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Researchers grade California rail stations

A group of researchers has rated California transit-rail stations according to how well they connect riders to amenities and create pedestrian-friendly communities.

San Francisco Municipal Railway's (Muni) Market and Church Street station earned a "B" grade, which marked the highest ranking given by the group, while San Diego Metropolitan Transit System's (MTS) Gillespie Field Station was given an "F," due to its lack of ridership and access to amenities and services.

The group comprised researchers from the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE) at University of California-Berkley. They prepared their findings in a study titled "Grading California's Rail Transit Station Areas," which was issued by the San Francisco-based nonprofit group Next 10.

To determine the rankings, CLEE researchers analyzed 489 neighborhoods within a half-mile of stations belonging to six California transit-rail systems. Of these systems evaluated, Muni received the highest average station area grade of B, followed by Bay Area Rapid Transit, which earned a B-. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Sacramento Regional Transit both received Cs, and the San Diego MTS was given a C-.

"Top-performing transit stations tend to be located in the center of downtown-like environments and thriving, rail-oriented neighborhoods. These stations provide access to housing, shopping, places of work and other amenities," said Next 10 founder F. Noel Perry in a news release. "Most low-performing stations are on the outer edges of rail systems, often situated in low-density, industrial or auto-oriented neighborhoods."

The report divides station areas into three types: residential, employment, and mixed. Researchers then calculated grades based on 11 key indicators including walkability, ridership levels, existing land-use and permitting policies, affordability and transit quality, Next 10 staffers said.

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