Transit-Supportive Guidelines

Section 2.6 Specialized Uses

2.6.1 Major Transit Stations

Major transit stations should be designed to optimize their potential as transit-supportive places. Plans should be put in place to capitalize on new development and place-making opportunities that can help to integrate them into their surroundings and support connections between various modes of movement.

Major transit stations are focal points within a community’s transit network that act as important reception areas for riders and places of transfer between various modes and systems. As convergence points, they are often complicated by multiple layers of infrastructure required to support various modes, including pedestrians and cyclists, and in many cases, automobiles. This can have an impact on the way in which these uses interact with their surroundings. Overlapping infrastructure can negate potential for intensification and the creation of transit-supportive environments and may create awkward connections for passengers.

Given the high levels of transit service provided, major transit stations represent important opportunities for the development of transit-supportive environments, which can attract new users and support higher levels of access. Ensuring that major transit stations afford seamless connections between various modes of transportation is an important strategy towards reducing regional travel times and enhancing access to the transit system.

The Sunset Transit Center in Oregon is a major transit hub bringing together LRT, bus, park and ride and cycling facilities. The Center has been designed to create a welcoming environment for users with high-quality architecture and the integration of a signature open space.

The Sunset Transit Center in Oregon is a major transit hub bringing together LRT, bus, park and ride and cycling facilities. The Center has been designed to create a welcoming environment for users with high-quality architecture and the integration of a signature open space.

Strategies Legend
Applicable Community Scale
Small Community icon Small
Mid-size Community icon Mid-size
Large Community icon Large
Big City icon Big City
Planning Scale
Site Planning icon Site
District Planning icon District
Municipal Planning icon Municipal
Regional Planning icon Regional
Green Action icon Green Action

Strategies:

maximize investment

  1. Maximize the investment in transit at major transit stations by ensuring infrastructure is organized in a manner that preserves the potential for transit-supportive development in and around the station. This can be achieved in a number of ways including:
    • the establishment of a land management strategy in and around existing and proposed transit stations to preserve opportunities for new development;
    • promoting compact inter-modal facilities that minimize loss of redevelopment opportunities while maximizing efficiency for transit riders; and
    • establishing station area visions (Guideline 2.4.3) and development frameworks to outline intentions for that station area and guide investments in infrastructure.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning iconLarge Community iconBig City icon

Applying a transportation hierarchy for major transit stations prioritizes trip reduction and more active forms of transportation.

Applying a transportation hierarchy for major transit stations prioritizes trip reduction and more active forms of transportation.

Metrolinx’s Mobility Hub Guidelines provide guidance for the development of major transit stations designated as mobility hubs in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

Metrolinx’s Mobility Hub Guidelines provide guidance for the development of major transit stations designated as mobility hubs in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

Recommended Resources

Mobility Hub Guidelines (Metrolinx)

Union Station Master Plan and Union Station District Plan (City of Toronto)

Union Station Master Plan (Denver Union Station Public Authority)

prioritizing movement

  1. Within and around major transit station areas, prioritize initiatives that promote travel behaviour and transportation modes according to the following hierarchy:
    • Vehicle trip reduction: encouraging a mix of uses within and around the station and enhancing intermodal connections to avoid or reduce trips;
    • Walking and cycling: enhancing access for pedestrians and cyclists;
    • Transit: providing efficient access and egress for transit vehicles;
    • Ridesharing: promoting access for high occupancy vehicles such as carpools
    • Car sharing and taxis: facilitating car sharing and passenger drop-off;
    • Single-occupant vehicles: providing safe and efficient automobile parking and access.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning iconLarge Community iconBig City icon

design

  1. Design major transit stations as welcoming, hospitable and vibrant public places that strengthen connections to and between surrounding areas and act as focal points of neighbourhood activity.District Planning iconSite Planning iconLarge Community iconBig City icon
  2. Design major transit stations to strengthen community identity through the use of high quality architecture and public realm treatments such as public art, streetscaping, street furnishings and landscaping.District Planning iconSite Planning iconLarge Community iconBig City icon
  3. Provide a mix of higher-density residential, commercial and service uses reflective of the level of transit service in and around the station area. This will support transit ridership and promote a more vibrant pedestrian environment.District Planning iconSite Planning iconLarge Community iconBig City icon
  4. At transit stations on larger land parcels, introduce a walkable network of public streets that can help to support intensification and enhance community connectivity.District Planning iconSite Planning iconLarge Community iconBig City icon
  5. Municipalities or transit agencies should develop policies for major transit stations to ensure that they are initially developed as, or can evolve into, transit-supportive environments.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconLarge Community iconBig City icon

2.6.2 Office Parks

The location, layout and design of office parks should promote transit use by strengthening the relationship between buildings and the street and incorporating a greater mix of uses that can help to activate the stop/station area and extend hours of activity.

