It’s not unusual for people to worry about parking in places where they totally don’t need to worry about parking. The consultancy Nelson\Nygaard recently surveyed parking availability in 27 mixed-use districts across the U.S. and found that parking supply exceeded demand by an average of 65 percent. In nine areas where parking was thought to be scarce, the oversupply ranged from 6 to 82 percent.
How is Houston able to pull that off with no additional funding?
Well, as Jarrett Walker, one of the plan’s lead designers, explains, it’s all about prioritizing routes that will plausibly attract riders. The old system, like many bus routes in the United States, expended a lot of resources on very low-ridership routes for the sake of saying there’s “a bus that goes there.” The new plan says the focus should be to provide reasonably frequent service on routes where reasonably frequent service will attract riders. That does mean that some people are further than ever from a transit stop. But it means that many more Houstonians will find themselves near a useful transit stop.
Focusing transit planning on the goal of promoting transit services that are actually used strikes me as common sense. But it’s also the best way to create a virtuous circle of sound urban planning and transportation management. A system with a lot of riders is a system with a lot of advocates for expansion and improvement.
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