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Transit-Oriented Development

This page provides an overview of transit-oriented development for local governments in Washington State, 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 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




  • Building Support for Transit-Oriented Development: Do Community-Engagement Toolkits Work? by Erin Machell, Troy Reinhalter, and Karen Chapple, University of California Transportation Center UCTC Research Paper No. 885 (2011) - San Francisco area study uses focus groups to evaluate how well various community education and outreach strategies worked and makes suggestions about how they might be altered to work better
  • Effects of TOD on Housing, Parking, and Travel, by Robert Cervero and G. B. Arrington Transportation Research Board (2008) - Provides original data on TOD residential trip generation and parking, the behavior and motivation of TOD residents, employees, and employers in their mode choice. The report also identifies best practices to promote, maintain, and improve TOD-related transit ridership
  • Encouraging Transit-Oriented Development: Case Studies of Tools that Work, prepared by Reconnecting America for Local Initiative Support Corporation, Phoenix, AZ (2009) - Summarizes TOD tools that are used by communities around the country and focuses on ten tools, including joint development, right-sizing parking, land assembly and housing trust funds
  • Parking Policy for Transit-Oriented Development: Lessons for Cities, Transit Agencies, and Developers, Richard Willson, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 8, No. 5 (2005) - Nicely organized report with policy recommendations for improving parking policy for TODs that are still useful
  • San Mateo Transit-Oriented Development Opportunity Study, Final Report, San Mateo County, CA (2007) - This study contains very useful insights about addressing factors that can facilitate both small scale infill parcel development for parcels near stations and land assembly for larger infill development near TODs
  • Vehicle Trip Reduction Impacts of Transit-Oriented Housing, by Robert Cervero and G. B. Arrington, Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 11, No. 3 (2008) - A survey of 17 transit-oriented developments (TOD) in five U.S. metropolitan areas showed that vehicle trips per dwelling unit were substantially below what the Institute of Transportation Engineer's Trip Generation manual estimates

Market Forces

  • Capturing the Value of Transit, prepared for United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration by the Center for Transit-Oriented Development (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 (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 (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

Examples of Local Plans and Programs

  • Bellevue Bel-Red Area Look Back - Describes subarea plan to transform existing commercial corridor into multimodal, mixed-use transit-oriented center with the addition of a light rail station
  • Everett Evergreen Way Revitalization Plan (2012) - Mixed-use, transit-oriented development served by Swift Bus Rapid Transit Station
  • King County Transit-Oriented Development Program - Good descriptions of a number of TOD projects
  • Shoreline Light Rail Subarea Station Area Planning - Very informative webpage about the station area planning. Includes planning documents, timeline, public and stakeholder involvement plan, and walking and biking tours of the station area

Examples of Local Ordinances

  • 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 Municipal Code Ch. 15.530 - High Capacity Transit Facilities Design Standards
  • Vancouver, WA Zoning Code Ch. 20.550 - Transit Overlay District - Includes incentives; maximum parking allowances


  • Infrastructure Financing Options for Transit-Oriented Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (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
  • 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 (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
  • 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 (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

Other Recommended Resources

Last Modified: April 02, 2021