So, the government knocks on your door and says, “We’d like to locate a transit station on your property.” Access to transit and workers who use transit is usually a boon to an employer or commercial property owner, if you can navigate the potential pitfalls and risks associated with transit leases, easements, funding, management, operations and security.
What You Need to Know
Transit stations and park-and-ride facilities are usually built for the long term. Once you grant rights in your property and service begins, it is often difficult to reverse course or modify the location and scope of transit operations.
Public funding typically follows the decision to construct transit facilities on private property, but beware of hidden costs and other hidden impacts to your property. For instance, would a transit station displace parking and render the site in noncompliance with local parking requirements? Or will local authorities provide a credit against parking counts based upon the proximity to transit?
What happens if “park and riders” create queuing or access problems as a result of peak hour demand for access to transit? What if the transit operator doesn’t lease parking spaces from the owner? Will the property become a de facto park-and-ride location nonetheless?
Who owns the improvements – the government or the private property owner? Usually the transit operator leases land or acquires an easement and owns any improvements constructed for transit service. Be clear in your agreements about who owns what because it is important when the time comes to remodel, relocate or remove transit facilities.
What about exhaust emissions, particularly in enclosed or semi-enclosed structures? Make sure the transit operator is responsible for air quality.
Depending on the size of the facility, who would secure the location? Transit authorities employ transit police. However, the level of service is often dependent upon the number of riders in a particular location. If your property is on the edge of town, it is unlikely to be secured by transit police.
Would the private property owner have the opportunity to brand transit facilities or provide wayfinding? For instance, some agreements give private owners review and approval of the design and exterior treatment of transit facilities located on private property.
What happens if the facility is damaged or abandoned and who is responsible for maintaining liability insurance? Private owners assume this is the obligation of the transit operator, but that is not always the case.
Of course, any transit opportunity presents more routine legal issues that are negotiated as part of any long-term arrangement, but some of the considerations above will keep you on the right side of a good transit deal.