D R. Porter

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - station, land use - planning, place - urban, mode - rail, mode - tram/light rail, mode - subway/metro


Urban planning, Town planning, Real estate development, Rail transit stations, Public policy, Metropolitan area planning, Markets, Development, Decision making, Community planning, City planning


Building on a 19-region study of transit-focused development, some directions are suggested for evolving development opportunities associated with the light rail transit systems built and planned in recent decades. Transportation and land use planners continue to propound the concept of transit-focused development that can increase use of transit systems, reduce dependency on automobiles, create desirable living and working environments, and help to meet environmental goals. In their expectations of achieving a substantial amount of transit-focused development, however, planners must recognize the realities of the real estate markets, public policy trends, and the nature of rail lines themselves. Especially along the light rail lines that provide service in many regions, development opportunities will be influenced by changes in the development industry and its primary markets, increasing deference to neighborhood and community groups in decision making regarding development, and the generally lower intensity of use of suburban rail stations compared with many stations along heavy rail lines. Successful development around light rail stations, as with heavy rail systems, will require a timely confluence of market demand with supportive public policies and actions. Unlike experience with heavy rail systems, however, noncentral-business-district stations on light rail lines are more likely to attract relatively small, uncomplicated projects. Transit agencies and local governments will be required to invest more time and energy in nurturing these kinds of projects.