Transit Oriented Development 101 – the six main things you need to know

One of the focal points of my 2013 Green Shoe Travel tour was how to integrate land use, transit and density. Transit oriented development (TOD) is obviously a major tool for that. Since I was appointed in 2006 to chair the (now defunct) Queensland State Government TOD Taskforce, I have spent a lot of time looking at best practice examples around the world. Some interesting examples I’ve seen include:
– the Rosslyn to Ballston corridor in Arlington Virginia, along five Metro stops outside Washington DC. An extraordinary achievement over 30 years effort:

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Hammarby Sjostad in Stockholm Sweden, another extraordinary achievement, but in just 10 years:

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– examples in Portland Oregon, including the Pearl District, South Waterfront, The Round (pictured below) and Orenco

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– numerous examples in metro Vancouver, including Metrotown at Burnaby, Joyce-Collingwood, New Westminster, Port Moody (pictured below), Surrey Central and King George

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Subiaco in Perth, along with efforts at Cockburn Central and Wellard in that city
– examples in Sydney at Kogarah, Parramatta, and Rouse Hill

Thee are some good local examples too, like Southbank and Mater Hill in Brisbane.

And what did I learn from looking at all these examples around the world, plus the Taskforce experience? I thought you’d never ask! Let me tell you six things you need to know to get the best outcomes from transit oriented development:

1. TOD is about planning for precincts around transit nodes, rather than one building or development.
2. The key ingredients are intensity of use, mixed use, good quality transit and an emphasis on good quality urban design and the public realm.
3. TOD is not one size fits all. It’s contextual. Height, density and land use mix varies according to the setting in the region.
4. To work best, TOD precincts also need to be a focus for other transport modes including pedestrians and by bike.
-5. TOD precincts can be either more of an origin (where the emphasis is more on housing) or destination (with an emphasis on employment, entertainment and services)
6. Getting TOD precincts established takes time. They often involve complex land tenure or ownership, and require infrastructure investment, and a lot of consultation with local communities.

And I reckon that is about it. Understand and concentrate on those aspects, and you’ll go okay!

Greg Vann
November 2013 (updated December 2014)

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