Maximize Existing Investments and Effectively Link New Infrastructure By Focusing Development Around Transit

Transportation investments have the potential to catalyze community revitalization and private investment. Transit-oriented development (or TOD) is a strategy that focuses compact, walkable development around existing and new transit facilities, capturing the value of this transportation infrastructure and spurring new investment. TOD means different things to different communities, and there is no one-size-fits-all application. Upgrading streets to include safe pedestrian, bicycle and transit access can also increase the potential for new development, and these types of upgrades are supporting vibrant community life.

Innovative approaches to development also have the potential to maximize the benefit of the region’s transportation infrastructure. These innovative approaches can include: managing on- and off-street parking to strike a balance between parking demand and the use of valuable real estate and linking development capacity to the provision of parks, street improvements or other community benefits. Financing mechanisms, such as Tax Increment Financing, can capture the increased land value of transit access for reinvestment into the surrounding community. Many new transportation and development projects face budget constraints, making it all the more important to maximize the public benefit that these resources provide.


National Best Practice Examples

Fairmount/Indigo Line Collaborative, Boston, MA
A collaborative planning team formed by four community development corporations created a vision for new urban villages on vacant, underutilized and brownfield sites along Boston’s most underused commuter rail line—a 10-mile transportation corridor stretching from downtown through close-in neighborhoods. The neighborhoods affected by the plan have some of the city’s highest poverty levels, the greatest dependence on public transportation, and the worst access to transit service. The plan calls for an enhanced rail line with new stations that will allow for higher-density affordable housing, better access to jobs, and for a greenway linking parks and recreational destinations. The Metropolitan Boston Transit Authority committed in 2006 to funding enhancements at existing stations and to construct several infill stations in the corridor.

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Fairmount/Indigo Line Collaborative, Boston, MA
The Fairmount/Indigo Line Collaborative advocates for improved transit service and community development along the corridor.

TOD Strategic Plan, Denver, CO
Denver’s TOD Strategic Plan is a comprehensive document that directs transit-oriented development planning and implementation. It lays out the process for coordinating the efforts of the various agencies involved to ensure cooperation. The Strategic Plan defines TOD for the region, drafts citywide policy recommendations and specific station area recommendations. This level of detail is meant to ensure that the community’s vision is carried out efficiently and accurately. In late 2006, the City of Denver initiated seven detailed station area planning processes simultaneously.

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TOD Strategic Plan, Denver, CO
The TOD Strategic Plan identified needs and priorities for development around Denver’s growing transit system.



Additional Resources and Examples

Link Source What it is
Transit-Oriented Development Denver Regional Council of Governments A general resource for implementing TOD.
Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Program Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority Explanation of VTA’s strategies for integrating land use and transportation in collaboration with local jurisdictions.
Using Value Capture to Finance Infrastructure and Encourage Compact Development Rick Rybeck A report outlining the technique of value capture and its value in creating affordable development around transit.
The City of Evanston's Transit-Oriented Redevelopment and the Hudson Bergen Light Rail Transit System Reconnecting America Case studies of three cities that have turned their cities around by expanding their transit options and developing TOD around stations.
Impacts of Rail Transit on Property Values American Public Transportation Association (APTA) A summary of recent studies that examine the impact of rail transit on property values.
Neighborhood Attributes and Commuting Behavior: Transit Choice Metrans Project A report on the impact of neighborhood type- including density- on transit use.
Transit Technologies Worksheet Reconnecting America Specs for different transit options in a format that is useful for comparing the benefits and drawbacks of each type.
Light Rail Transit Impacts in Portland: The First Ten Years Kenneth J. Dueker and Martha J. Bianco Examines the ways in which light-rail transit (LRT) in the Portland region has affected auto ownership, mode share, density, and property values.
Developing Around Transit: Strategies and Solutions that Work Urban Land Institute (available via A variety of authors offer strategies for getting over the hurdles to effective TOD.
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) TOD Guidelines Bay Area Rapid Transit Recommendations for development around light rail stations, with examples.
A Guide to Station Area Developments Commonwealth of Massachusetts Documents TOD in Massachusetts, highlighting a range of examples.
Transit-Oriented Development Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission Information on current TOD initiatives in Delaware.
Transit Villages in the 21st Century Michael Bernick and Robert Cervero (available via A book illustrating effective design of transit villages and the transit that supports them.
California Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Searchable Database State of California Documentation on TOD around California, browseable by station area or project.
The New Transit Town: Best Practices in Transit-Oriented Development Reconnecting America (available via An evaluation of the real-world factors that determine the success of TOD projects.
Parking Strategies US Environmental Protection Agency Describes the significance of parking policies and their impact on communities.


Local/Regional Examples

The Washington region already has good examples of investments that take advantage of existing infrastructure in the Washington region database. These projects and others contribute to transportation choices and great places in the Washington region.