People PlacesIdea: The Transit Home

proposed by John December (May 16, 2005)

Summary: Housing could be built that does not have any parking space associated with it. People who chose to live in these housing units agree to not have a car and buy a transit pass. In fact, a good idea would be to rent to only to people who buy a 1-year's or longer-term transit pass. Ideal places for these transit housing units would be at transit stations or transfer points.

In many areas, the construction of new apartments or condominiums requires a certain number of parking spaces to be included in the construction. This requirement reduces the amount of space available for housing, increases the cost of construction, builds in additional automobile traffic into the neighborhood, and discourages walking and the use of transit.

EXAMPLES

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If it would be legal to build homes without parking spaces, the residents who choose to live there could pay less for rent and use transit and walking to get around. The result would be less automobile traffic, more pedestrian traffic, more affordable housing, and built-in ridership for transit systems. Many apartments like this already exist (I live in an older apartment building which has no parking space for any unit, and I don't have a car and use transit to get around).

Builders might create entire buildings of these apartment homes near transit stops or perhaps have designated transit home units in a particular building. The property manager renting or selling such homes would have to make it known that the unit has no parking space and that the resident cannot have a car and must buy a transit pass. This could be done by adding the transit pass cost automatically to the rent or making the rental application require having a long-term transit pass as a condition of living there.

Because transit and affordable housing are often goals of an area's regional plan, perhaps a municipality could allow, encourage, or require transit home units to be built in the areas near transit stops. If more people would like such a home type, more could be built. This would make maximum use of the space near transit for people willing to use transit as opposed to using the space near transit for parking automobiles on surface parking lots.

Ideal locations of transit homes would be at the transit transfer points of bus or transit systems. For example, many cities have a timed bus system in which all of its buses meet at a central point where passengers can transfer. A design which would place housing in the upper floors of a transfer point or center would also accomplish this idea by placing the housing of people willing to use transit near transit points. Because these transit homes would be placed near points of high activity and transit vehicle traffic, as well as arranged densely, every effort should be made to soundproof the living space with insulation in excess of what would be placed in apartments or condos. Residents should be able to have reasonable quiet at all times.

A transit home would not be an appropriate choice for all people. But by making it legal for builders to create homes for people who do not wish to have a car, considerable space could be saved, and a built-in base of ridership will be available for transit use.

References

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