Transit Issues: Transit-Oriented Development

Photo by James Lewis

More Homes Near Transit

Our local and state governments need to address our region’s rising housing costs, lengthening commute, and job sprawl through legislation that allows for more home construction near high-quality transit. Providing enough housing for all Pennsylvanians is an issue of state concern, not simply a local interest, and the state Municipal Planning Code has been woefully under-used as a legislative tool for affirmatively furthering fair and abundant housing in transit-rich and job-rich areas.  

The agency should develop a Transit-Oriented Development policy, similar one found in the Bay Area, to incentivize well designed, mixed-use, higher density development adjacent to frequent transit. Such development would increase sustainable transit ridership, revitalize communities, enhance quality of life, and strengthen economic competitiveness. By focusing housing and jobs near transit, communities can accommodate new growth while minimizing associated congestion and environmental impacts.

Zoning for denser development would allow our region to become greener, more accessible, and more affordable — less centered around car culture, and better able to deliver housing in walkable places not just in Philadelphia, but in many older cities and boroughs throughout Southeast PA with regional rail stations or significant job clusters. 


Stop Building Parking

SEPTA needs to get out of the parking business. We see the agency planning to spend a quarter billion dollars on projects that increase parking capacity at over a half-dozen regional rail stations. Some of these gratuitous parking expansion projects are slated for stations in dense downtown areas, like the 69th Street Transportation Center, already served by multiple modes of transit. Such spending undermines more essential capital projects and incentivizes car ownership by subsidizing riders who have the resources to drive to these stations.

As an alternative to building car parking, the agency should focus on improving existing connecting transit service and providing cheaper alternatives like building bicycle parking. There are even companies such as Oonee that partners with agencies to build secure, attractive, and inexpensive bicycle storage facilities.

SEPTA needs to explore higher-and-better uses of this land than the temporary storage of personal cars. This valuable transit-adjacent land can be much better served by high-density development which would provide transit-accessible housing and jobs to the region.

Help us win a more accessible, sustainable, and equitable Philadelphia: Become a Member to help 5th Square win some of these changes at the state and local level.