Saturday, December 9, 2006

SamTrans unveils condo project

San Carlos CA - Reading yet another story of a yet another transit system being involved in land development, I must ask what gives with this new trend?

SamTrans has recently presented plans to develop 8 acres of land it owns in San Carlos. Included in the plans are adobe style condos with slate roofs and retail space.

Public transit agencies should not be in the business of land development. Their purpose is to move people from point A to point B. They should not be in the real estate business. SamTrans is not the first to do this and I'm sure it won't be the last to do it but the news story just stood out for me.

Public transit systems all across North America are venturing into real estate development. These same public transit systems, including SamTrans, are also screaming for more money to run the transit system.

This is a huge part of what is wrong with public transit today. Items such as designing housing and retail developments just further take the focus off of what transit systems should be doing which is to provide convenient, reliable and reasonably priced transit service.

"But this is a Transit Oriented Development" I hear you say. It doesn't matter what it is, public transit systems have no business being a land developer. Yes, public transit systems should be considered and the transit system consulted for advice as to how to incorporate transit into the plans for new community developments but the transit system should not be the one designing and developing the project.

This is yet another way that public transit has lost its way in providing transportation services to the public. It would be one thing if they were designing a rail station, bus terminal or something directly related to the service the system itself provides. What SamTrans is doing, TOD or not, is not directly related to the service.

By losing focus on what public transit means and branching out into real estate development, SamTrans earns itself a Lance.

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