behaviors change over time as the rail-transit system expands and TOD matures.
This report has been added to the Best Pratices here.