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Rapid Transit and Commuter Rail Induced Retail Development


Rapid Transit and Commuter Rail Induced Retail Development

By Dr. Maurice Yeates and Dr. Ken Jones

Increasing automobile congestion and environmental concerns are reviving interest in heavy-rail rapid transit and rail as alternative transport modes for commuter traffic in large metropolitan areas in North America.  Although these modes cater to passenger flows that are peaked, under certain circumstances attractive opportunities for certain kinds of retail activities can be generated.  They are particularly appropriate in those metropolises that have retained a large labour force in downtown locations - such as the Greater Toronto Area, the study area for this research.  

Retail facilities most associated with rapid transit are convenience stores, coffee shops and lottery ticket sales outlets.  Generally, a minimum daily traffic flow of 6,000 persons is required to support one store and stations that are major exit points for office complexes have three times as many stores as those that are not.  Retail facilities most associated with commuter rail are coffee kiosks, quick food, dry cleaners and auto repair.  The minimum daily traffic required for one retail facility at a commuter station is 1,100. By far the greatest generation of commuter associated retailing, however, is at the confluence of the rapid transit and commuter rail networks in an interconnected underground mall system that links five rapid transit stations with the commuter rail terminus at Union Station.  Thus, to be advantageous for retailing, these types of public transport facilities must be focused at high-density employment locations which are interconnected in a manner that maximizes pedestrian flow.

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