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Transit-oriented design (TOD) is an urban planning and design strategy that aims to create compact, walkable, mixed-use communities centered around high-quality public transportation systems, such as buses, trains, and light rail. The goal of TOD is to create livable, sustainable, and socially inclusive neighborhoods that provide convenient access to jobs, housing, services, and amenities while reducing reliance on cars and promoting active transportation modes like walking and cycling.
The key features include high-density, mixed-use development, with a mix of residential, commercial, and institutional uses located within easy walking distance of transit stations. The buildings and public spaces in TOD areas are designed to be pedestrian-friendly, with wide sidewalks, bike lanes, and safe crossings. Parking is typically located away from transit stations, and car use is discouraged through a variety of strategies, such as pricing parking to reflect its true cost, or offering transit passes as an incentive to reduce driving.
TOD has been shown to have a number of benefits, including reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved air quality, increased physical activity, reduced traffic congestion and parking demand, and increased economic vitality. Implementing TOD can be challenging, as it often requires changes to zoning and land-use regulations, public investment in transit infrastructure, and collaboration between multiple stakeholders, including developers, transit agencies, and local governments.
- Identify Transit Nodes: The first step in TOD is to identify the locations of transit nodes such as train stations, bus stops, or light rail stations that have the potential to become TOD centers.
- Conduct a Site Analysis: A site analysis is carried out to determine the existing land use patterns, transportation networks, demographics, and physical characteristics of the area around the transit node.
- Develop a Vision: A vision is developed based on the site analysis that outlines the goals and objectives of the TOD, including the types of land uses, population density, and transportation modes that will be integrated into the design.
- Engage Stakeholders: Stakeholder engagement is essential to build consensus around the vision and to ensure that the community’s needs and concerns are addressed.
- Zoning and Land Use Planning: Requires changes to zoning and land-use regulations to allow for high-density, mixed-use development around the transit node.
- Design Guidelines: Design guidelines are developed to ensure that the built environment is consistent with the TOD vision and that buildings and public spaces are pedestrian-friendly, with safe crossings, bike lanes, and other features that promote active transportation modes.
- Transit Infrastructure Planning: Transit infrastructure planning involves identifying the transit investments required to support the TOD, including upgrades to transit stations and the development of new transit lines.
- Financing: Requires financing to cover the costs of infrastructure upgrades and public amenities. Financing sources can include public-private partnerships, tax-increment financing, and federal grants.
- Implementation: Implementation involves the construction of new buildings and public spaces, upgrades to transit infrastructure, and the establishment of new transportation services.
- Monitoring and Evaluation: Monitoring and evaluation are critical to ensure that the TOD is meeting its goals and objectives and that any necessary adjustments are made. This involves tracking performance metrics such as ridership, walkability, and economic activity.
- Reduced Car Dependence: Encourages the use of public transit, walking, and cycling by making it more convenient and accessible. This reduces reliance on cars and helps to reduce traffic congestion, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Improved Public Health: Promotes physical activity by making it easier for people to walk or bike to work, school, or other destinations. This can lead to improved public health outcomes, such as reduced rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
- Increased Economic Vitality: Can stimulate economic activity by creating a mix of residential, commercial, and institutional uses that support a diverse range of businesses and services. This can lead to job creation, increased property values, and improved quality of life for residents.
- Social Equity: Help to address social equity issues by providing affordable housing options and access to job opportunities and services for low-income and underserved communities. It can also help to reduce the cost burden of transportation on households by providing affordable and convenient transit options.
- Environmental Sustainability: Supports environmentally sustainable development by promoting compact, mixed-use development that reduces the need for car travel and preserves open space and natural resources.
- Reduced Infrastructure Costs: Reduce the need for costly infrastructure investments, such as highways and parking facilities, by making more efficient use of existing transportation systems and land.
- Higher Cost of Living: Lead to an increase in property values and rents, which may make it more difficult for lower-income residents to afford housing in the area.
- Potential Gentrification: Gentrification and displacement of existing residents and businesses, particularly in neighborhoods that are undergoing rapid development.
- Limited Flexibility: The planning and design of TOD can be inflexible and may not adapt to changes in transportation patterns or community needs over time.
- Lack of Parking: Reduces the availability of parking in the area to encourage the use of public transit and active transportation modes, which can be challenging for those who rely on cars.
- Resistance to Change: Some residents and businesses may resist the changes associated with TOD, particularly if they are accustomed to car-oriented development patterns.
- Coordination Challenges: Implementing TOD requires coordination among multiple stakeholders, including developers, transit agencies, local governments, and community members. This can be challenging and time-consuming, particularly if there are competing interests and priorities.
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