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Transit-Oriented Development, Jobs and Economic Development

Today the Center for Transit-Oriented Development released a pair of studies exploring the impact of job sprawl and the importance of linking employment centers with transit. 

American cities have experienced significant employment decentralization over the last 60 years as jobs have shifted from urban downtowns to suburban communities. This “employment sprawl” has helped to generate much of the traffic congestion experienced today, swelled infrastructure costs, consumed open space and increased the bite that transportation takes out of household incomes.

In a white paper entitled “Transit-Oriented Development and Employment,” CTOD discusses the relationship between transit and job concentrations and explains the importance of the destination side of the trip for both transit operations and land-use planning in station areas. 

"Future transit planning must focus on making the critical connections between home and work trips," said Sam Zimbabwe, director of the Center for Transit-Oriented Development. "Without these strong connections, transit will never be able to fulfill its potential to address immediate goals such as accessibility improvements or longer-term goals of stronger regional economies and reduced greenhouse gas emissions at the metropolitan level." 

The report examines Atlanta, Georgia; Phoenix, Arizona; and the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul), Minnesota, to illustrate the patterns of employment concentrations and show how these create opportunities for future transit investments. 

"Transit-oriented development planning has generally been more focused on the origin side of the trip, conceived as dense residential neighborhoods and mixed-use development featuring housing built over retail," explained Dena Belzer, lead author and president of Strategic Economics, a CTOD partner. "However, with employment uses more closely associated to transit ridership than dense residential uses, it is clear job centers must be a key component of the TOD equation." 

The second report, “Transit and Regional Economic Development,” focuses primarily on the location decisions of employers. The report analyzes the degree to which different industry sectors are currently attracted to transit-rich locations and examines the character of employment clusters near transit.

"The outcome of this analysis is a better understanding of the types of industries that may have a greater propensity to be transit-oriented," explained Sujata Srivastava, lead author and principal with Strategic Economics. "This paper is intended to provide a framework for how the coordination of regional economic development, land use and transportation planning efforts can better promote healthy, high-functioning regions.

Both reports were supported with funding from the Federal Transit Administration.

We also have a featured topic page that gathers together many of our resources on TOD and Employment