Do TODs Make A Difference? Phase 2

Arthur C. Nelson, University of Utah



The United States is moving into a new era of metropolitan development and form. The demographic, economic and finance drivers that made America a suburban nation may have run their course. America will see a shift toward infill and redevelopment. Facilitating this will be fixed-guideway transit systems and the transit oriented developments (TODs) they serve. In this report, we present research that measures the outcomes of TOD areas in relation to their metropolitan area controls with respect to (1) jobs by sector; (2) housing choice for household types based on key demographic characteristics; (3) housing affordability based on transportation costs; and (4) job-worker balance as a measure of accessibility. Prior literature has not systematically evaluated TOD outcomes in these respects with respect to light rail transit (LRT), commuter rail transit (CRT), bus rapid transit (BRT), and streetcar transit (SCT) systems. Our analysis helps close some of these gaps. We apply our analysis to 23 fixed-guideway transit systems operating in 17 metropolitan areas in the South and West that have one or more of those systems.


America will add at least 100 million new residents, 40 million new households, and 60 million new jobs by 2050. We know from demographic analysis and consumer preference surveys that at least a third of America’s 150 million households (50+ million) in 2050 will want to live in locations providing them with transit options, in addition to mixed-use and mixed-housing options. We also know from research on firm location behavior that up to 100 million jobs will be attracted to locations with transit options. What we do not know is whether and the extent to which TODs deliver on their promise to attract and even generate jobs, expand housing choice for certain types of households, enhance housing affordability, and improve job accessibility measured in terms of the occupation-household balance.  Results will likely help guide LTR, CRT, BRT and SCT planning, design, investment, and implementation for many years if not decades to come.

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
End Date:
December 31,2015
UTC Grant Cycle:
Natl Round 1
UTC Funding: