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Objectives of Transit Oriented Development  (excerpts from TCRP Report 95)



Portland's recent multi billion dollar streetcar line land development experience, speaks particularly, about a concept known as "Transit Oriented Development", or "TOD". Let's take a quick look at what "TOD-ness" means, as well as the "TOD- Index".  For this, we refer to extracts from: TCRP Report 95, TRB, Chapter 17:

Objectives of Transit Oriented Development  (excerpts from TCRP Report 95, pg 17-2, 17-3):

TOD projects potentially involve a wider variety of stakeholders than other development projects, reflecting in part the more extensive involvement of transit agencies and government funding sources. TOD stakeholders may have a wide range of complementary or competing objectives. Travel-related objectives include:

  1. Increasing the opportunities for residents and workers to meet daily needs by taking transit or walking.
  2. Attracting new riders to public transit, including so-called "choice" riders—riders who could otherwise choose to drive.
  3. Shifting the transit station mode of access to be less reliant on park-and-ride and more oriented to walking.
  4. Reducing the automobile ownership, vehicular traffic, and associated parking requirements that would otherwise be necessary to support a similar level of more traditional development.
  5. Enhancing the environment, through reduced emissions and energy consumption derived from shifts in commuting, other trip making, and station access to environmentally friendly travel modes.

Non-transportation objectives may include providing desirable and affordable housing choices, enhancing sense of community and quality of life, supporting economic development or revital­ization, shifting development from sensitive areas, minimizing infrastructure costs, and reducing sprawl.


Suggested values for essential indicators of a "TOD Index" to describe development project "TOD­ness" (excerpts from pg 17-9, 17-10, see also Tables 17-44 and 17-45):

  1.   Centrally located transit with walking distances no more than 1/4 to 1/2 mile.
  2.   Superior walkability with small blocks and pedestrian traffic management priority.
  3.   Extended hours of highly-reliable transit service at 5- to 15-minute intervals.
  4.   Land use mix to meet daily needs paired with good transit connectivity to other activities.
  5.   Density sufficient to support cost-effective transit, retail services, and infrastructure.
  6.   Managed parking with reduced supply relative to standard development.


Table 17-44 The TOD Index—Essential Indicators:

Centrally Located Transit
Development surrounds the transit station/stop and its primary edge is within 5 minutes or about 0.25 miles of the transit node. Very high quality transit service may support a 10-minute (0.50 mile) walk catchment area. (See"Underlying Traveler Response Factors"—"Land Use and Site Design").

Pedestrian Priority
Block perimeter lengths are walkable (no more than 0.25 miles). By way of example, blocks in downtown Portland are 200 feet on a side (0.15 miles perimeter). Walkways are direct and attractive and buildings are sidewalk-oriented. Moving people rather than cars should be the traffic management priority, with easy street crossings, short signal cycle lengths, right-turn-on-red prohibitions. Lack of street connectivity can lead to much longer walking distances as compared to airline distances. (See "Land Use and Site Design" and case study, "Travel Findings for Individual Portland, Oregon, Area TODs").

High-Quality Transit
Frequent, highly-reliable, and comfortable transit service is provided. Most Transit TODs have very high frequency service during the peak (headways of 5 to 8 minutes or less). Good off-peak service should also be provided to make life without an automobile not only possible, but easy (headways of 15 minutes or less). (See "Underlying Traveler Response Factors"—"Transit Service Characteristics").

Mix of Uses
Development has elements that create a self-sufficient community where daily needs such as grocery shopping can be accomplished without need for a car and preferably by walking. Transit can provide connectivity to some uses not present in the community, but located close at hand to stops along the primary transit line, such as jobs, entertainment, and destination retail. (See "Response by TOD Dimension and Strategy"—"Response to TOD by Land Use Mix").

Supportive Density
Density is sufficient to enable cost-effective transit service and infrastructure provision, create a market supportive of utility retail, and keep local attractions and destinations within short walking distances. High densities are associated with numerous aspects of TOD success. Residential density guidelines for TOD in Portland, Oregon, as an example, range from 12 to 30 units per acre depending on distance from the station and primary transit mode. In the Puget Sound Region, an employment density guideline of 50 jobs per gross acre is suggested to support LRT TOD (Cervero et al., 2004). (See also "Underlying Traveler Response Factors"—"Land Use and Site Design"—"TOD-Supportive Density" and in Chapter 15, "Related Information and Impacts"—"Transit Service Feasibility Guidelines"—"Density Thresholds for Transit Service" including Tables 15-48 and 15-49.)

Parking Management
Parking minimums are avoided, parking maximums are encouraged, and parking costs are charged to users. Parking requirements are reduced from those of standard development to account for and encourage more transit and walking and take advantage of shared parking opportunities. Structured parking, satellite parking, underground parking, and parking with street-facing office or retail uses are among the techniques employed to avoid dead blocks and enable clear walking paths providing visibility of the transit station. (See also "Underlying Traveler Response Factors"—"Parking Supply" and "Parking Pricing and Transit Support").


Table 17-45 The TOD Index—Supportive Indicators:

Street Widths and Driveways
Streets and walks are scaled to pedestrian comfort and convenience. Overly wide streets and intersections, along with parking between sidewalks and buildings with its associated driveways, can discourage pedestrian trips. Some TODs incorporate narrower streets on the basis of the motorized trip reduction benefits of the TOD itself and/or pedestrian preference policy.

Roadway Access
Good highway access is provided, especially for suburban TODs, to yield sufficient customers for vibrant retail. However, when highway access serves the same travel market as a TOD's transit service, particular attention needs to be paid to parking management to ensure transit is competitive.

Housing Types
A diversity of housing types is incorporated to accommodate residents of different income levels. Inclusion of below-market-rate housing can support higher levels of transit ridership. Lower income residents may be more inclined to forgo ownership of automobiles and use the TOD's transit services.

Ground Floor Transparency
Numerous windows on the ground floor of development are incorporated to create inviting, active, friendly, and defensible pedestrian spaces. Windows on the transit node and its approaches should desirably include 24-hour uses. People may be willing to walk longer distances when the trip is safe, convenient, and interesting (Snohomish County, 1999; Hendricks, 2005).

Car Sharing
Occasional access to automobiles is facilitated through organized car sharing. Such an approach can reduce the need for automobile ownership, leading to a variety of TOD benefits: fewer parking spaces required, higher transit mode share, lower vehicle miles of travel, and greater support for local retail. Car sharing ratios of one car per 20 subscribers have been used.

Transit Support
Transit pass programs and other Travel Demand Management (TDM) measures are applied to tip the balance toward transit, walking, and cycling for TOD residents and workers. Free transit passes may be made part of sales packages to better attract those who will use transit, particularly where the commanding travel advantages of typical HRT or CRR in a central-place city/region are lacking, as with certain LRT, BRT, and conventional-bus oriented TODs.

A pertinent reminder at this juncture is to note once again the interactive nature of factors affecting TOD performance (Hendricks, 2006). It follows that the essential and the supportive indicators proposed in the TOD Index describe characteristics that may work together supportively as well as individually. These characteristics will also interact with factors that are not inherently transportation-related. Previously discussed evidence suggests that such interaction may well be synergistic, leading—with carefully balanced selection of characteristics—to enhanced effective­ness for sensitively designed and implemented TOD.





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