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Updated 04/2012

Transit-Oriented Development



Transit systems (including rail or bus service) can provide a convenient transportation option and play a significant role in reducing traffic congestion. Successful transit systems require development patterns and community design that support transit use. Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) focuses on a mix of land-uses, such as residential, office, shopping, personal services, civic uses and entertainment within easy walking distance from a centrally-located transit station (about 1/4 mile, 5-10 minutes). TOD is designed to increase the number of residences and potential transit riders that have convenient access to transit. A variety of moderate and higher density housing options are typically a part of the mix. In addition, a complementary mix of uses, activities, and services located in close proximity makes it easier for TOD residents to commute to work, run errands, socialize and meet basic needs without always needing a car. Transit riders generally begin and end their trips by walking. As a result, a network of safe and convenient walkways that connect transit, residences and other uses, and an attractive pedestrian environment are a hallmark of TOD development. A well-designed bicycle system and facilities can increase the radius that people will travel to access transit. Community spaces, plazas, activities and attractive design are also important components in drawing people to TOD development.

Transit-Oriented Development - Guides, Studies, and Articles



  • Barriers to Solutions and Best Practices: Urban Centers and TOD in Washington (Adobe Acrobat Document), Charles R. Wolfe and Paul Symington, in publication by the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies for The Quality Growth Alliance, Reconnecting America, 09/04/2009 - Washington-oriented report has a particularly useful discussion of the difficulty of financing important public improvements and Washington's "TIF-lite" variations on tax increment financing.
  • Building Support for Transit-Oriented Development: Do Community-Engagement Toolkits Work?, by Erin Machell, Troy Reinhalter, and Karen Chapple, University of California Transportation Center UCTC Research Paper No. 885, July 8, 2011 - San Francisco area study uses focus groups to evaluate how well various community education and outreach strategies worked and makes suggestions about how they might be altered to work better.
  • Choosing Where We Live: Attracting Residents to Transit-Oriented Neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area; A Briefing Book for City Planners and Managers (Adobe Acrobat Document), Metropolitan Transportation Commission (San Francisco, CA region), 05/2010 - Identifies various housing market segments and describes ways to make transit oriented development more attractive in response to each group's specific needs and preferences. It includes specific recommendations for improving walking and cycling conditions, transit service quality, neighborhood livability (quiet, cleanliness and safety), school quality, and accessibility, parking management, and urban housing affordability.
  • Preserving Affordable Housing Near Transit: Case Studies from Atlanta, Denver, Seattle and Washington, D.C., by Enterprise Community Partners, The National Housing Trust and Reconnecting America, 2010 - Very useful report identifies strategies and tools communities can use to preserve affordable housing in transit-rich neighborhoods despite the decline of traditional resources in the down economy.
  • Transit-Oriented Communities: A Blueprint for Washington State (Adobe Acrobat Document), Futurewise, GGLO and Transportation Choices Coalition, 2009 - Particularly good discussion of benefits with supporting evidence and performance measures of success
  • Transit-Oriented Development: Moving from Rhetoric to Reality (Adobe Acrobat Document), by Dena Belzer and Gerald Autler, The Brookings Institution, 2002 - Despite trends that suggest a robust future for TODs, this often cited report shows that the potential for TODs has not been realized with development often being transit-adjacent rather than transit-oriented. In other words, the land use patterns and uses, parking policies, and facilities surrounding the station are not supportive of transit, and the station area is not integrated with the community. The report suggests a performance-oriented definition to define the success of TODs rather than measures such as density in dwellings per acre.
  • Transit Service Overlay Zone Approach: A Concept for Legislative Consideration (Adobe Acrobat Document), Puget Sound Regional Council, 01/31/2012 - This report responds to a request by the 2011 Washington State Legislature to explore and develop an approach that will better link transit and land use planning decision making with a concept for a Transit Service Overlay Zone. Discusses implementation and findings.
  • TOD: A Vehicle for Great Streets and Great Sidewalks, by Neal Payton, Urban Landscape, 08/2009 - Transit Oriented Development (TOD) represents not only an opportunity to put density near transit, but as importantly, to remake the public realm creating a city of great streets and great sidewalks.



Transit Oriented Development and Market Forces

  • Capturing the Value of Transit, prepared for United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration by the Center for Transit-Oriented Development, 11/2008 - Harnessing a portion of the value that transit confers to surrounding properties to fund transit infrastructure or related improvements in station areas
  • An Evaluation of Property Values in New Jersey Transit Villages (Adobe Acrobat Document), Alan M. Voorhees Transit Center, Rutgers Univiersity, 02/2011 - Findings on residential property values suggest an association between designation of transit villages and increased property values. Municipalities that support and invest around transit stations are more likely to see increased property values
  • Light Rails Systems and Property Values (Adobe Acrobat Document), South Sacramento Corridor Phase 2 Project, 12/09/2004 - Matrix summarizes 22 studies on the impact of light rail on nearby property values
  • Rails to Real Estate: Development Patterns Along Three New Transit Lines, Center for Transit-Oriented Development, 03/21/2011 - Studies development activity following construction on transit lines in three cities. All three lines experienced a tremendous amount of new development, especially near downtown and other employment centers. Early area station planning and strategic public investment in pedestrian connections, streetscape and other attractive features can boost TOD development potential and transit use.
  • TOD Economic Analysis and Market Study, Denver, CO, 2008 - Assesses short and long-term demand for new residential, office, and retail space at the regional, system-wide, transit corridor, and station area levels, identifies market opportunities in ten of the station areas, and provides a toolbox of strategies to facilitate development
  • Transit Options: Supporting Communities During Tough Times (Adobe Acrobat Document), by Judy Newman, On Common Ground, Winter, 2011 - Transit Oriented Development holds its own during recessionary times.
  • Transit and Regional Economic Development, Center for Transit-Oriented Development, 05/2011 - Focuses primarily on the location decisions of employers. Analyzes which industrial sectors are more likely to locate in higher density, transit-served and examines the character of employment clusters near transit.
  • Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and Employment - Center for Transit-Oriented Development, 05/2011 - Discusses the relationship between transit and job concentrations and explains the importance of the destination side of the trip (degree of employment) for both transit ridership/operations and land-use planning in station areas

