I recently found an entry in the Temple University Philadelphia Neighborhoods blog on Transit-Oriented Development (TOD), that just happened to be about my neighborhood near Fox Chase train station. Ever since I lived in Tokyo, where this concept works well, I’ve been hoping for more of this in Philadelphia and its suburbs.
I walk to and from the Fox Chase train station every week day and I often wish that there could be even more development around it, especially shops open past 5:00 and on weekends. I don’t generally shop at the businesses around the train station, and I rarely see any of my fellow commuters stopping as they walk home. One major difference between Fox Chase and a suburb in Tokyo is that many of the commuters at Fox Chase park at the train station and drive home, so there isn’t a huge need for shops located right at the station. In Tokyo, most commuters walk or bike home from their stations, so it is much more convenient to do their grocery and other shopping right around the station on a daily basis.
On the weekend in Tokyo, these stations are centers that people would take trains to and shop at or eat at local restaurants. On weekends, it is rare that I would walk to Fox Chase station to have fun. If I need something I may walk to Rite Aid or WaWa, but the local coffee shop isn’t open on weekends and the shops that are there are mainly for necessities.
I don’t believe that the mindset of Americans is to walk or take a train to a center of business, unless they already live in the city or want to take a train down town from the suburbs.
I found a similar article on TOD in Tokyo. Mentioned here is the “Transportation Demand Management (TDM)” system, where “relatively high gas prices, expensive and limited parking, and narrow roads” make “mass transit the only viable option for commuting.” The article also mentions that this is a “lifestyle” that all Tokyo-ites have embraced and made to work as a collective group of citizens. It shapes their family lives and social lives and I believe that this lifestyle is a healthy one that more neighborhoods in the U.S. need to adopt.
Fox Chase Train station businesses
Kichijoji train station, Tokyo