A tale of two cities…and station access


Drone footage of the Union City BART Station on February 26, 2018. (Screenshot from The Mercury News)

A plan to make station improvements that would connect the platforms of three different rail agencies in the Bay Area in Union City may be derailed by a proposal to divert funds to build a road. Under the proposal, $75 million in funds approved by voters and earmarked for station improvements would be diverted to build three miles of road segments estimated to cost $320 million. Local officials believe that building a new road and widening connected segments would allow people to get to the station more easily by “alleviating congestion” expected from future housing and office developments. On Tuesday, the City Council voted unanimously to move forward with plans and design for the road.

This road segment has been on the drawing board since 1958 but is only now being seriously considered while city officials “contemplate declaring a fiscal emergency and asking residents to raise their taxes to cover basic city services.” (The Mercury News) Before spending $320 million on a new road, in part with money approved for transit, it might behoove planners to do an access study to look at more active transportation options.

Contrast the discussion in Union City with a proposed 1,000+ unit apartment complex next to the West Oakland BART Station with provisions for just eight off-street parking spaces. The development would provide housing with a seven minute ride to downtown San Francisco and a three minute ride to downtown Oakland. It would also include 22, 10-bedroom units and 922 units with two to four bedrooms, a bit different from the usual mix of studios and one bedrooms. It will be interesting to see how the developers plan for other transportation options considering the lack of parking.

TODresources.org includes numerous documents about station access including the BART Station Access Policy Update (which seems relevant to Union City) in addition to LA Metro’s innovative First/Last Mile Strategic Plan. Find other access documents helpful for project work in the TOD resource library here.

Recent TOD news

Here are a few things that have been happening this week with TOD projects across the country.

  • Historic preservation clashes with redevelopment demand along Market-Frankford Line (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • CA transit zoning bill amended with tenant protections (Hoodline)
  • Charlotte’s unified development ordinance includes new TOD Districts (City of Charlotte)
  • Frequent transit nodes and urban village designation expansion in Seattle (The Urbanist)