Applying appropriate TOD parking ratios and requirements, or implementing parking maximums for each land use, is a critical element to “right sizing” parking for TOD. Depending on the proximity and level of service of local transit, standard parking ratios can be significantly reduced. Although some communities, particularly in the suburbs, find the reduction of parking ratios in TOD projects suspect, leading research by the ULI, government and smart growth organizations indicates otherwise. In many cases, people choose to live and work in a TOD because they seek an environment that is walkable, provides convenient amenities, and offers access to transit.
The integration of housing provides residents with direct access to transit, while increasing ridership. Households with convenient access to mass transit will likely be able to avoid the significant cost of owning and maintaining a second car, which can result in savings of several thousand dollars annually. A Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) study found that TOD residents made 44 percent fewer automobile trips than estimated by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) manual. The same study recommended reducing parking ratios in residential TODs by as much as 50 percent (Arrington, 2008).
Car sharing services (such as Zip Car) can further eliminate or reduce the need for a primary or secondary car in a TOD environment. These programs provide residents, employees andcommuters quick and easy access to a car when needed. In Hoboken, N.J., the city collaborated with Hertz Global Holdings to become the first corporate-city partnership to implement a car sharing program. This program allows residents to rent from a fleet of vehicles on an hourly basis and park them in specially designated spaces throughout Hoboken. For most residents, the cars are easily accessible, and members can reserve their cars in advance.
Utilization of Shared Parking
Shared parking reduces the number of parking spaces required in a development, as well as maximizes the use of limited land resources. Defined as “the use of a parking space to serve multiple land uses without conflict,” shared parking strategies can cut structured parking costs significantly by reducing the quality of spaces that need to be constructed. To maximize the impact of this strategy, facilities should be consolidated and shared to the greatest extent possible. The utilization of the same parking space by multiple user groups (i.e., parking for commuters during the day, and residents or retail patrons in the evening and weekends) maximizes the use of the parking area, reduces the amount of parking needed to be built, and financially supports the facilities’ capital and operating expenses (if parking fees apply).
Through the application of shared parking principles for TOD projects, the amount of parking to be built can be reduced, thereby enhancing the project’s economic viability, benefits and economic return. Shared parking also reduces the land devoted to parking, and provides more developable area, open space and amenities. Consolidating parking for multiple uses allows for the opportunity to increase the area’s “sense of place,” reduces the cost of developing and maintaining parking, and increases the security and user comfort due to increased user activity.
Effective Parking Structure Design
The planning and design of structured parking within a TOD requires the integration of strategic planning principles. Parking facilities in mixed-use, transit-convenient areas serve several user groups, and can provide a “gateway” or a destination for a community. Parking can play an important role not only in encouraging more pedestrian movement at street level, but also in sparking further growth in surrounding areas. Early consideration of parking in the planning process will identify the best opportunities for integrating parking, as well as create the potential for incorporating mixed-use, to utilize potentially limited space more effectively. This strategy can increase activity, as well as architectural appeal and pedestrian scale for the structure, the streetscape and the entire block or neighborhood. Combined with the implementation of shared-use strategies, this can generate additional turnover, additional revenue and magnify on-street activity.
TOD parking planners should leverage the associated pedestrian activity to create “people places.” Given the amount of pedestrians that will come and go from a parking structure, the access and egress areas should be planned and designed as public spaces with adjacent retail and quality hardscape, water and landscaping elements.