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Who Is TOD in Metro Denver? A Business Survey Report

Research in the Denver region to benchmark how people’s attitudes, perceptions and behaviors are changing as transit-oriented development policy and investment decisions are being made

Executive Summary

This report summarizes the findings of a survey conducted in April 2009 of 300 businesses located within an estimated one-mile walk distance of a metro Denver rail transit station. It provides information regarding the types of business, number of employees, ownership, square footage, management's motivations for selecting current location, satisfaction with current location, intent to move, supply and demand for parking, and use of transit management strategies and incentives of businesses located in existing rail-transit station areas.

The Who is TOD in Metro Denver? study is the first original research in the Denver region to benchmark how people’s attitudes, perceptions and behaviors are changing as transit-oriented development (TOD) policy and investment decisions are being made. Metro Denver has a relatively small transit system compared to regions such as Washington, D.C., that have more mature transit systems and TODs. In fact, the three most significant findings of the business survey confirm that TOD is still evolving in metro Denver.

Auto orientation still dominates. While many businesses near station areas perceive benefits associated with locating near rail transit stations, these benefits have not risen above the importance placed on accommodating the automobile. 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.

There is abundant free parking. Convenient, free parking (which has been associated with low 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.

Use of travel demand management (TDM) strategies, including incentives to use transit, is low outside of downtown. Only four percent of businesses outside of downtown Denver reported offering their employees free or subsidized transit passes. By comparison, 33 percent of businesses in downtown Denver provide free or subsidized passes.

These results contrast with a 2008 study of three transit station areas in metropolitan Washington, D.C., that found businesses value “commute options” over parking availability in their location decisions, and that the majority of businesses offer transit subsidies to their employees. This contrast suggests that business perceptions and behaviors in the Denver region are likely to change as the transit system continues to expand.

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.