Putting Schools on the Map. Linking Transit-Oriented Development, Households with Children, and Schools

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

ridership - young people, mode - school bus, place - north america, land use - transit oriented development


transit-oriented development (TOD), sustainable, school, children


Transit-oriented development (TOD) remains a popular strategy to achieve environmentally sustainable infill development and auto use reduction. Typically, TOD in the United States offers retail amenities and housing catering to single individuals, childless couples, and empty nesters. Municipal and regional leaders increasingly hold a vision for managing expected growth that aims to increase equity, support households with children, and create mixed-income communities and that includes TOD as a core strategy. These explicitly equity-focused and family-oriented goals call for a different TOD model than has typically been developed. This new model requires an examination of the ways that TOD might attract households with children concerned with access to high-quality schools, even when schools are outside the domain of traditional transportation and land use public agencies. This paper first reviews the TOD and transportation literature and its attention to households with children and issues of public schools for students from kindergarten to Grade 12. Given the information from the literature, a conceptual framework of 10 core connections between TOD, households with children, and schools is hypothesized. Four exploratory case studies from the San Francisco, California, Bay Area offer insights into the opportunities and tensions that practitioners face in planning and implementing TOD that might attract families. A discussion of the 10 core connections in light of the case study evidence follows. The paper concludes with policy and research recommendations.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.