Transit Oriented Developments, or TOD's, have recently surged in popularity due to urban infill growth and the need for these transportation solutions.
Transit options encourage development along their routes. This has been apparent in many cities with superior public transportation, such as Seattle and DC. Transit Oriented Developments, or TOD's, have recently surged in popularity due to urban infill growth and the need for these transportation solutions.
What is a TOD, you ask? TOD's are essentially mixed-use developments located on or near public transportation routes, most commonly light rail or train systems. TOD's offer walkability and an urban feel. They provide value for residents and retailers by cutting out inconvenient travel times. TOD's strive to instill the sense of community that small town America once offered. The result of a TOD is infrastructure cost savings that will free up tax money for other causes.
The TOD is incredibly good for the environment and quality of life, too. According to the EPA, greenhouse gasses from individual motor vehicles has increased 19% between 1990 and 2010. Furthermore, 38% of carbon monoxide in the air is from highway vehicles. Deaths from car accidents are the #3 leading cause of life years lost, as young people are more likely to perish in car crashes. Being able to get work done or study on public transportation also leads to more productivity. Getting this work out of the way also leads to more time to be active, and will ideally cut down on the obesity epidemic.
Transit Oriented Developments also serve to bring socioeconomic benefits. Owning, maintaining, and insuring a car is very costly, not to mention paying for gas. When families can save big money on cutting out this expense, they are more likely to be able to afford housing closer to their jobs in town instead of having to commute from the suburbs. Austin has the 2nd fastest growing rate of suburban poverty in the nation, which is something that TOD's and an efficient public transportation network can help fix. Check out the article here.
With the cost of car ownership on the rise, and the advent of ride sharing companies Uber/Lyft, young people are becoming less interested in owning cars of their own. More and more college students are studying abroad, frequently in European cities, and seeing firsthand that the American idea of mandatory car ownership isn't necessarily the best solution to lead a full and heathy lifestyle. The Congress for New Urbanism is a great organization that promotes TOD's and smart urban infill growth. According to the EPA, the US population is set to grow 42% between 2010 and 2050; much of that growth coming to urban centers across the country.
In order to be financially viable, however, government support and smooth re-zoning processes ought to be available to TOD developers. The Transit Oriented Development Infrastructure Financing Act was re-introduced this March, and it remains to be seen how generous the government will be to stimulate TOD's nationwide. Read more about it here.