Transit and Urban Land Use Impacts
Three dimensions of land use impacts by public transit, namely transit access points, are influenced by the level of transit use:
  • Accessibility. The sole purpose of a transit stop is to provide accessibility to the transit system, such as stops along a bus route or subway stations. Land use impacts for the stops are often minimal, if non-existent, with basic facilities to accommodate waiting time such as shelters. Accessibility defines the local market area of a transit service. For instance, for a new residential area, a minimum catchment area of 400 dwelling units or 1000 residents, beyond a 450 meter walking distance (5 minutes) to a transit stop is often required for an extension of service. In a low transit use environment, accessibility to a transit stop has little if no impact on land use as access is a mere matter of convenience. As the level of transit use increases, accessibility has a significant impact on local land use by favoring band-like developments along transit lines, since a growing share of the local population uses transit as a factor of urban mobility.
  • Convergence. This generally applies to more important transit stops, notably rail and subway stations with terminal structures, including waiting areas and basic services. The transit station is a point of convergence of local traffic and often serves more than one mode. The impacts on land use are varied, ranging from park-and-ride facilities to activities that take advantage of flows, such as restaurants and convenience stores, and possibly office activities. The stations have to consider the nature and scale of movements generated. Convergence in a low level of transit use implies walking from the vicinity, basic park-and-ride possibilities and occasional drops and pickups by passenger vehicles. Transit subsystems, such as local buses, rarely converge to stops/terminals in a low transit use environment, since the demand would not justify them. As transit use increases, the convergence function may become significant, with substantial park-and-ride facilities and dedicated local transit routes collecting passengers for the stop/terminal.
  • Integration. Are the large, multi-level terminals with well integrated high-density planning designs. Local land-use is consequently highly linked with the transit system, which supports a large share of the mobility. The terminal acts as a local central place with its implied hierarchy of land uses with adjacent commercial activities. Medium and low density residential areas are located further away. There are different possible levels of integration, from simple terminal design with little local impact to high integration to local land use where transit is dominant. Significant transit terminals offer opportunities to integrate local land use to transit accessibility.