Demographics of Transit Zones
The Delaware Valley has a diverse and extensive transit system, serving over one million riders per day. As fuel prices rise and road congestion in the region worsens, the value of that system becomes even more evident. Mass transit takes thousands of cars off the roads; provides affordable, comfortable, and efficient transportation; reduces the fossil fuel dependency of the region; and permits a denser, more walkable development pattern that enables us to curb suburban sprawl.
Mass transit usage has increased significantly in the Delaware Valley over the past few years. If the current trends of rising gas prices and increased reliance on alternative modes of transportation continue, it will be critical to embrace a transit-oriented growth pattern (i.e., to promote housing, retail, services, and jobs within close proximity of transit stations).
For these reasons, transit-oriented development (TOD) is one of DVRPC’s core priorities for the region. TOD refers to a land-use pattern that enables and encourages transit usage. Typically, TOD is located within a half-mile radius of a rail station, since that distance has been widely determined as the farthest most people are willing to walk to transit or from transit to housing, shopping, and services. TOD has enough density to support transit usage, to provide pedestrian-friendly features, and to support an infrastructure with goods and services that are reachable without use of an automobile.
TOD can refer to the historic urban neighborhoods of Trenton or Philadelphia; older suburbs, such as Haddonfield and Jenkintown; or new development built in a way that is transit supportive, such as in Conshohocken, Delanco, or Lansdale.
DVRPC has produced several key studies relating to TOD, including On Track: Progress Towards Transit-Oriented Development in the Delaware Valley (07030), Developing Around Transit: TOD Plans for Ellsworth-Federal, North Wales, and Warminster (06034), Implementing Transit-Oriented Development: Four TOD Plans for Girard, Lansdale, Thorndale, and Woodbury (04044), and Linking Transit, Communities and Development: Regional Inventory of Transit-Oriented Development Sites (03027). In addition, DVRPC developed a Transit Score tool that rates places on their transit supportiveness based on population and job densities (specifically, persons per acre, jobs per acre, and zero-car households per acre).
This report is DVRPC’s next step toward understanding and analyzing transit-served areas in the region, to inform the public, its member governments, and its own work in shaping a transit-oriented region. It utilizes valuable demographic data focusing on Transit Zones – areas within a half-mile of rail transit stops.