Manifestations of Development Goals in Transit-Oriented Projects

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, infrastructure - station, land use - transit oriented development, land use - smart growth, ridership - growth, policy - congestion, policy - sustainable, place - urban, place - low density, mode - mass transit, mode - pedestrian


Urbanization, Urban development, Transit oriented development, Transit, Traffic free zones, Traffic congestion, Sustainable development, Sustainability, Suburbs, Smart growth, Public transit, Pedestrian trafficways, Pedestrian precinct, Pedestrian facilities, Pedestrian areas, New urbanism, Mixed use development, Mass transit, Local transit, Joint occupancy of buildings, Gridlock (Traffic), Auto free zones


Transit-oriented development (TOD) has become popular across the nation not just as a partial solution for rampant highway traffic congestion but also as a way of life. The emphasis of TOD on creating a close-knit, pedestrian-friendly, distinctively designed form of urban and suburban development appears able to elicit support even where transit service is minimal or nonexistent. TOD is solidly ensconced as a significant component of smart growth, sustainable development, and new urbanism. Public officials often view the concept as a valuable building block for developing accessible and attractive communities, and transit agencies value its generation of increased ridership. The benefits of TOD for transit operators and broader transportation policies are fairly well established. Less well appreciated is that urban sites most suitable for TODs are transit friendly but often developer unfriendly, since they are often more expensive and more complicated to develop. In contrast, the suburban locations most desired by residents and businesses are developer friendly but transit unfriendly. For them to support transit requires special efforts to increase density, mixed uses, and pedestrian orientation, qualities uncommon and often resisted in the suburbs. A number of projects generally considered among planners and developers to be effective TODs were examined, and their strengths and weaknesses are reviewed from a transit perspective, on the basis of several specific principles. The TOD concept is demonstrated to be alive and well and evolving toward the described ideals.