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TOD 204: Planning for TOD at the Regional Scale

Why This Book?

The importance of Planning for TOD at the regional Scale

Transit-Oriented Development, or TOD, is typically understood to be a mix of housing, retail and/or commercial development and amenities — referred to as “mixed-use development” — in a walkable neighborhood with high-quality public transportation. To learn the basics of TOD, see the first book in this series, TOD 101: Why TOD and Why Now?

Building successful TOD requires thinking beyond the individual station and understanding the role each neighborhood and station area plays in the regional network of transit-oriented places. It also requires an understanding of the real estate market, major employment centers, and travel patterns in the region. Regional planning for successful TOD projects is really about the coordination of existing plans for growth, transit, housing and jobs, as well as programs and policies at all levels of government.

Coordinating all these TOD actors is difficult, especially when a decision that works well for one conflicts with the goals of another. Local governments often have competing priorities for TOD projects along transit corridors, and conflicts can arise over decisions about who should lead the TOD planning process and who has authority over implementation. Land use authority, for example, typically resides with local governments, but also plays an important role in determining whether a region will increase transit ridership, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve job access.

Regional TOD planning can help identify common goals and facilitate coordination among regional agencies, transit agencies, cities, counties, towns, community residents and other TOD stakeholders. Coordination and collaboration will enhance the likelihood of successful TOD by allowing stakeholders to achieve multiple goals, including high transit ridership, improved connections between people and jobs, and flourishing transit-oriented neighborhoods.

Successful TOD provides these benefits:

  • reduced automobile trips and greenhouse gas emissions;
  • increased transit ridership and transit agency revenues;
  • the potential to increase land and property values near transit;
  • improved access to jobs for household of all incomes;
  • reduced infrastructure costs for cities and counties, compared to what is required to support sprawling growth;
  • reduced transportation costs for residents;
  • improved public health due to increased walking and biking;
  • creation of a sense of community and place.