Shopping morphologies of urban transit station areas: A comparative study of central city station catchments in Toronto, San Francisco, and Melbourne

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - australasia, place - north america, place - urban, mode - tram/light rail, mode - subway/metro, mode - pedestrian, infrastructure - station, land use - planning, land use - transit oriented development


Urban shopping, Walkability, Urban morphology, Mapping, Transit-oriented development


Synergies between shopping and public transit have long been noted, with main streets emerging along tram lines and shopping malls attached to train stations. The shopping-transit synergy is also at the core of transit-oriented development (TOD), a widespread planning approach to urban sustainability. However, there is a lack of morphological research investigating how shopping clusters around transit stations at a fine-geographic scale. This paper explores the shopping morphologies of three central-city subway station areas in Toronto, San Francisco, and Melbourne, mapping and measuring the extent of public and quasi-public shopfronts relative to the station. The morphological analysis of 200, 300, 400, and 500 m walking catchments shows that as the distance from the station increases, the proportion of shopfronts in the total catchment declines. Quasi-public shopping space can enhance the walkable catchment and permeability of a station area and may contribute to urbanity as long as it adds to diversity of access options. The findings highlight the role walkable shopping environments can play within urban transit station areas and show the importance of nuanced consideration being given to morphologies in the analysis and planning of TODs.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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