Is Transit-Oriented Development Affordable for Low and Moderate Income Households (in terms of H+T)?

Reid Ewing, University of Utah



The transportation and land use planning paradigm is shifting away from segregated uses connected by highways and roads to more compact, mixed-use developments connected by high quality transit. This new paradigm has brought transit-oriented development (TOD) to the fore, and researchers continue to highlight advantages of this style of well-integrated land use and transportation planning. When it comes to affordability, what counts isn’t housing costs alone but the combination of housing plus transportation costs (H+T).  If TODs do, in fact, command higher rents due to increased transit accessibility, this creates an issue of social equity, especially if higher housing costs are not offset by transportation-related cost savings. Promoting a development style that limits access for transit-dependent populations by pricing those residents out of the market could potentially be counterproductive. In this study we first confirm whether TOD style development capitalizes on increased accessibility by demanding higher rents than comparable contemporary developments with similar amenities. More importantly, we then compare the rent premiums with estimates of transportation cost savings for TOD dwellers to see whether the combination of H+T exceeds affordability standards for different income groups. Based on case studies, we also identify measures taken by exemplary TOD developers and jurisdictions to make housing affordable for low and moderate income households.  


The report will become one of the key documents in support of TOD, and will indicate that mechanisms such as inclusionary housing are necessary if we are to provide transit accessible housing for low-income housing.

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
In Progress
End Date:
December 31,2020
UTC Grant Cycle:
NITC 16 Round 3
UTC Funding: