Direct impacts of subway construction and operation are limited by the nearly complete separation of tunnels, tracks and trains from all aspects and features of the above ground environment. Subway transportation systems can have significant, wide-ranging impacts and influences on the dynamics of the urban areas they serve. Offering relief to traffic congestion and providing new forms of access to work, commercial and residential settings, subways cause little, if any congestion or disruption to urban environments, while attracting and focusing significant foot traffic on the streets and sidewalks surrounding subway station entrances. Well-designed and integrated development in the vicinity of subway facilities can enhance accessibility, as well as, the viability of business and residential properties within walking distance of subway station entrances.
To the extent that substantial numbers of people experience greater, more efficient access to workplace, residential and commercial settings by means of subway systems and services, the respective settings, opportunities and environments are generally enhanced, with lessened energy use, travel times and congestion.
A rather sobering admission, contained in the preliminary environmental review of the proposed Los Angeles subway extension into West Los Angeles, that new stations and subway service would have negligible effect in reducing vehicle trips and traffic congestion in the stations’ service areas, challenges the primary rationale supporting the expenditure of billions of dollars to construct the subway extension. The report went further, to predict that any initial reductions in vehicle trips and traffic congestion resulting from extending the subway system would be overcome by projected development in the area over the next ten to twenty years.