Originally Posted by bunt_q
We do provide a base minimum of transit service appropriate for density levels in our metropolitan areas. Unfortunately, the density levels in many U.S. suburbs justify a base minimum level of transit service of zero. There is no common sense way to provide transit at extremely low densities. And being the eminently rational people that we are, we respond by providing none.
When land use patterns change, transit will follow, and not before. Land use changes spurred by transit are indirect. Land use changes spurred by zoning are absolute. The trends being touted here in Denver only work if the local government is supportive with transit friendly zoning, which thankfully, most local governments have been. Because zoning is absolute. It is perfectly possible to build a transportation facility with zero impact on land use - just don't allow it. In a laudable example, we managed to build the Northwest Parkway (highway) with almost no sprawl side-effects through supportive land use policies. Unfortunately, some municipalities take the same approach with transit... or, more often, they have subtle flaws in the zoning - not enough density, too much parking, too little supporting public infrastructure, to make the TOD financially viable. But we're learning.
When open land is available and/or property ownership (or control of property) is not fractionalized, build out follows transit lines (roads too).
When ownership is in small pieces and municipal governments each cover small portions of developed area, political accommodation becomes more important than effective, efficient design.
Within individual jurisdictions, particularly within juristictions with an affluent population, governments can work to create low impact public highways as well as nice rail station interfaces. Does this tend to be the rule? No.
The issue is not "learning", as, most of the answers to good planning, transportation- or otherwise, have been there for many years. Rather, the answer is that more of the private and government elite need to be a little less arrogant, and a bit more observant about the best that the rest of the world has to offer.
Sometimes, I suppose, generations of time must pass before the ruling elite(defined as the sum of those with money, and/or political will) learns what architects, planners, engineers, artists, beatniks, bohemians, radicals, etc. have been trying to tell them for decades.
I am reminded of the work adage about not telling the "boss" how to do anything; rather, present the info in such a manner that the "boss" thinks what you are selling is his idea.
The irony, of course, is that in the last few hundred years the pace of population change numbers, demographics, resource consumption patterns, housing demands, and, transportation "requirements" has become progressively more rapid. This increase in change rate means that being 10 or 20 years behind urban pattern change, and, therefore 30 to 40 years behind future scenarios a decade or two out, has far more serious effects on development than earlier in urban history.