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Transit-Oriented Development

This page provides an overview of transit-oriented development, including useful resources and examples of local TOD plans and ordinances.


Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is designed to increase the number of residents, employees, and potential transit riders that have convenient access to transit. A complementary mix of uses, activities, and services located in close proximity to each other allow TOD residents to commute to work, run errands, recreate, and meet basic needs without needing a car. A variety of moderate and higher density housing options located within easy walking distance from a centrally-located transit station or transit corridor (about 1/4 mile, 10 minutes) are typically a part of the mix. Transit riders generally begin and end their trips by walking. As a result, a network of safe and convenient walkways that connect transit, residences and other uses, and an attractive pedestrian environment are a hallmark of TOD development. A well-designed bicycle system and facilities can increase the radius that people will travel to access transit. Community spaces, plazas, activities and attractive design are also important components in drawing people to TOD development.

RCW 43.21C.420, adopted in 2010, provides authority for certain cities to adopt optional elements and development regulations for subareas that will be developed in mixed use or transit-oriented development subject to preparation of a nonproject environmental impact statement.

Guides, Studies, and Articles




Market Forces

  • Capturing the Value of Transit, prepared for United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration by the Center for Transit-Oriented Development, 11/2008 - Harnessing a portion of the value that transit confers to surrounding properties to fund transit infrastructure or related improvements in station areas
  • An Evaluation of Property Values in New Jersey Transit Villages, Alan M. Voorhees Transit Center, Rutgers Univiersity, 02/2011 - Findings on residential property values suggest an association between designation of transit villages and increased property values. Municipalities that support and invest around transit stations are more likely to see increased property values
  • The New Real Estate Mantra: Location Near Public Transportation, Center for Neighborhood Technology, American Public Transportation Association, and National Association of Realtors, 03/2013 - Residential properties located in proximity to fixed-guideway transit have maintained their property value during recessionary times to a greater degree residential properties without transit access. Residents of these properties also had better access to jobs and lower transportation costs
  • Rails to Real Estate: Development Patterns Along Three New Transit Lines, Center for Transit-Oriented Development, 03/21/2011 - Studies development activity following construction on transit lines in three cities. All three lines experienced a tremendous amount of new development, especially near downtown and other employment centers. Early area station planning and strategic public investment in pedestrian connections, streetscape and other attractive features can boost TOD development potential and transit use
  • TOD Economic Analysis and Market Study, Denver, CO, 2008 - Assesses short and long-term demand for new residential, office, and retail space at the regional, system-wide, transit corridor, and station area levels, identifies market opportunities in ten of the station areas, and provides a toolbox of strategies to facilitate development
  • Transit and Regional Economic Development, Center for Transit-Oriented Development, 05/2011 - Focuses primarily on the location decisions of employers. Analyzes which industrial sectors are more likely to locate in higher density, transit-served and examines the character of employment clusters near transit
  • Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and Employment, Center for Transit-Oriented Development, 05/2011 - Discusses the relationship between transit and job concentrations and explains the importance of the destination side of the trip (degree of employment) for both transit ridership/operations and land-use planning in station areas

Plans and Programs


Other States

  • Atlanta Regional Commission, GA Transit-Oriented Development - Brief description of Atlanta's TOD program. Interesting information about Atlanta TOD Collaborative, a partnership of non-profits and government agencies aimed at removing barriers to, and advancing incentives for, equitable transit-oriented development in the Atlanta region, while increasing awareness of the benefits of TOD
  • Denver, CO
  • Metropolitan Council, MN (Minneapolis - St. Paul region)
      • Metro Council Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) - Website emphasizes the role of TODs and “Corridors of Opportunity” toward fostering economic growth and social equity. The region's emerging transitway system is used as a focus for development. Resources include TOD Strategic Action Plan, and recent Guide for Transit Oriented Development
      • Corridors of Opportunity - Program to connect people of all incomes and backgrounds to jobs, housing choices, recreation and service, social equity
      • Metro Council TOD Guide - Includes guidance for compact development and the Council's Land Use Densities Rules of Thumb for urban and suburban centers. Also see TOD Guide overview,
      • Stadium Village University Avenue Station Area Plan, Minneapolis, MN, 08/31/2012 - Detailed station area plan includes public outreach process market study and public realm and connectivity study
  • Oakland, CA Neighborhood and Area Plans - Oakland has actively promoted TOD development as reflected in the transit station and TOD plans on this page. The Harrison Street plan applies TOD design to a bus corridor. Each plan page includes many background materials including participation process and presentation materials, market assessment and retail enhancement studies. There are also links to other players in the region, such as BART's (rapid transit) Station Area Plans page which includes TOD Guidelines and the BART parking management toolkit. The Metropolitan Transit Commission (San Francisco Bay Area) Transit Oriented Development page features a number of "TODcasts" that provide virtual tours of transit nodes and corridors on that system.
  • Central Petaluma (CA) Specific Plan, 07/01/2013 - See Appendix A: Petaluma Smart Rail Station Areas TOD Master Plan, 07/01/2013 - Another good station area plan including development and design guidelines, thoroughfare standards, and historic conservation
  • Portland OR Metro Transit-Oriented Development - Another very rich site with links to TOD strategic plan, featured projects, and some very useful toolkits, including community investment toolkit, financial incentives toolkit, innovative design and development codes toolkit, nature-friendly development toolkit, and tools for designing streets
    • Portland Metro Transit Oriented Development Strategic Plan, 05/2011 - Among its many virtues, the plan focuses on proving investment direction for limited resources, and catalyzing private development projects. The plan is also concerned with place-making improvements to enhance TODs
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Sommerville, MA Equitable TOD Strategy, 05/2008 - TODs have the potential to impact low and moderate-income residents of the city by raising housing costs, potentially displacing the residents and businesses. This strategy is intended to promote an equitable approach to transit-oriented development by ensuring a diversity of housing choices that are affordable to households at a range of incomes, as well as the small and local business opportunities that can help build wealth in the community



