Transit Oriented Development, Washington
Warren Kerr, Hames Sharley
Perth has many fine qualities and an enviable lifestyle. However, one of its most basic features – its ease of access to where we live, work and play – is in danger of being lost as the increasing population causes traffic congestion and extended commuting times.
No vision for a city ever includes spending more time commuting between key facilities. Until 2000, Perth was an easy place to get around. However, with 1500 new people arriving in Perth each week (in addition to population increase due to our natural growth), we need to solve the traffic problems created by this growth if we are to maintain the free-and-easy lifestyle we have enjoyed until now.
All the best cities in the world have a mixture of transport systems, including metro rail, light rail, buses, ferries, cars, bikes and good public spaces, which encourage pedestrians to walk.
With Perth’s population set to grow by more than three million people in the next 20 years, a 48 per cent increase in dwellings will be required to accommodate this growth. How can this be achieved? Transit Oriented Development (TOD) is part of the solution. These pedestrian-friendly and safe hubs are clustered around within easy walking distance of a transit station, and contain residential, retail and commercial uses at higher levels.
The Rosslyn-Ballston solution in Washington has emerged over 30 years, and has increased the densities in a 400m radius around the transit stops while leaving existing residential areas undisturbed. It has satisfied the need for the inner city areas of Washington to accept greater residential and employment densities. However, it provided the added benefit of increasing housing choice, which has allowed people to remain in the same area as their family dynamics changed.
Not only do TODs reduce dependence on cars, they also provide employment opportunities in close proximity to residential areas. They reduce peak-hour loads to and from the CBD, with employment, retail and recreation opportunities along the public transit route. Increased residential densities provide the opportunity for a greater house mix and choice for different family life-cycles, which leads to a greater personal investment and long-term commitment to the community.
Living near good public transport can reduce the proportion of household income spent on travel. Transport needs to be factored into the housing bundle, where the combined cost of place and transport defines the real cost of living.
Perth needs to learn from communities such as Rosslyn-Ballston if it is to envision a future not tainted by ever-increasing congestion.