As major hubs of employment, office parks can be significant generators of transit ridership. Unfortunately the location, layout and design of many suburban office parks are not supportive of transit. Buildings set back from the street and dispersed between large areas of surface parking create long walking distances for pedestrians and transit riders, while circuitous road patterns lengthen travel times and result in inefficient transit service. This is coupled with large single-use areas of office development that result in inconsistent levels of ridership with peaks during the morning and evening commute and low ridership throughout the day and evening.

Situating buildings close to the street will help to minimize walking distances for pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders, contribute to a more pedestrian-friendly street environment and minimize the impacts of large areas of surface parking. Incorporating a greater mix of uses throughout office parks and in particular clustered in and around stops and station areas will help to minimize service peaks and valleys and make it easier for area employees to readily access the services they may need throughout the day or evening.

Buildings oriented to key pedestrian routes and streets leading to and from transit stops can help improve ridership. Likewise, in planning service for existing office parks, transit route planning may need to consider existing building entrances and exits in order to reduce walking distances for transit users.

Buildings oriented to key pedestrian routes and streets leading to and from transit stops can help improve ridership. Likewise, in planning service for existing office parks, transit route planning may need to consider existing building entrances and exits in order to reduce walking distances for transit users.

Strategies:

land use

  1. Avoid large, new single-use office parks, which result in usage peaks and valleys and require employees to travel longer distances to access services. Office uses should instead be encouraged to locate in mixed-use nodes and corridors.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  2. The provision of a greater mix of uses should be encouraged in existing and planned office parks in order to maintain levels of activity throughout the day and enable more balanced provision of transit service.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning iconSite Planning icon
  3. For offices adjacent to stop/station areas, incorporate a mix of ground floor uses such as restaurants, retail or service uses that can help to enliven the station area.District Planning iconSite Planning icon

Technology Square Development
Cambridge, MA

In 2002, a series of three ten-storey 1960s-era office buildings north of the MIT campus were renovated into a more transit-supportive, pedestrian-friendly, environment. Four new buildings were added to create a pedestrian corridor, ground related retail space and additional density.

Urban Form Case Studies: Employment Lands (Ontario Growth Secretariat)

Urban Form Case Studies: Employment Lands (Ontario Growth Secretariat)

Recommended Resources

Office development, rail transit and commuting choices (Cervero)

Transportation Demand Management for Site Plan Development (Arlington County Department of Environmental Services)

layout

  1. Orient semi-public amenities such as cafeteria or gym facilities where they can help to animate key pedestrian routes or stop/station areas.Site Planning icon
  2. Office parks often feature large block sizes, which inhibit connectivity. Where feasible, reduce block size and limit to a maximum 160m block length.District Planning iconSite Planning icon

built form

  1. Orient buildings in office parks to line key pedestrian streets and routes leading to and from transit stops/station areas.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  2. Structure large areas of surface parking to create a more walkable street and block pattern through the alignment of driveways and introduction of sidewalks and streetscaping.Site Planning icon

parking

  1. Reduce overall parking demand in office parks by:
    • requiring developments to implement transportation demand management (TDM) strategies;
    • eliminating mandatory parking requirements from zoning standards near transit routes;
    • encouraging greater use of shared parking; and
    • permitting shared on-street parking for visitors instead of dedicated single use visitor parking areas.District Planning iconSite Planning icon

cycling

  1. Given the larger block sizes and overall travel distances within office parks, encourage the provision of amenities that support cycling to work, including:
    • bike lockers at nearby stop or station areas to support commuting to and from the stop/station area; and
    • signed, marked cycling routes throughout the office park linking to transit facilities and local cycling networks.District Planning iconSite Planning icon

shuttle services

  1. Transit agencies are encouraged to work with employers to operate shuttle services from transit lines into office parks.District Planning icon

2.6.3 Industrial and Employment Areas

Industrial and employment areas should incorporate a greater range of uses and be designed to minimize walking distances and enhance conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.

Though important places of employment and potential key destinations within a region and municipality’s transit system, the typically large lot sizes and low employment densities of industrial and employment areas result in environments that are difficult to access and are not transit-supportive. Large setbacks and block sizes in newer suburban employment areas create long distances between transit stops and result in a poor environment for pedestrians.

