The arrival of commuter rail later this year is one of they key components of Provo’s downtown revitalization. However, what goes in around the train station will likely be as significant as the train itself.
Last month, Slate’s Matthew Yglesias wrote that the land near train stations often increases in value until it’s worth developing into a mix of buildings and parking (as opposed to only parking).
The general point is that rail transportation is expensive to build. But it often can drastically increase the value of station-proximate land. It’s important to use that land for its most valuable purpose. That will likely include parking in most cases, but reserving the land exclusively for parking is the real sell-out to private interests.
Yglesias was responding to the idea that some people apparenty think parking is a right, and that losing parking is somehow unfair. He was also responding to the misconception that parking needs to be immediately proximate to drivers’ destinations. Both of those ideas come up in Provo, especially with regard to downtown. However, as Yglesias indicates, neither is particularly compelling when looked at rationally.
The lesson, then, is first that the area around Provo’s train station is about to become ripe for non-parking development and, second, that parking generally is often a waste of resources and space.