“New website gathers data for transit geeks”

By Nicole Dungca | The Boston Globe | May 29, 2015

Transit and urban planning wonks, rejoice: All the data on the neighborhoods around your favorite MBTA stations is now available online.

With a new website called tstation.info, you can dig through the demographics surrounding transit stations, thanks to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy for Northeastern University.

Tim Reardon, the assistant director of data services at the MAPC, said such data helps policymakers and developers make smart decisions.

“Since we don’t have much transit-accessible land, we have to do the best that we can to make the most of it,” he said. “We need to look at zoning and land use control, and really try to maximize the benefits.”

The website focuses on “transit-oriented development.” In other words, they’re focusing on building more housing and commercial developments in places that already have access to public transit. Advocates for such development aim to reduce traffic, keep housing affordable, increase the use of public transportation, and make neighborhoods more livable.

Reardon said the organization designed the website for people who want to plan local activities, developers who want to build homes or open a business, and policymakers who want to know which areas are most in need of development.

With its website, the organization has gathered statistics of all kinds around various stations. A curious rider near the JFK/UMass stop, for example, can see that there are 4,567 households nearby. You can also see that there are 65 acres of surface parking spaces outside of garages near JFK/UMass, compared to an average of 45 acres across the region.

Reardon said this can be important issue for many people: If you’re looking to open a new coffee shop, for example, you’ll want to know who lives nearby, how many people work in the area, and where the closest train, bus or trolley stops are.

Reardon said the website is off to a good start. When it launched on Wednesday, he quickly fielded a call from a city planner from Quincy, who said the site helped him make a proposal for a federal grant, Reardon said.

“There’s going to be a lot of opportunity for city and town officials to use it this way,” he said. “It’ll be a good tool to help educate community members about what’s going on around transit.”



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