Incorporating a greater mix of uses, where permitted, creates an opportunity for the location of higher-density employment uses closer to transit. Concentrating higher-density employment and a mix of uses near existing and planned transit routes, where possible, can help to support higher levels of transit service and enhance employee access to a greater range of uses. By orienting buildings toward streets and designing them to contribute to the pedestrian experience, industrial and employment areas can be structured to enhance access for pedestrians and cyclists, minimize walking distances between transit stops and improve the character and quality of transit connections.

Transit-supportive employment areas can be achieved through the placement and orientation of employment buildings and the coordination of access and servicing between developments.

Transit-supportive employment areas can be achieved through the placement and orientation of employment buildings and the coordination of access and servicing between developments.

Strategies:

land use & density

  1. Encourage higher-density employment and a mix of uses where appropriate, along designated transit corridors within employment and industrial areas. This can help to increase access to transit and support ridership (Guideline 1.1.7).District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  2. Locate uses with lower employment densities, such as larger manufacturing firms and warehousing or truck transportation firms that require extensive land areas for buildings and storage, further from transit.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  3. Encourage employment-related services, retail and restaurants to co-locate at intersections and next to transit stops where they can be more easily accessed by local employees and discourage lunchtime automobile trips.Site Planning icon
  4. Establish minimum density thresholds in industrial and employment areas, where appropriate. This can help to facilitate the provision of more cost effective transit service to these areas.Municipal Planning iconDistrict Planning icon

Coordination of access and servicing in industrial and employment areas, such as this example in Vaughan, can enable traditional employment buildings to be situated closer to the street.

Coordination of access and servicing in industrial and employment areas, such as this example in Vaughan, can enable traditional employment buildings to be situated closer to the street.

Recommended Resources

Urban Form Case Studies: Employment Lands (Ontario Growth Secretariat)

Transportation Demand Management for Site Plan Development (Arlington County Department of Environmental Services)

design

  1. Orient buildings to front onto public streets as close to the street line as possible. This will enhance access for pedestrians and cyclists (Guideline 2.4.1).District Planning iconSite Planning icon

parking

  1. Discourage the provision of surface parking between the front of an employment building and the street. A preferable location is side-yard parking, which can be shared between uses and enables buildings to be situated closer to the street.Site Planning icon

access & servicing

  1. The coordination of access and servicing between uses can help to enable the provision of mid-block pedestrian connections providing access to companies located in the interior of industrial and employment subdivisions.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  2. Vehicular access and servicing should be shared and coordinated between adjacent developments at the site planning stage to minimize driveways. This will reduce the potential for conflict between vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists and improve the quality of the streetscape for people travelling to and from transit stops or station areas (Guideline 1.1.7).Site Planning icon

location of transit

  1. Locate transit stops and shelters in coordination with adjacent uses and building entrances to increase opportunities for natural surveillance. This creates a more inviting environment for people waiting for transit (Guideline 2.3.1).Site Planning icon

cycling

  1. Provide bike lockers at local transit stations and sheltered bike racks at places of employment and transit stops. This can help to support employees wishing to ride from their transit stop to work or visa versa.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  2. Incorporate bike racks at bus stops and key destinations in and around employment areas in order to promote cycling as an option to access services during lunch hours or throughout the day.District Planning icon

2.6.4 Large Shopping Centres and Big Box Retail

The location, layout and design of large shopping centres and big–box retail uses should enhance access for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users while preserving for intensification that will enable the development of a node over time.

Large shopping centres and big box retail uses have the potential to act as significant generators of transit ridership. However, poor layout and design often limits transit use. Most large retail centres are set back from surrounding streets and surrounded by large areas of surface parking. This resulting in long walking distances between the shopping centre and nearby uses and/or transit routes.

In many instances, a lack of through streets and poor coordination between developments means that there is no coherent pattern of public streets, blocks and driveways. Pedestrians and transit users can be discouraged by having to traverse large parking lots to reach retail uses. Additionally, when direct access is provided, transit vehicles must take circuitous routes, increasing transit vehicle travel times.

While large shopping centres and big box uses should ideally be sited as close to the street or transit station as possible, in many instances these uses are dependent on large numbers of auto users and require large areas of surface parking. When designed carefully, surface parking can enhance connectivity between shopping centres and surrounding areas, increase pedestrian safety and create a pattern to support new uses and transit-supportive intensification over time.

Planning shopping centres with a secondary network of streets and blocks can set the stage for long-term intensification. The use of parking structures can help to free up large areas of surface parking for new development.

Planning shopping centres with a secondary network of streets and blocks can set the stage for long-term intensification. The use of parking structures can help to free up large areas of surface parking for new development.

