Advocating for TOD

Transit-oriented development (TOD) benefits communities most when it includes everybody. We’re helping advocates in the environmental, transportation, housing, and equity arenas make the case for fair and affordable transit-oriented development.

When households of all incomes can live in neighborhoods with access to transit and jobs, they have greater choices between housing units, employment opportunities, and multiple transportation options connecting the two. With that expanded choice comes a lower reliance on automobiles. As households drive less, they spend less on transportation, freeing up money for things like childcare, education, health care, conventional down payments, and savings. Through this connection to job opportunities via transit, economic mobility increases. Greenhouse gases go down. Neighborhoods become more economically and fiscally resilient. And many of these benefits accrue at an even greater rate when transit-oriented development (TOD) includes units for all incomes.

We’re making the case for equitable transit-oriented development all over the United States.

We’ve found that:

  • TOD is an effective climate mitigation strategy. In our research for the California Housing Partnership, we found that affordable housing in TOD can substantially cut vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and greenhouse gas (GHG).
  • TOD reduces the cost of living. Our Housing and Transportation (H+T) Affordability Index has found that compact communities near jobs and transit can have lower transportation costs. Households living in affordable units within TODs can own fewer cars and apply that savings to other needs.
  • TOD can protect property values. With American Public Transit Association and the American Association of Realtors, we found that transit-oriented properties held their value better during the depths of the Great Recession and subprime mortgage crisis.
  • TOD helps connect households with economic opportunity. Our AllTransit tool shows that in neighborhoods with high-quality transit, households can reach hundreds of thousands of jobs within a 30-minute transit ride. This opens career paths and job opportunities to lower-income households that may not own cars.

TOD can help communities meet fair housing goals. CNT and Open Communities have promoted mixed-income TOD to help communities meet Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing goals. Mixed-income TOD connects households to economic opportunity in an environment that promotes interaction and diversity.

Learn more

Quality of Life, (e)Quality of Place: Growing Local Economies through Equitable Transit-Oriented Development

The New Real Estate Mantra: Location Near Public Transportation

Safe, Decent and Affordable: Transportation Costs of Affordable Housing in the Chicago Region

Equitable Transit-Oriented Development Score

“TOD can reduce dependence on cars, improve the cost of living, connect workers to opportunity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We’re working to ensure that households of all incomes and backgrounds can enjoy those benefits, in cities and in suburbs, and in regions large and small.”

Kyle Smith
Principal, KDS Consulting

Research + Further Reading

Quality of Life, (e)Quality of Place

by CNT and Open Communities
January 15, 2015

Rail transit anchors downtowns and neighborhoods in communities throughout Chicago’s northern suburbs and across the region, but many of these communities are falling behind in creating mixed-income transit-oriented development. This guidebook offers case studies, policy recommendations, and public participation tools to help suburbs build affordable, accessible housing around transit.


The New Real Estate Mantra: Location Near Public Transportation

by CNT for the American Public Transit Association + National Association of Realtors
March 21, 2013

Residential real estate sales prices for properties located near transit are healthier and more resilient than in the broader metropolitan region. That’s the conclusion of this report, written by CNT and commissioned by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Although residential real estate prices dropped during the recession in the five regions studied (2006 to 2011 in Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix, and San Francisco), average sales prices for residential properties within walking distance of a heavy rail, light rail, commuter rail, and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) station outperformed the region by an average of 42 percent.


Safe, Decent and Affordable: Transportation Costs of Affordable Housing in the Chicago Region

by CNT
January 31, 2012

CNT applied the H+T Index to 248 multifamily properties financed by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) from 2001-2008 in the Chicago region. The study reveals the average transportation costs in these locations and measures the degree to which residents enjoyed access to local amenities, regional jobs, public transit, and other opportunities-all major factors in the affordability equation.