Sunday, December 24, 2006

Take the bus to the mall? Maybe.

Waterford CT - A news story from the web site brings up a problem that many transit systems face, bringing transit service to shopping centers.

In Waterford, Southeast Area Transit (SEAT) has been attempting to serve the Waterford Commons shopping complex. The problem is the owners of Waterford Commons are concerned over liability issues of having buses running on their property.

SEAT seems confused over what Waterford Commons means by liability issues but from the story, it appears clear that they are referring to having the buses destroy the pavement. A common occurrence at malls and shopping centers which aren't designed for having a steady flow of heavy vehicles.

This brings up an important point. Why aren't shopping centers, malls and other such development built with transit service in mind?

Many zoning regulations don't have any mention of public transit access so developers aren't required to build to accommodate transit so the owners ignore it. While I'm not a fan of adding new regulations to the already over regulated businesses, zoning regulations for large shopping developments should include public transit access.

Many shopping developments across the country do encourage transit service and even go beyond zoning regulations to ensure transit ridership can patronize the businesses within the development. By working with the transit system, the owners of these developments can easily allow access for buses without having problems.

If buses are causing problems with pavement deterioration, the transit system needs to pony up the money to repair it. If there are other issues related to public transit at the development, then action should be taken by both sides to solve the problem before pulling service.

Another part of the problem is that owners of some developments are scared of the long standing belief that public transit will bring the "wrong element" to their property. This is more of the primary driver in the move by some shopping complex owners in keeping transit out. While this belief may have some truth behind it, other evidence suggests that the problems the owners fear would have occurred whether transit was there or not.

Many people are dependent on public transit to shop. Businesses generally don't want to turn away any potential customers so it seems odd that the owners of some of these complexes try to make it harder on the public, as well as the businesses that pay to be in those complexes, by making it difficult for them.

The bottom line is that owners of malls, shopping centers and other large business developments that depend on the public showing up should work with the local transit system to allow transit service to their complexes. By ignoring transit, the owners of these complexes are not only hurting the public but the businesses that lease space at their complexes.

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