Revisiting TODs: How Subsequent Development Affects the Travel Behavior of Residents in Existing Transit-Oriented Developments

Nathan McNeil, Portland State University



Since 2000, Metro, the regional government in Portland, OR, has invested public funds in development projects through their TOD program. The agency generally provides between $300,000 and $500,000 in situations wherein the additional funding can help realize denser projects that increase the number of people served by high-quality transit and/or catalyze development sooner than would occur if left completely to the market. As will be discussed later, definitions of transit-oriented development, and when exactly the term should be applied sometimes differ.

Portland State University has worked with the Portland Metro regional government periodically since 2005 to survey occupants of buildings for which developers had received funding from Metro’s Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Program. This research extends upon the prior TOD surveys in Portland by revisiting a set of developments with a second wave of surveys to understand how the travel behavior of TOD residents may change over time, and what factors influence change in travel patterns. The second-wave surveys, coming 8-13 years after the baseline surveys, include five TODs in the west-side Portland suburbs of Hillsboro and Beaverton, two TODs in East Portland, and eight TODs in the east-side Portland suburb of Gresham. Second-wave surveys were sent to the same buildings as the baseline surveys (in most cases, to every unit), but not specifically to the same people as in the baseline. Surveys asked about household travel options, daily travel for work and non-work purposes, and questions on travel preferences and attitudes. 

Our hypothesis was that as neighborhoods are built out, both around the TOD and other transit station areas, residents would have greater opportunities to use transit (along with walking and bicycling) for daily travel. For the sample as a whole, there were three changes between the baseline and second-wave surveys that are consistent with the objectives of TODs: the share of people commuting to work by driving alone four to five days a week fell from 58% to 46%, while the share never driving alone rose from 11% to 24%; the share of people walking or biking to work at least one day a week rose from 9% to 29%; and the share of people living in low-car households (fewer cars than adults) increased from 34% to 50%, though the share of car-free household did not change. We did not see any changes in the overall sample with respect to commuting by transit or using transit, walking, or bicycling for other, non-commute trip purposes.

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
End Date:
November 29,2019
UTC Grant Cycle:
NITC 16 Round 2
UTC Funding: