Establishing the conditions for effective transit-oriented development in China: the case of Dalian

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - transit oriented development, mode - bus, mode - car, mode - rail, place - asia


Transit-Oriented Development (TOD), Urbanization, Motorization, Public transport, Land use, Dalian


For many years, Dalian has been known as a green city with the modal split most favorable for public transport in all of China. But recent years show a rapid decline in bus and rail ridership. It appears that the consequences of the ’socialist market economy’, such as the unbundling of social life and production activities, the marketization of urban land, and large-scale suburbanization leading many residents to live in locations far away from their jobs and daily services, have promoted the rapid expansion of motorized travel. Consequently, road congestion, air pollution and traffic safety have become major problems in Dalian. Many Chinese metropolises consider the possibility of leading urban growth onto a more sustainable development pathway and turn to the concept of Transit-Oriented Development (TOD). However, TOD could only become a promising solution for sustainable urban transport if thorough examination is conducted at the local and regional levels on how and to what extent conditions for developing effective TOD are fulfilled. Therefore, this article makes an attempt to identify conditions for effective TOD and map them systematically. We will make a distinction between critical and important conditions. After this, the record of Dalian, a coastal city in China with over 6 million people and a good tradition in using public transport which officially embraced the TOD planning method, in meeting those conditions is examined. Conclusions are drawn as to where Dalian’s strengths and weaknesses lie and what actions the Dalian government has taken with regard to each of these conditions. Finally, to transfer the TOD lessons of Dalian to other Chinese cities, we conclude that to make TOD work in China, cities should at least meet all critical conditions such as pedestrian friendly urban design, good governance and high quality transit services. Furthermore, they should at least meet some of the important conditions. Meeting the latter ones can be a gradual process given the fact that most Chinese cities are still in an early stage of their TOD learning curve.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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