June 30, 1993 - From the June, 1993 issue

“Transit Villages”: Their Time Has Come

Michael Bernick and Nick Patsaouras argue that linking land use and transportation decisions creates the opportunity to accommodate regional and local growth in transit station areas, where future development can be well served by the regional transportation system with minimal impact on existing residential neighborhoods. Bernick is the elected member of the BART Board, while Patsaouras is a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

A convergence of changes in air quality regulations and transit investment, as well as changing housing markets, make "transit villages" an imaginative idea whose time has come. 

The new transit-based housing is being driven partly by local governments and the region's Air Quality Management District. Surveys show dramatically higher BART ridership among people living within one quarter mile of BART stations than among the general public. While BART is regularly used by only 8% of East Bay commuters, BART ridership among residents of the new transit-based housing developments tops 32%. 

In Los Angeles, the market for living near transit remains to be demonstrated. Yet the same forces propelling this market in the Bay Area are present in Los Angeles: the high cost of automobile insurance, the high land costs, the difficulty of building housing elsewhere, and most of all, the traffic gridlock. 

Living near a station, using rail transit for commuting purposes (while keeping a car for use from time to time) is likely to be an increasingly attractive alternative in 1990s Los Angeles as it already is in the San Francisco area. 


Joint developments around transit stations are the challenging, new public/private partnerships that could stimulate the local construction industry, and at the same time, build "transit villages" that would improve the quality of life. 

"Compact" development of this kind reduces costs for police, fire, and sanitation services. 

Mr. Woo, Mr. Riordan, are you listening?


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