Strategies:

land use

  1. Locate large shopping centres and big box retail uses in conjunction with a mix of higher-density uses including employment, commercial and residential uses.District Planning iconSite Planning icon

The redevelopment of this big box retail use in St. Paul, MN established a pattern of streets and blocks that enhanced connections north to the corridor and will enable the gradual intensification of the site over time.

The redevelopment of this big box retail use in St. Paul, MN established a pattern of streets and blocks that enhanced connections north to the corridor and will enable the gradual intensification of the site over time.

Recommended Resources

Malls into Mainstreets (Congress for New Urbanism)

Municipal Code – Large Retail Facility Design (City of Bellingham, WA)

Central Corridor Development Strategy: Section 3.3 (City of Saint Paul, MN)

layout & design

  1. Locate suburban shopping centres and big box retail uses as close to the street and/or transit station as possible so they can enhance pedestrian access and contribute to street-level pedestrian activity.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  2. At existing shopping centres, reduce the effect of blank walls facing streets or key pedestrian routes through the use of retail liners composed of smaller stores that can animate the street and enhance the walk for pedestrians.Site Planning icon
  3. At large regional shopping centres, which act as focal points within a transit network, integrate transit facilities within the layout and design of their site. Transit facilities should:
    • be situated to minimize diversions from existing transit routes;
    • provide direct, dedicated pedestrian connections to the primary entrance of the shopping centre;
    • be designed to provide comfortable waiting conditions for passengers; and
    • integrate cycling facilities for transit and retail users.Site Planning icon
  4. At large shopping centres and big box retail uses that are not sited against the street edge, put in place a pattern of secondary streets and blocks. In the short term this will facilitate access for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users, and in the long term will enable intensification and a greater mix of uses. This can be achieved by:
    • treating access roads and driveways as new streets with sidewalks and streetscape treatments that connect the retail uses with adjacent streets and surrounding developments;
    • aligning access roads and driveways with adjacent parcels so that they establish a continuous street and block network;
    • ensuring that new streets and driveways align with existing streets in surrounding neighbourhoods and developments; and
    • designing the street and block system to achieve a minimum street intersection density of 0.3 intersections per hectare with a minimum of 0.6 intersections per hectare in mixed-use nodes and corridors.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  5. Where large shopping centres and big box retail already exist, ensure new buildings preserve opportunities for the gradual extension of a street grid through the site over time.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  6. Reduce the minimum parking requirements for large shopping centres and office buildings to facilitate intensification in areas that are well served by transit.District Planning iconSite Planning icon

2.6.5 Institutional Campuses

Institutional campuses should work with local transit providers to coordinate transit service and ensure that key centres of activity are sufficiently served without detracting from the overall efficiency of a community’s transit service.

The large number of trips generated by institutional campuses such as universities or hospitals means that they naturally become important hubs within a community’s transit system. Despite this, the planning and design of these uses can often lead to environments that are not supportive of transit. Large areas of surface parking and buildings set back from the street can create unfriendly environments for pedestrians and increase walking distances. Multiple buildings and dispersed uses combined with irregular internal street patterns can pose difficulty for transit providers, creating circuitous routes that result in longer travel times.

Transit providers must balance a range of issues, primarily related to access, to ensure that clusters of activity within the campus are afforded the service they need without adding excessive time to the trip of other transit users. Higher transit usage resulting from better coordination of service can reduce demand for parking, freeing up areas of surface parking for new uses and minimizing parking overspill into adjacent neighbourhoods.

Integrating transit stops with major activity centres within campuses can boost ridership and limit the number of required stops.

Integrating transit stops with major activity centres within campuses can boost ridership and limit the number of required stops.

Strategies:

coordination of service

  1. Institutional campuses and transit agencies should coordinate routes to strike a balance between level of transit access within the campus and the efficiency of service provided.Site Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  2. Encourage institutions and transit agencies to coordinate schedules. This will ensure that the appropriate level of transit service is provided throughout the day and evening. Schedules should be reviewed on at least a yearly basis.Site Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  3. Establish inter-agency partnerships between institutions and transit providers. These represent opportunities to coordinate transit service and develop innovative funding or service arrangements.Site Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon

Institutional campuses can be significant generators of transit ridership.

Institutional campuses can be significant generators of transit ridership.

U-Pass systems can significantly increase ridership while providing a discount for students.

U-Pass systems can significantly increase ridership while providing a discount for students.

