Turning the Frequent Transit Network into a useful planning tool

The City of New Westminster recently developed a Frequent Transit Network Walkshed map through its Master Transportation planning process.  The map highlights all properties in the city that are within a 5 minute walking distance from a frequent transit bus stop and a 10 minute walking distance from a Skytrain station. The map uses Translinks FTN network which indicates which transit routes provide transit service every 15 minutes or better throughout the day.

From a planning perspective the map is interesting because it can easily illustrate which areas of the city have easy access to transit and which places may be more car dependent. This type of map also provides a very clear visual on where cities should consider growth and equally important where cities should limit growth.

Often cities are presented with higher density projects under the premise of sustainable development. Yet the location of the project may have more to do with its sustainability that the project itself. High density car dependent neighbourhoods are probably the least desirable neighbourhoods from a sustainability perspective.

I am sure other communities have produced similar maps and I would be very interested to find out if any have tied this kind of map to specific planning policies.

Policy ideas:

Parking requirements: Currently the City of New Westminster has a parking bylaw that covers the entire city evenly. If you think about it, it is a bit absurd that the same parking stall requirements apply to a new development adjacent to a Skytrain station as compared to an area of the city that is not well serviced by transit. This map could be an effective tool to apply appropriate parking standards based on proximity to the frequent transit network.

Laneway Housing/Small lots: The City of New Westminster is in the process of reviewing the issue of laneway housing and small lots for single family neighbourhoods. It might make sense to use this map to determine whether uses that increase density in single family neighbourhood should be applied or not.

I think these ideas only scratch the service on how this type of map could be used and I would be very interested to hear further ideas on how this map could be used as a planning tool.

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4 responses to “Turning the Frequent Transit Network into a useful planning tool

  1. Pingback: Helping out Jonathan: How to use a Frequent Transit Network map? « Price Tags·

  2. Jonathan,

    Ask Peter Hall for a copy of my thesis. I think it covers some topics that touch upon issues that you are looking at here.

    Nice to see some of this work.

  3. I think this also has a lot to do with the kinds of secondary/neighbourhood plans that the city does. In New West, the neighbourhoods of Connaught Heights (around 22nd Street Station) and the West End neighbourhood have pretty much the same form and density – but they have very different transit service levels and need different kinds of local plans. West End might be able to focus on little things, like streetscape and park issues, but for Connaught Heights, that process might include big issues like rezoning for towers and a commercial/retail space plan. Which is really the question – do we make those decisions at the municipal level, or the local? Will densification around transit stations only happen in neighbourhoods that don’t give much pushback? There’s some big political questions around how these maps are used, for sure.

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