Transit Oriented Development Programs


Other States

  • Atlanta Regional Commission, GA Transit-Oriented Development - Brief description of Atlanta's TOD program and an interesting and detailed document about a transit station charrette process (slow to load)
  • Denver, CO Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Resource Database - See TOD resources by subject for interesting image gallery and video gallery. The resource database contains a wealth of articles and examples retrievable by key word search.
  • Metropolitan Council, MN (Minneapolis-St. Paul region)
    • Corridors of Opportunity - Broad consortium of public, private and non-profit agencies have partnered to promote sustainable, vibrant, and healthy communities, using the region's emerging transitway system as a development focus. Many interesting ideas on this website
    • Twin Cities, MN TOD Projects (Adobe Acrobat Document) - Examples of urban downtown, urban neighborhood, suburban town center and commuter town/joint use park-and-ride TODs
  • Oakland, CA Neighborhood and Area Plans - Oakland has actively promoted TOD development as reflected in the transit station and TOD plans on this page. The Harrison Street plan applies TOD design to a bus corridor. Each plan page includes many background materials including participation process and presentation materials, market assessment and retail enhancement studies. There are also links to other players in the region, such as BART's (rapid transit) Station Area Plans page which includes TOD Guidelines and the BART parking management toolkit. The Metropolitan Transit Commission (San Francisco Bay Area) Transit Oriented Development page features a number of "TODcasts" that provide virtual tours of transit nodes and corridors on that system.
  • Portland, OR Metro Transit-Oriented Development - Another very rich site with links to TOD strategic plan, featured projects, and some very useful toolkits, including community investment toolkit, financial incentives toolkit, innovative design and development codes toolkit, eco-efficient employment toolkit, and tools for designing streets
  • Reno, NV Transit-Oriented Development - Links to Reno's Framework for Corridor Planning document, and a good publications on best practices for TOD. Also links to a TOD extension plan, and TOD parking standards
  • Parks, NV Transit-Oriented Development - Links to Sparks TOD Corridor Master Plan, TOD Residential Design Manual, TOD Mixed Use & Commercial Design Manual and TOD Employment District Design Manual

Transit Oriented Development Plan and Ordinance Examples

Washington Ordinances

  • Redmond Community Development Guide Sec. 20D.240.20-010 - Citywide Transit Supportive Development Standards
  • Seatac
    • SeaTac Municipal Code Ch. 15.36 - Design Standards for High Capacity Transit Facilities
    • Ch. 15.38 - Special Standards for the South 154th Street Station Area
  • Snohomish County
    • Snohomish County Code Ch. 30.34A (Adobe Acrobat Document) - Urban Center Development
    • Ch. 6V (Adobe Acrobat Document) - Land Use Element, General Policy Plan (See especially Policy LU 3.B beginning on p. LU 20)
    • Snohomish County Urban Centers, Assistance Bulletin #96, April 2011
  • Vancouver, WA Zoning Code Ch. 20.550 - Transit Overlay District - Includes incentives

Ordinances - Other States

TOD Plans

Financing Transit Oriented Development

  • Federal Grant Opportunities, compiled by Reconnecting America, last updated 03/12/2012 - A very comprehensive listing with links to federal grant programs available to promote sustainable or smart growth communities, for which TOD projects may be eligible. Includes grants that may be used for community planning, affordable housing finance, technical assistance, research, and capital infrastructure investments.
  • Financing Transit-Oriented Development: Policy Options and Strategies in the San Francisco Bay Area, prepared for Metropolitan Transportation Commission, by the Center for Transit-Oriented Development, 08/2008 - Recommendations for a flexible TOD financing program that responds to different market conditions within the region and provides funding for a range of uses that help achieve regional goals for livability, efficient transportation, and improved environmental quality
  • Metropolitan Council, MN (Minneapolis-St. Paul region)
  • Minneapolis, MN
    • Capital Acquisition Revolving Fund (CARF) - Funds can be can be used to acquire property for redevelopment along commercial and transit corridors and at commercial nodes designated by The Minneapolis Plan. Funds can be used to assemble or aid in assembly of larger sites for development. Eligible costs are acquisition, relocation, demolition, property holding management costs, gap financing for private acquisition and assembly.
    • Great Streets Neighborhood Business District program: Real Estate Development Gap Financing - Gap financing resources for real estate development and development acquisition for transformative commercial development projects located on designated commercial corridors, nodes, and LRT station area.
  • Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants, HUD - The Central Puget Sound region was designated a Preferred Sustainable Community by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as part of its Sustainable Communities Grant Program in 2010. This qualifies prospective eligible applicants in the region to be awarded two bonus points in HUD-specified funding competitions when certified by PSRC. This program supports metropolitan and multijurisdictional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments to accomplish economic competitiveness, social equity, reduced energy use, public health and environmental goals.
  • 2010 Inventory of TOD Programs: A National Review of State, Regional and Local Programs that Fund Transit-Oriented Development Plans and Projects, Reconnecting American, 01/2010 - Inventory of ongoing, institutionalized programs that provide grants, loans, tax credits or direct financial incentives to TOD plans or projects

Need more information?

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