Overview: Transit-Oriented Development

Transit-Oriented Development is a municipal development strategy that aims to develop compact, walkable, mixed-use communities around public transportation nodes such as rail stations and major bus lines.  While “TOD” is a relatively new term, organizing development around transit hubs is a very old concept and was the norm in U.S. cities before World War II.  Today, the concept has become increasingly popular as municipalities struggle to reduce traffic congestion and pollution, and encourage more efficient land use patterns.

History

Arlington County, Virginia was one of the first jurisdictions to fully exploit the potential of TOD, having focused real estate and commercial development in transit station areas since the mass transit system began operating in the 1970s. Located across the Potomac River from Washington, DC, over 50 percent of the county’s tax base is now concentrated in transit corridors.

Transit-Oriented Development plays a critical role in building community wealth for several key reasons:Transit-Oriented Development plays a critical role in building community wealth for several key reasons:

  • Successful projects can significantly boost the value of real estate around transit centers. As such, municipalities that maintain ownership of such real estate have the potential to earn millions of dollars in direct lease revenues.
  • Similarly, the development of vibrant neighborhoods with residential and commercial components can expand a locality’s tax base, enabling municipalities to generate significant revenue without raising taxes.
  • By increasing transit ridership, TOD also boosts fare revenues, which again brings additional income into localities and transit systems. By increasing transit ridership, TOD also boosts fare revenues, which again brings additional income into localities and transit systems.
  • People living in communities centered around viable transportation options have better access to centers of employment and are less reliant on driving. As a result, people walk more which has both personal health and environmental benefits.People living in communities centered around viable transportation options have better access to centers of employment and are less reliant on driving. As a result, people walk more which has both personal health and environmental benefits.
  • TOD concentrates economic development in specific corridors, thereby reducing sprawl and increasing the efficiency of public service delivery.

Community-wealth.org houses an extensive collection of resources focused on Transit-Oriented Development and its role in community wealth building.  Below is a glimpse of the rich array of materials you will find as you explore our site:

Our Support Organizations section features major organizations working to promote transit-oriented development.   One such group is the Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD), a partnership between Reconnecting American and the Center for Neighborhood Technology.   Aiming to support TOD initiatives across the country, CTOD provides education, conducts research, promotes policy reform, and offers technical assistance.

Key Facts & Figures

(based on Transit-Oriented Development in the States [2012] )

Number of U.S. metropolitan areas building new transit lines, 2012

At least 30

National Association of Realtor survey respondents wanting to live in pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods

70 percent

Individual savings per year using public transit vs. driving

Over $10,000

Annual increase in transportation costs for families in auto-dependent communities (2000-09)

Over $3,900

Annual increase in transportation costs for families in walkable, transit-supportive communities (2000-09)

$1,400

Our Best Practices section showcases exemplary organizations from across the country that are developing, or have developed, successful TOD projects.   One such group is the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).   With over 20 completed TOD projects, WMATA earns more than $6 million a year in lease revenues and credits approximately 10 percent of its total ridership—roughly 90,000 daily riders—to the high-density residential and commercial properties surrounding its Metro stations.

Our Research Resources section highlights web-based resources focused on TOD.   For example, the American Public Transit Association’s Transit Cooperative Research Program’s site features free access to public transportation-focused publications, including hundreds focused on transit-oriented development.

Our Articles and Publications section includes links to a diverse selection of articles, reports, papers, and books focused on TOD.   One such book is Sam Zimbabwe and Alia Anderson’s Planning for TOD at the Regional Scale (2011), which details the significant advantages of planning TOD projects at the regional level and highlights 8 concrete strategies for doing so.

Lastly, our Toolbox features resources designed to help on-the-ground practitioners working in the TOD field.   For instance, CTOD’s Performance-Based Transit-Oriented Development Typology Guidebook details CTOD’s Performance-Based TOD Typology, a user-friendly tool designed to evaluate the performance of transit zones.