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Transit-Oriented Communities: A Primer On Key Concepts


Creating communities that are more “ transit-oriented” is one of the key goals of most land use and transportation plans in Metro Vancouver. Transit-oriented communities are not only more livable, sustainable, resilient and economically thriving, they also support higher levels of walking, cycling and transit and result in lower levels of automobile use and greenhouse gas emissions.

In response to requests from local government partners, TransLink has prepared this primer to highlight the key attributes of community design that most strongly influence travel behaviour. This is not an official policy document but is rather an effort to share current thinking on how community design can best support walking, cycling, and transit.

What are Transit-Oriented Communities?

Transit-Oriented Communities (TOCs) are places that, by their design, allow people to drive less and walk, cycle, and take transit more. In practice, this means concentrating higher-density, mixed-use, human scale development around frequent transit stops and stations, in combination with mobility management measures to discourage unnecessary driving. Ultimately, transit-oriented communities are really walking- and cycling-friendly communities that are focused around frequent transit.

A Regional Tradition of Transit-Oriented Planning

Metro Vancouver has long supported a transit-oriented land use approach, with the 1975 Livable Region Plan envisioning a transit-oriented regional community of compact urban centres linked by frequent transit corridors. This approach was reaffirmed in the 1996 Livable Region Strategic Plan and continues to be a key direction in the new Regional Grow th Strategy adopted in 2011.

Translink Terminology

Transit-Oriented Communities (TOC):

Places (regions, municipalities, neighbourhoods) that facilitate a decreased reliance on the automobile by:

  • focusing higher-density, mixed-use, pedestrian- friendly development within walking distance of frequent transit; and
  • implementing mobility management measures to discourage unnecessary driving.

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD):

Specific buildings or development projects that are fundamentally shaped by their close proximity to frequent transit.