Best planning and implementation toolbox

Transit-Oriented Development:

Purpose of Tool:
Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is an increasingly popular tool that is focused on the creation of more livable communities that are centered around transit. TOD includes the integration of land use and transit through the creation of compact, walkable, mixed-use communities within walking distance of a transit stop or station. TOD can be an effective tool in, reducing congestion, increasing transit use, and expanding housing choices.

Benefits of Using Tool:
TOD benefits the community in the following ways:
  • Improved quality of life
  • Improved mobility
  • Increased transit ridership
  • Reduced traffic congestion
  • Reduced household spending on transportation
  • Healthier lifestyle with more walking
  • Higher property values
  • Increased compact development

    Steps Involved to Use Tool:
    Elements of TODs include:
  • A vision for the proposed development
  • Community support
  • Supportive zoning and land uses
  • Identification of priority transit stations
  • Station area plans
  • Market responsive development plans
  • Coordination between public and private entities
  • Financing and incentive strategies
  • Interim development steps

    Special Requirements to Use Tool:
    Implementation of a TOD requires a supportive local real estate market and willing and interested developers. The proper land use mixes and marketing strategies are also critical, and it is important that the developer be included in the station area planning. This joint participation between the local government and the developer or private sector is important in reducing the risk associated with the project. The local government and the transit provider should encourage and include land use policies and design guidelines that facilitate TODs.

    Specials Resources Needed to Use Tool:
    TODs and other similar mixed-use developments provide financing challenges, and creative solutions are often needed for the project to be implemented. There are a number of strategies available to encourage TODs, which include federal grants, tax increment financing (TIF), public-private partnerships, and joint public-private ventures. Local government assistance and incentives can be in the form of density bonuses, key public infrastructure, and reduced approval timelines.

    Communities / Agencies that Have Used Tool:
  • Portland, Oregon Metro Region: Metro’s TOD program has contributed to many of the region’s successful TODs and has acquired key opportunity sites at transit stations.  Contact:

    Metro, Planning and Conservation
    600 NE Grand Aveve
    Portland, OR 97232

  • Austin, Texas: The City of Austin is committed to the promotion of development around existing transit and future transit lines. The City’s approach is to create transit supportive communities by optimizing the use of land around high quality transit.  Contact:

    City of Austin
    Neighborhood Planning and Zoning Department
    505 Barton Springs Road, 5th Floor
    Austin, TX 78704

  • This example of transit-oriented development was planned by Moule and Polyzoides. Del Mar Station and surrounding transit-oriented development located on the southern edge of Pasadena’s Old Town. Source: Moule & Polyzoides
    San Francisco Bay Area Transit (BART): BART has developed TOD guidelines and has also identified three new station areas as part of their Strategic Plan. In planning station areas, BART collaborates with neighboring residents, businesses and institutions, city and county agencies, local bus services, and members of the community.  Contact:

    BART Planning Department
    P.O. Box 12688
    Oakland, CA 94604

    Metrics to Use to Monitor Tool Effectiveness:
    The greatest benefit of TODs is increased ridership. A study in California found that among those who drove to work when they lived away from transit, 52.3% switched to transit commuting upon moving to within a ½ mile walking distance of a rail station. TOD also increases the share of rail trips that are accessed by walk-and-ride and bike-and-ride uses, which can reduce the need for parking. This increased transit usage can be attributed to the surrounding mixed-use development around the transit stations.

    In addition, most research suggests that being near transit enhances property values and rents. In Hillsboro, Oregon, prices for units near the local transit station were 20% to 30% above the area’s average. Near a light-rail station in Dallas, office and retail space was 40% above market rates and even higher premiums have been recorded in Washington Metrorail stations in Arlington, Virginia and Bethesda, Maryland.

    List of Resources to Obtain Additional Info:
  • Transit-Oriented Development in the United States: Experiences, Challenges, and Prospects. 2004. Transportation Research Board.
  • “Transit Oriented Development: Lessons Learned, Results of FTA’s Listening Sessions with Developers, Bankers, and Transit Agencies on Transit Oriented Development”. 2005. U.S. Department of Transportation. Federal Transit Administration.
  • “Transit Oriented Development Best Practices Handbook”. 2004. City of Calgary Land Use Planning and Policy.
  • “Transit Oriented Development Guidebook”. 2006. City of Austin Neighborhood Planning and Zoning Department.
  • “BART Transit Oriented Development Guidelines”. 2003. San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District.