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Residential vs Employment Balance in TOD Areas--Maynard--April 23-2011

Residential vs Employment Balance in TOD Areas--Maynard--April 23-2011

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Published by Terry Maynard
This short paper applies the results of the 2005 WMATA Metrorail ridership survey to the ongoing discussion of jobs/housing balance in Reston's TOD areas.
This short paper applies the results of the 2005 WMATA Metrorail ridership survey to the ongoing discussion of jobs/housing balance in Reston's TOD areas.

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Published by: Terry Maynard on Apr 23, 2011
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April 23, 2011 1
The Residential vs. Employment Balance in TOD Areas:Optimizing for Reduced Congestion and Environmental Damage
Terry Maynard RCA Reston 2020 Committee April 23, 2011Summary  An analysis of WMATA Metrorail ridership data shows that residents within a ½-mileradius of a Metrorail station tend to use Metrorail and not use autos much more thantheir commuting worker counterparts. Higher jobs to residents ratios
and implicitly  jobs:housing ratios
make the situation worse although this may be partially offset by emphasizing office development in the inner quarter-mile of the TOD area. These
 findings are consistent with RCA Reston 2020’s position that the jobs:housing ratio in
n’s TOD areas ought not to exceed 2:1 if we are to
substantially increase Metrorail use and minimize congestion growth and associated environmental damage, and easeneeded investment in road improvements.
The Reston Citizens Association (RCA) Reston 2020 Committee has argued since mid-2010 that theappropriate balance between residents
and employment in Reston’s TOD areas should be one
-to-one.On a jobs:housing ratio basis, that translates roughly into a 2:1 ratio given the assumptions the RestonTask Force and Reston 2020 have been using about space expectations for workers and residents.Some members of the Task Force have argued for a 4:1 jobs:housing ratio goal. The core of the Reston2020 argument for a balance between residents and workers in TOD areas was that we expected thisrelationship would reduce the number of people driving to and from each Reston half-mile radius TODdaily. This, in turn, would help substantially increase Metrorail use and reduce congestion
especiallyduring peak periods
and associated environmental damage, as well as ease the need for roadwayimprovements, all major concerns for Restonians. Our reasoning for this conclusion is that we thoughtthe propensity to use public transit, especially Metrorail, would be roughly equal among those who livedin and those who commuted to work in the TOD area.Metrorail data that has recently come to our attention
albeit now six years old
indicates that ourassumption about the essentially equal propensity for people working and/or living near Metrorailstations to use Metro or other public transit means was wrong. The Washington Metropolitan AreaTransit Authority (MWATA) 2005 Development-Related Ridership Survey
Final Report conducted asurvey of more than 1,000 residents and office workers at 49 locations near Metrorail stations, all buttwo of them outside downtown Washington, DC. The survey has the benefits of being reasonably large,diverse in types and locations of survey sites, and actually reflecting the behavior of people who live orwork in TOD areas. The bottom-line results of that survey, shown in the summary table below, indicatethat residents near Metrorail stations have a much stronger propensity to use public transit
than their working commuter counterparts as reflected in the following chart from thereport.
April 23, 2011 2This summary table from the Metrorail report shows the propensity of office commuters and residentsin the areas around Metrorail stations to use Metrorail, other public transit, or their own automobiles.It specifically measures these propensities for those who live above an underground Metrorail and thosewho live at ¼-mile and ½-mile distances from the Metrorail station.The table makes two key points about the propensity to choose Metrorail or auto transportation:
Residents use Metrorail about 20% more than office commuters on average, no matter theirdistance from the Metro station. At a half-mile from the station, residents use Metrorail threetimes as much as office commuters.
Office commuters choose to drive with much greater frequency than their residentialcounterparts, up to half-again as much at the ½ mile periphery.Because these statistics are a linear regression from a dispersed data set described in the report, thelogical, but tenuous, extension of this finding is that, other factors being equal,
all space within a half-mile of a Metrorail station ought to be residential to maximize Metrorail use, minimize congestiongrowth and environmental damage, and reduce needed road improvement spending.
The general greater propensity of residents than commuting workers to use Metrorail in TOD areas isborne out for the specific case of the
Ballston Station area in the survey’s results for two office and two
residential sites there.
At the two residential sites (both about one-quarter mile from the station), respondents usedMetrorail 48% and 50% of the time while using autos 38% and 40% of the time.
Metrorail Mode Share as a Functionof Distance from the Station (Miles)
Office CommuteResidential
Auto Mode Share as a Function of Distance from the Station (Miles)
Office CommuteResidential
April 23, 2011 3
At the two office sites, the respondents use Metrorail 8% and 17% of the time while choosingautos 79% and 85% of the time. (See Tables C-2 and C-17 in the WMATA report.)Similar results were collected at the Court House station area, although Metrorail ridership was higherand auto use lower there among both residents and commuting workers.By applying the results of the Metrorail study to a simple model can help show how the ratio of residents and jobs across the half-mile range of the WMATA analysis affects Metrorail and auto modechoice. To do this, we have taken a look at three alternative scenarios in which there are a hypothetical1,000 people who either reside or work within a half-mile radius of a Metrorail station:
Jobs Heavy: Jobs are double the number of residents (2:1 population ratio; 667 workers, 333residents).
Balanced: Jobs equal the number of residents (1:1 population ratio, 500 workers, 500residents).
Resident Heavy: Jobs are half the number of residents (1:2 population ratio; 333 workers, 667residents).The basic algebraic formulation for this effort is the following:Y = (0.25*w
*W + 0.75*w
*W + .025*r
*R + 0.75*r
is the percent of residents and workers picking a particular travel mode
is the percent of workers using the mode at the stated distance, and
is the samefor residents
are the number of workers and residents in the scenario.
The constants reflect the proportion of the ½ mile TOD circumference area within theinner and outer rings around the station.The following table shows the results across the range of job:resident ratios.
Workers Residents TotalJobs Heavy
667 333 1,000
500 500 1,000
Resident Heavy
333 667 1,000

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