“Transit oriented development, or TOD, is generally defined as mixed-use residential and commercial development that is designed to take advantage of public transportation access”. In terms of smart growth, Transit Oriented Development is very important since it allows people to go about their lives without having to rely on a car. One of the popular ways to do this is redeveloping a town, or creating a town, around a train station. It’s a fact that 70% of NJ residents live within 5 miles of a rail station, with over 200 train stations in New Jersey.

New Jersey has multiple examples of successful towns with development around train stations. For example, Collingswood: vastly redeveloping the area coupled with the high speed train station that already existed has given them an economic boom of sorts. Home prices in the area went up due to easy access to Philadelphia via the train station, and brand new condos were even built next to the train station just because it was easy to get access to popular areas for both entertainment and jobs. Another example of a town is Cranford, which has had a rail that went to New York City since the 1800s. This turned the town into a bedroom community, but now they’re using it for growth of the downtown area. They’re creating retail with office space on the upper floors, and as the area got more popular it attracted more small businesses like bakeries and restaurants. People were able to access the area easily thanks to the train station which helped spur the area’s growth to begin with.

These train stations wouldn’t be exclusively for reasons like jobs or just going out. For some people they might be their only real mode of transportation. From Contemporary Urban Planning: “There are people who cannot use private transportation, and society must provide them with some means of personal mobility. Such people include those too young to drive, those too old to drive, those who have some disability that prevents them from driving, and those who cannot afford automobile ownership.” Transit Oriented Development would likely be as good as it can get for these people.

If more and more towns embrace this kind of development, New Jersey would be connected in a way like never before. Companies could start to locate to areas close to train station stops as opposed to outside of a large parking lot. Shopping areas might also start appearing in proximity to these stops if they were to become as popular as proponents of the ideas hope. However, these are things that would only happen if redevelopment around train stations becomes much more prominent than right now.

Sources:

http://www.njfuture.org/issues/transportation/transit-oriented/

http://www.njfuture.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/TOD-Manual-3-11.pdf

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