Quantifying Transit-Oriented Development's Potential Contribution to Federal Policy Objectives on Transportation-Housing-Energy Interactions
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Quantifying Transit-Oriented Development's Potential Contribution to Federal Policy Objectives on Transportation-Housing-Energy Interactions

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    This project involved a comprehensive and compact study of the built environment in light rail transit station areas in Denver, Colorado and travel behaviors in both TOD- and non-TOD areas in the region. Graduate students from the University of Connecticut and University Colorado Denver participated in a workshop in Denver in Spring 2011 to collaborate on designing questions for two comprehensive travel surveys and subsequently carry out an intensive field campaign to collect data. The principal objectives were to provide insight into how different types of TOD affect travel behavior patterns—specifically reductions in vehicle miles travelled—and to understand what prevents people from living in TOD areas. The latter information was intended to help assess the potential for region-wide reductions in VMT. An additional objective was to provide University of Connecticut students with experience of carrying out collaborative, integrative, and interdisciplinary research with students from a National Science Foundation (NSF) Integrative Graduate Education, Research and Training (IGERT) Program. The intention was to help to build a community of emerging scholars equipped to engage in trans-disciplinary work on policy-relevant issues, and help to better position faculty at the University of Connecticut to advance ongoing initiatives to establish an IGERT in Sustainable Urbanism. The main findings of the research are that although the LRT system in Denver, Colorado, may have met its goals with respect to congestion relief and ridership, the fact that the system has been located in existing travel corridors housing freeways and heavy freight trains limits the extent to which the system can become integrated into the fabric of the built environment. A thorough and systematic index of pedestrian level-of-service shows a tremendous variation in the pedestrian accessibility of stations across the system. In addition, stations that have park-and-ride lots show similar levels of vehicle ownership and VMT to Tech Report locations across the metropolitan area that are nowhere near LRT systems. Only those stations defined as walk-and-ride locations (i.e. those without park-and-ride lots) register lower car ownership and lower levels of VMT. The results of the research are in the process of being disseminated to academics, practitioners, and policymakers interested in the interactions between transportation, housing, and energy demand. To date, the research has resulted in one MA Thesis completed in May 2011, one MS Thesis due to be completed at the end of August 2013, one presentation at the Transportatio n Research Board January 2013 annual meeting, one presentation at the Annual Association of American Geographers’ annual meeting in New York in March 2012, one paper in the Transportation Research Record, and one presentation at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.
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