Center for Transit-Oriented Development

The Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD) is a joint venture with the Reconnecting America, a non-profit working to integrate transportation systems and the communities they serve; and Strategic Economics, an urban economics firm. CTOD is the only national nonprofit effort dedicated to providing best practices, research and tools to support market-based transit-oriented development. We partner with both the public and private sectors to strategize about ways to encourage the development of high-performing TOD projects around transit stations and to build transit systems that maximize the development potential.

CTOD has been funded by the federal government to serve as a national clearinghouse for best practices in TOD, to help develop standards for TOD as well as guidance for transit system planning with the goal of maximizing ridership through planning and development. CTOD also does fee-for-service work in regions, which helps inform our nonprofit work.

Transit-oriented development is often defined as higher-density mixed-use development within walking distance – or a half mile – of transit stations. We use a performance-based definition, and believe that projects should also:

  • Increase “location efficiency” so people can walk and bike and take transit
  • Boost transit ridership and minimize traffic
  • Provide a rich mix of housing, shopping and transportation choices
  • Generate revenue for the public and private sectors and provide value for both new and existing residents
  • Create a sense of place

We believe that TOD is really about creating attractive, walkable, sustainable communities that allow residents to have housing and transportation choices and to live convenient, affordable, pleasant liveswith places for our kids to play and for our parents to grow old comfortably.

One of CTOD’s key assets is a national TOD database – a GIS platform that includes every fixed-guideway transit system in the U.S. and demographic and land-use data for the half-mile radius around all 4,000 stations. This tool enables us to provide detailed information on the performance of TOD in metropolitan regions and allows us to generate specialized reports on local markets and land development opportunities – thereby alerting investors, developers and public partners to the huge potential of the emerging TOD market. CTOD has also developed an “affordability index” that can be used to calculate the combined cost of housing and transportation in regions with transita more accurate measure of affordability than housing costs alone. This mapping tool can help illuminate the inherent value of urban markets and the fact that dense, walkable, transit-rich neighborhoods are more affordable. Both tools can both be used to provide a fact-based assessment of the potential for TOD.

In 2004, CTOD analyzed the first generation of TOD projects in order to extract the lessons learned in a book entitled, “The New Transit Town: Best Practices in Transit-Oriented Development”. In 2005, we released “Hidden in Plain Sight: Capturing the Demand for Housing Near Transit,” a national TOD market study that found the demand for compact housing near transit is likely to more than double by 2025 because of changing demographics and housing preferences. Since then we’ve worked with cities and transit agencies across the U.S., and with the Federal Transit Administration, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the American Public Transportation Association to come to a better understanding about how to promote high-performing TOD projects. We have also worked with developers and investors to help inform the private sector’s view about TOD.

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