Transit Oriented Development and Role of Tehran Subway System

Document Type : Research Article



Transit Oriented Development is one of the urban development approaches which is based on public transportation. This approach encompasses several key objectives of new urbanism and smart growth. It has been often been described as an efficient approach which envisages the environmental perspective on development and is in line with principles to promote social equity, sustainable development and sustainable transit principles. This type of development is sometimes called supportive transit development. The three main principles of transit-oriented development includes mixed land use with higher densities, functional and physical connection to transportation systems and finally designing pedestrian friendly and human scale in the designing of buildings and routes.
This approach is applied in many cities around the world. Transit Oriented Development which is based on the subway system is a good example of such approach. Despite all the positive characteristics of transit oriented development, Iran’s capital Tehran does not benefit from its advantages in public transportation services such as the subway and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). Therefore, neighborhoods adjacent to subway stations in Tehran lack the attractions in terms of social welfare facilities as is typical with other countries. Besides, they have been designed in a way that human needs as envisaged in sustainable development plans are taken for granted. In return, subway stations are blamed by nearby residents for deteriorating traffic congestion as well as creating certain social woes.
The aim of this article is to review the concept, characteristics and benefits of transit-oriented development and also to study cases and projects based on such an approach. In addition, the effects of Tehran's subway stations on adjacent neighborhoods from the viewpoint of a transit oriented development approach are examined. The study uses a survey technique and correlation study on two major subway stations namely Sharif University Station and Iran University of Science and Technology Station. Also, a questionnaire was developed for the purpose of this research. The questionnaire was particularly designed by considering the theoretical framework and the typical patterns of the transit oriented development. It included 160 questions and was randomly distributed in different districts of Tehran. Considering that areas within the immediate distance of subway stations receive the highest impacts of such facilities, the target research area was set at a radius of 300 meters from the stations.
In order to examine the effects of subway stations on changes within the neighborhods, the following hypothesis was taken into consideration: "The level of satisfaction of residents near subway stations is influenced by the social, traffic and physical factors". In order to examine the research hypotesis, a correlation analysis was used. Considering the type of data, appropriate correlation mechanisms were used including Gamma and Chi Square Tests. The results of these two mechanisms show that the public transit in Tehran lacks the transit oriented characteristics and even to some extent the development is in contradiction with the concept of neighborhood. Furthermore, subway stations lack standard facilities and cannot be used as centers for typical social activities, as is the norm in many other countries. Many of the respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the current facilities in subway stations. They also emphasized that the necessary infrastcuture for turning subway stations into centers with efficient urban facilities for nearby residents is non-existent.