Baltimore's Downtown Partnership is featuring innovation in transit-centered building development and improvements to the city's actual public transportation systems as critical factors for the city center's success. The 2011 Downtown Baltimore Strategic Plan includes Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) district plans for the area surrounding Lexington Market, and prioritizes the elimination of surface-level parking lots.
"Surface parking lots are huge impediments to Downtown progress," says Downtown Partership head Kirby Fowler. "They are unattractive, blank spaces, and they eat up areas that could be thriving open spaces or key development areas. We propose that surface parking be discouraged through the possible imposition of fees that would be refunded to the property owners once the site is developed."
Technological advances that ease access to public transportation, like the Charm City Circulator's NextBus web feature, could ease the transition to mass transit for many who would otherwise use existing surface-level parking lots. In Boston, Circulator operators Veolia Transportation have rolled out open-source tracking data for buses and trains that allow software developers to deliver accurate information to transit riders. Veolia already uses its Taxi Magic website and Apple device apps to allow cab customers in Baltimore to connect directly to Yellow Cab dispatchers.
"The greatest Downtowns in the country have great public transportation," Fowler continues. "A Transit-Oriented Development District would help us work towards a Downtown that's even more interconnected, populated, and dynamic."
Writer: Sam Hopkins
Source: Kirby Fowler, Downtown Partnership of Baltimore president