  • Bellevue Land Use Code Part 20.25D, and Ordinance No. 5874 - Implements Bel-Red subarea plan to transform existing commercial corridor into multimodal, mixed-use transit-oriented center with the addition of a light rail station. F.A.R. Incentive system developed with help from an Urban Land Institute Technical Assistance Panel
  • Everett Municipal Code Ch. 19.31B E-1 (Evergreen Way) and MUO (Mixed Use Overlays) Zones - Overlay zones with development and design standards to support pedestrian-friendly and transit-oriented development in proximity to the Swift Bus Rapid Transit stations
  • Redmond
    • Redmond Zoning Code Ch. 21.28 - High Capacity Transit Corridor Preservation - Supports extension of light rail and prevents encroachment of structures into future transit corridor
    • Redmond Zoning Code Sec. 21.12.070 - OV Zone 4 (in Overlake Village) - Provides for compact, mixed use, transit-supportive development
    • Redmond Zoning Code Sec. 21.12.170 - OV Incentive Program provides incentives for TOD development located near a light rail, bus rapid or high capacity transit station
  • Seatac
    • SeaTac Municipal Code Ch. 15.530 - High Capacity Transit Facilities Design Standards
    • Ch. 15.38 - Special Standards for the South 154th Street Station Area
  • Vancouver, WA Zoning Code Ch. 20.550 - Transit Overlay District - Includes incentives; maximum parking allowances

Other States

  • Charlotte, NC Code of Ordinances, Appendix A: Zoning, Ch.10, Part 9: Transit Supportive Overlay District Sec. 10.901 - 10.913
  • Massachusetts Transit Oriented Development Overlay District: Model Bylaw, Smart Growth Toolkit Bylaw
  • Hillsboro, OR Zoning Ordinance Volume II, Sec. 136 through 142 - Light Rail Station Community Planning Areas; See Volume I for definitions and procedural requirements.
  • Portland, OR Zoning Code Ch. 33.450 - Light Rail Transit Station Zone
  • Santa Ana, CA Code of Ordinances Ch. 41, Article XIX - The Transit Zoning Code - Specific Development No. 84 Driehaus Award-Winning form-based code, 06/07/2010


  • Infrastructure Financing Options for Transit-Oriented Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 01/2013 - Helpful discussion of concepts and comprehensive information about a variety of traditional and innovative funding and financing resources including structures funds. Also includes case studies to illustrate application of financing
  • Federal Grant Opportunities, compiled by Reconnecting America, last updated 10/09/2013 - A very comprehensive listing with links to federal grant programs available to promote sustainable or smart growth communities, for which TOD projects may be eligible. Includes grants that may be used for community planning, affordable housing finance, technical assistance, research, and capital infrastructure investments.
  • Filling the Financing Gap for Equitable Transit-Oriented Development Lessons from Atlanta, Denver, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Twin Cities, Enterprise Community Partners and the Low Income Investment Fund, 04/2013 - This report by reviews existing equitable TOD financing tools, using four regions as examples. The paper then identifies systemic financing gaps and recommends potential capital and/or policy solutions to make equitable TOD a reality
  • 2010 Inventory of TOD Programs: A National Review of State, Regional and Local Programs that Fund Transit-Oriented Development Plans and Projects, Reconnecting American, 01/2011 - Inventory of ongoing, institutionalized programs that provide grants, loans, tax credits or direct financial incentives to TOD plans or projects
  • Financing Transit-Oriented Development: Policy Options and Strategies in the San Francisco Bay Area, prepared for Metropolitan Transportation Commission, by the Center for Transit-Oriented Development, 08/2008 - Recommendations for a flexible TOD financing program that responds to different market conditions within the region and provides funding for a range of uses that help achieve regional goals for livability, efficient transportation, and improved environmental quality
  • Great Streets Neighborhood Business District program: Real Estate Development Gap Financing, Minneapolis, MN - City program offers gap financing resources for real estate development and development acquisition for transformative commercial development projects located on designated commercial corridors, nodes, and LRT station area
  • Living Cities Catalytic Capital - A collaboration of 22 of the nation's largest foundations and financial institutions which supports communities seeking to reshape how they meet the needs of low-income residents

Other Recommended Resources

  • Center for Transit-Oriented Development at ReconnectingAmerica - A major resource with links to reports and studies, case studies, and the latest TOD news
    • CTOD Webinars - Includes topics or current interest such as value capture, transit and employment, and planning equitable corridors
  • Denver Regional Council of Governments Transit-Oriented Development - Contains a wealth of articles and a resource database full of examples retrievable by key word search
  • Federal Transit Administration Transportation Oriented Development website - Links to many helpful publications and training resources
  • Portland Metro, Transit-Oriented Development - Links to Portland area program documents, project descriptions and strategic plan
  • Seattle Transit Oriented Development Advocate - Seattle and other Northwest Programs including lessons learned
  • Victoria Transport Policy Institute Transit Oriented Development: Using Public Transit to Create More Accessible and LivableNeighborhoods, 04/01/2014 - Offers a wealth of TOD information including a description of defining features of TOD, density requirements for various levels of transit service, factors that promote TOD success and higher transit use, benefits and costs, best practices, case studies, and links to a multitude of resources and articles
  • Transportation Efficient Communities - Partnership between multiple Washington State departments to help local planners and officials make their communities more transportation-efficient; includes sections on compact growth and planning for all transportation modes.

Last Modified: December 17, 2019