Recommended Resources

University of Utah Campus Master Plan (University of Utah)

Cornell Master Plan for the Ithaca Campus (Cornell University, NY)

enhancing access

  1. Where feasible, provide transit service to major activity hubs such as libraries and student centres in the case of universities or out-patient wings in larger hospitals.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  2. Locate transit stops/stations close to primary building entrances where they can afford easy access to facilities. Where opportunities exist, explore the integration of stops or stations in campus buildings.Site Planning icon
  3. Where direct transit access to facilities is not feasible, provide direct pedestrian connections leading from the stop to the facility. These should be supported with a range of pedestrian amenities such as pedestrian-oriented lighting, seating and wayfinding signage directing users to their destinations.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  4. Where institutional campuses are the primary generators of transit uses within a community, land should be set aside and consideration provided for the creation of an major transit hub capable of serving the multiple routes that may converge there. This should be located close to major activity centres such as libraries or out-patient facilities.District Planning iconSite Planning icon
  5. At hospitals, organize ambulance or patient drop off lay-by lanes to minimize impacts on key pedestrian routes leading into and out of the hospital.Site Planning icon

fare incentives

  1. Consider fare incentives and programs such as a U-Pass system. U-Passes provide all students and staff with access to free or affordable transit fares and are an excellent opportunity to increase transit ridership (Guideline 3.5.1).Municipal Planning icon

planning process

  1. Campus planning should account for the provision of transit to ensure that new uses can be adequately served by transit and/or can help to enhance ridership growth.District Planning iconSite Planning icon

2.6.6 Public/Civic Infrastructure

Public/civic infrastructure should be planned and coordinated alongside long-term planning for transit to ensure that it is designed to support and accommodate future transit use.

Given the important role that highway interchanges, bridges, utility easements and other public/civic infrastructure elements have serving our towns and cities, they are often located along important movement corridors, which can become natural routes within an expanding transit network. In some cases, these strategic elements are designed to meet current demands in the absence of appropriate planning for future transit and/or enhanced facilities for pedestrian and cyclists. This may result in costly reconstruction at a later date if and when transit is planned, adding substantially to the cost of implementing new transit infrastructure or in some cases limiting the potential for transit altogether.

By accounting for potential long-term investments in transit at the outset, public/civic infrastructure can be designed to accommodate future transit investment. This can help to reduce costs, and in some cases ensure that the potential for transit is preserved where it might otherwise not have been.

Though a major thoroughfare, the Prince Edward (Bloor) Viaduct in Toronto has been designed to accommodate motor vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, and includes a separate level beneath the road to accommodate subway trains.

Though a major thoroughfare, the Prince Edward (Bloor) Viaduct in Toronto has been designed to accommodate motor vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, and includes a separate level beneath the road to accommodate subway trains.

Strategies:

preserving for transit

  1. Plan and coordinate public/civic infrastructure alongside long-term strategic planning for transit and transportation.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning icon
  2. Where public/civic infrastructure elements correspond with planned long-term transit networks, they should be designed to accommodate those future investments from the outset by:
    • preserving space on or below bridges or underpasses for transit vehicles and related uses such as carpools;
    • providing sufficient structural overbuild to accommodate the weight of future transit vehicles or related uses; and
    • ensuring that the location and orientation of infrastructure and associated elements preserve opportunities for future transit uses and/or access to transit facilities.Site Planning icon
  3. In planning for utility corridors and associated easements, consider the potential to accommodate future transit corridors by:
    • preserving space within the easement for future transit uses; and
    • locating elements such as hydro towers, maintenance facilities and systems facilities so that they optimize the potential for future uses within the easement. For example, situating hydro pylons where they won’t inhibit future transit facilities beneath them.Regional Planning iconMunicipal Planning iconSite Planning icon

A new underpass in Toronto includes accommodation for both pedestrians and cyclists and has been designed to accommodate the introduction of a streetcar line over the long term.

A new underpass in Toronto includes accommodation for both pedestrians and cyclists and has been designed to accommodate the introduction of a streetcar line over the long term.

The location and orientation of infrastructure and related elements can impact the design of transit facilities at a later date. Where necessary, proximity to major infrastructure should be discussed with the appropriate jurisdictional authority.

The location and orientation of infrastructure and related elements can impact the design of transit facilities at a later date. Where necessary, proximity to major infrastructure should be discussed with the appropriate jurisdictional authority.

Recommended Resources

Multi-Modal Bridges (Transport Canada)

pedestrians and cyclists

  1. Where possible, design public/civic infrastructure to integrate opportunities for walking and cycling. This includes the incorporation of elements such as sidewalks and dedicated bike lanes on bridges or the provision of multi-use trails along utility easements and corridors.Site Planning icon
  2. The reconstruction of bridges and other public/civic infrastructure should be viewed as an opportunity to enhance conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.Site Planning icon

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