“Rail-Volution.” The first time I heard the made-up word, I giggled and immediately had to know what it meant.
Well, I quickly found out: it is an annual conference focusing on building livable transit communities. In the interest of full disclosure, I did not attend this year’s conference, nor have I ever been. And, I admit that I fell in love with Portland before I had ever been there because I had studied its transit system in grad school and am outright obsessed with Portland now that I have actually experienced their transit.
I also think Boston’s bus system is “wicked-smaht!” So, I like transit. It makes me smile. For some reason it takes me back to learning how to ride my bike — and even before that singing, “The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round” in preschool. It just makes me smile.
The nuts and bolts of transit planning
There were some fantastic presentations and discussions at this year’s conference. There was discussion on policy, research, community outreach, and education.
For those of you who love planning, there was discussion on the intricate nature of planning decisions around transit: for example, how to mix transit types most effectively. There were even discussions around transit finance.
Can you tell I feel like I missed out? I did see one thing missing in the listing of sessions: mixed property types and transit. Where do single-family homes fit in the equation?
Don’t sacrifice single-family neighborhoods
With the close of this year’s Rail-Volution conference, I would like to start a discussion around single-family homes and mass transit. As a proponent of mixed housing-type development and a believer in the importance of diversity, I often wonder if anyone out there is arguing for the historic single-family homes located near transit lines.
I have seen entire neighborhoods of important historic structures demolished for the good of transit – we have all seen it in the past. While I believe in smart growth and creating higher-density communities, I also believe in the single-family property type.
This issue mainly comes up in Southern cities, but can also be seen in places like Cleveland or Los Angeles where the primary housing type is single-family. While these two cities aren’t struggling with this issue now, it will come up in the future as oil prices continue to rise and mass transit gets more attention nationally.
Tell me your thoughts about the single-family property type and its relationship to mass transit. What is your vision?