While searching through the Post-Dispatch’s Building Blocks blog, I ran across an old but interesting post about job sprawl, a term I’d never heard until today. According to Tim, a study from the Brookings Institute looked at job density and ranked cities in order of highest to lowest. St. Louis, as you might imagine, is pretty close to the bottom of the list, i.e. has less job concentration and more job sprawl.
We could rehash all of the old arguments about sprawl here, but what I actually found interesting about the article is how it highlights another reason why planning public transit in St. Louis is a real challenge. Metro’s official mission is “Regional economic development through excellence in transportation,” which is one reason that Metro is very conscious of serving job centers. That’s hard enough in any city, but what happens if, as they say, the center does not hold? As job centers deteriorate and companies locate willy-nilly across the region, it becomes more and more difficult to identify (and thereby structure transit around) job “centers.” You can see, by looking at the job sprawl phenomenon, that planning for transit needs to be just one part of a regional plan that should address not just roads and buses and trains, but also serves to coordinate development of job and industry centers.
One final note: I, too, will be interested in seeing the follow-up study on whether the jobs are sprawling because the people are.