Boston is, more than anything else, a city of neighborhoods - defined communities with their own distinctive scales and characters. The Boston Redevelopment Authority is undertaking a transit-oriented development initiative to build on and reinforce Boston's existing and emerging neighborhood centers. The goal is to connect all neighborhood centers into a comprehensive transit network and to support that network with appropriate development patterns near these neighborhood centers.

The initiative has a two-pronged approach. First, all neighborhood centers should be connected to an extensive network of public transit, pedestrian and bicycle paths, and all of the cultural and natural resources of the city—and therefore will require an analysis of their transit needs. Second, each neighborhood center should provide a range of spaces and activities that are appropriate to the nature of the neighborhood center and the long term goals of the community—and therefore will need land-use and design policies that support community life.

Through the Boston 400 citywide planning process, the BRA has secured funding to do a study of the city's "neighborhood centers"—places like Upham's Corner, Brighton Center, and Mattapan Square—to see where transit-oriented development might be appropriate.

This project offers a chance to take better advantage of an already extensive network of public transportation through strategic development. Transit-oriented development has been successful in other parts of the country in conjunction with the construction of new transit lines and stations. But, as far as we know, Boston will be the first older American city to use transit-oriented development principles and strategies to systematically improve the areas around existing transit stations, and determine where additional transit service might foster positive community development.

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