Tyson's Corner, Virginia west of Washington DC is one of America's classic "Edge City" commercial centers. It looks like the result of a global design competition based on the question: "How can we build an urban center of shopping and employment that will attract 100,000 people per day, concentrated in a 5 square mile area, while ensuring that almost all of them come by car?"
You know the look. Lots of big office buildings with big parking structures, served by car-oriented arterial streets that are neither safe nor pleasant to walk on, all focused around a freeway interchange.
Rapid transit is finally coming in 2013 via the WMATA Silver Line. The Silver Line will have four stations in Tyson's Corner, but still many destinations there will be too far to walk. So Tyson's will be an excellent case study of rapid transit's "last mile problem." When retrofitting rapid transit into a car-oriented suburban area, access from the station to the activity destination is often the problem that drives potential riders away.
Fortunately, sharp minds at Greater Greater Washington are on the case. They've done a series of posts looking at the Tyson's problem, including:
- An introduction to the problem.
- A busway solution, in which shuttle buses linking the major buildings would run in exclusive lanes.
- An overview of "Personal Rapid Transit" as it might apply to Tyson's.
- A review of limitations of the "PRT" solution.