How Local Governments Can Begin Planning for Transit-Oriented Development

Community Visioning

The greatest challenges to TOD are community resistance and an unsupportive regulatory framework.  While adjacent property owners may fear that TOD will take away from the character of a neighborhood or cause traffic congestion, TOD has been shown to be pedestrian and bicycle friendly, support local businesses, boost property values, and combat sprawl. Community members and stakeholders should be engaged in planning activities that form the basis of future land uses around existing and future transit locations, identify future transit station/hub location(s), and assess multimodal transportation needs related to such facilities.

Review Regulatory Framework

To support TOD, local governments should review their regulatory framework.  Comprehensive plans and master plans should incorporate the need for TOD and path for policy implementation. In addition, zoning and land development ordinances need to encourage and support transit-supportive development patterns and redevelopment strategies.

Zoning ordinances and land development codes should not be solely designed for automobile-oriented, single-purpose, suburban-scale development. The physical requirements of zoning ordinances may need to be amended to support the development density necessary for TOD.  Maximums on floor area ratio (building floor area divided by lot area), height limitations, minimum front setback of buildings, landscaping requirements, lot coverage maximums, and minimum parking requirements should be reviewed, and possibly amended, to provide transit-supportive uses and more intensive development patterns.

Design standards may be developed and adopted by a local government to provide visual guidelines regarding building and facility design, site planning, and transportation enhancements. Favorable design features/elements of TOD-related improvements and transportation facilities should seek to:

  • Increase ridership
  • Improve the customer experience
  • Boost system efficiency
  • Improve the public image of transit
  • Enhance safety and accessibility
  • Promote community livability

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