Transportation + Community Development at CNT
For four decades, we’ve been an innovator in building sustainable communities. Compact, transit-oriented development (TOD) offers the opportunity to build economically vibrant neighborhoods and capitalize on trends to reduce car ownership, lower transportation costs, and achieve regional sustainability goals.
Community benefits of TOD include:
- Greater sense of community and of place
- More sustainable and efficient use of land, energy, and resources
- Less reliance on cars, resulting in lower gas consumption and greenhouse gas emissions
- Reduced household spending on transportation
- Increased foot traffic for local businesses
- Increased property values which can be leveraged for future development
- Improved public health through increased walking and biking
- Opportunities for mixed-income housing
- Expanded transit ridership
- Lower public expenditures on roads, water and sewer infrastructure, and police and fire protection
Quickly growing demographic groups are helping to fuel the demand for TOD. Households that are over 50, non-family, and/or ethnically diverse have historically shown a preference for higher-density housing near transit. Among Millennials, a preference for active lifestyles that don’t require driving, proximity to restaurants and other urban amenities, and a desire to use smartphone technology while commuting should help sustain demand for the foreseeable future.
Although TOD has been proven to help support transit and aid in community revitalization, there are often barriers that impede the creation of TODs.
Zoning may be prohibitive, obtaining financing can be difficult, and structured parking – although a more efficient use of land – is more expensive than surface parking. Additionally, current residents may resist land use changes. A strategic approach to implementing TOD can help to remove these obstacles. When communities target their land use, transportation, housing, and economic development investments towards transit-served areas, they can encourage TOD.
Effective strategies and tools to spur TOD include:
- Land assembly
- Mixed-use zoning and density bonuses
- Reduced parking requirements
- Transfer of Development Rights programs
- Expedited approval for developers
- Value capture and business improvement districts
- Targeted Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), and HOME investments
- Participatory community planning
- Small business incubators
- Public markets
Our research, tools, and policy initiatives have helped shift development patterns in communities across the country. We empower local leaders, developers, and investors to create the kinds of diverse housing and transportation options that resilient cities need.
How does this affect you? Our work has shown that:
- The combined costs of housing and transportation give a more complete assessment of affordability than housing costs alone as demonstrated by our H+T Affordability Index.
- Where you live has a bigger impact on transportation costs than the number of people in your household or your income.
- Places with access to services, walkable destinations, extensive and frequent transit, access to jobs, and density have lower household transportation costs.
- Creating neighborhoods with affordable housing and transportation costs requires multiple and targeted strategies and coordination within and across government agencies and the private sector.
- Underdeveloped areas surrounding transit stations present an opportunity to create new affordable and diverse neighborhoods and avoid “transit deserts.”
- Residential real estate sales prices for properties located near transit are healthier and more resilient than in broader metropolitan regions.
To learn more about CNT’s work in Transportation and Community Development, take a look at our projects, tools and resources on this page.