TOD Reading List
December 2008
Volume 4, Number 3

The Returning City: Historic Preservation and Transit in the Age of Civic Renewal (2003)

By Dan Costello with Robert Mendelsohn, Anne Canby and Joseph Bender
Produced by the National Trust for Historic Preservation with support from the Federal Transit Administration

The Returning City demonstrates how transit and historic preservation act in complementary ways to invigorate urban and suburban neighborhoods. In case studies from around the country, the authors offer detailed accounts of transit-oriented developments that have been spurred by, and serve to reinforce, historic preservation efforts and transit investments. The study concludes that public-private collaboration, community involvement, creative and flexible financing, and parking strategies that are both pragmatic and context-sensitive, are among the keys to achieving development that respects a community’s historic assets and encourages the use of transit.

Getting to Smart Growth II: 100 More Policies for Implementation (2003)

By Smart Growth Network and ICMA

This manual for Smart Growth implementation offers 10 policy recommendations for each of 10 Smart Growth goals. To achieve one of those goals — providing a variety of transportation choices — the guidebook suggests a number of strategies, including the creation of car-share programs, the transformation of park-and-ride lots in multi-use facilities, comprehensive bike programs, and providing transit riders with customized travel information. In addition to proposing public sector actions, the manual also points to private-sector opportunities that correspond with Smart Growth goals. Intermingled with suggested policies are “Practice Tips” and “Finance Tips” that offer lessons learned from actual projects.

Parking Spaces/Community Places: Finding the Balance through Smart Growth Solutions (2006)

By U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Parking Spaces/Community Places, a report from EPA’s Development, Community and Environment Division, provides a summary of the financial and environmental costs of parking, describes the dubious criteria on which most parking requirements are based, and offers a list of alternative parking strategies that support TOD and other Smart Growth efforts. The list of alternative strategies includes those that reduce the over-supply of parking (e.g., transit zoning overlays, shared parking and in-lieu parking fees), and those that manage parking demand (e.g., car sharing, improvements to transit, better pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and employee cash-out programs). The report also contains case studies that show alternative parking strategies in action, such as the elimination of minimum parking requirements in Portland, OR, and the use of shared parking facilities in Wilton Manors, FL.

High Cost of Free Parking (2005)

By Donald C. Shoup

In this innovative book, UCLA planning professor Donald Shoup challenges traditional parking methodologies and strategies. Free parking, Shoup argues, has contributed to auto dependence, rapid urban sprawl, extravagant energy use, and a host of other problems. The concept of “free” parking distorts transportation choices, results in bad urban design, hurts our economy, and damages the environment. Shoup proposes new ways for cities to regulate parking, namely, charge fair market prices for curb parking, use the resulting revenue to pay for services in the neighborhoods that generate it, and remove zoning requirements for off-street parking.

Transit-Oriented Development: Developing a Strategy to Measure Success (2005)

By John L. Renne and Jan S. Wells (Research Results Digest 294, National Cooperative Highway Research Program)

This digest offers a strategy to systematically evaluate the potential success of transit-oriented development. Renne and Wells identify and evaluate various indicators of the impacts of transit-oriented development, and single out 10 indicators, based on a national survey of transportation professionals working in the field, that can be used to monitor and measure those impacts.

Hidden in Plain Sight: Capturing the Demand for Housing Near Transit (2004)

A Report by Reconnecting America and The Center for Transit-Oriented Development

This report studies the demand for housing near America's existing rapid transit systems and finds that demand for such housing will likely double (to 14.6 million households) by 2025. Whether or not this potential demand for higher-density transit-oriented living can be met depends on the ability of the market to provide attractive and affordable options and the public sector's ability to accommodate and encourage such development.

The New Transit Town: Best Practices in Transit-Oriented Development (2004)

Edited by Hank Dittmar and Gloria Ohland

In this book, the demographic trends that favor increasing demand for TOD are outlined, as are the key issues of design, supportive public policy, and finance that often determine TOD's fate. The later chapters provide critical case studies that point out successes and failures of the "first generation" of TOD while suggesting the lessons that can be taken forward.

Transit-Oriented Development in the United States: Experiences, Challenges, and Prospects (2004)

A Report by the Transit Cooperative Research Program of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C.

This comprehensive analysis of TOD practice examines its impacts, benefits, and barriers, as well as the public policies, implementation tools, and financing mechanisms that developers and public officials have found to be most useful. The report also provides detailed case studies of TOD in 10 parts of the country, from New Jersey to San Francisco.

Planning for Transit-Friendly Land Use: A Handbook for New Jersey Communities (1994)


This is still an invaluable tool even after 10 years in circulation! The Handbook is designed to assist elected and appointed planning officials, planning and zoning boards, technical staff and the general community in creating an environment around a transit stop that is a safe, clean, vibrant and active place.

Communicating the Benefits of Transit-Oriented Development (2006)

By Cali Gorewitz and Gloria Ohland, Reconnecting America’s Center for Transit-Oriented Development,
Carrie Makarewicz, Albert Benedict, and ChaNell Marshall, Center for Neighborhood Techology and
Dr. Jan Wells and Martin Robins, Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center
(Prepared for the US EPA's Development, Community and Environment Division)

Communicating the Benefits of Transit-Oriented Development, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, examines two sub-regions that have capitalized on the benefits realized from transit-oriented “redevelopment” — Hoboken and Jersey City in New Jersey, and Evanston, Illinois. Formerly in economic decline, both areas are now economic engines, attracting businesses and residents to a growing inventory of new development.

In the Hoboken and Jersey City example, Dr. Jan Wells and Martin Robins, both of Rutgers University’s Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center, trace how once derelict and abandoned properties facing Manhattan are now large, mixed-use real estate gold mines. The recent introduction of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line which serves the area has added a positive mobility dimension to these locations. In the Evanston example, Carrie Makarewicz, Albert Benedict, and ChaNell Marshall, of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, recount how the city launched its 1986 economic revitalization plan to transform the downtown by attracting new construction to locate near its under-utilized Metra and El rail stations. Both sub-regions now boast healthy and vibrant economies that appeal to urban dwellers who are taking advantage of the ready access to the New York and Chicago metropolitan areas via public transit.

The study can be downloaded from Reconnecting America.

Building Livable Communities with Transit: Planning, Developing, and Implementing Community-Sensitive Transit (August 2006)

By the Federal Transit Administration

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), through its Livable Communities Initiative (LCI), issued this manual to help local governments, transit agencies and transit planners address community concerns as they develop and enhance transit facilities, such as light rail stations. This LCI guide strongly emphasizes that transit planning should knit itself more closely to its community planning counterpart. A community-sensitive transit facility, for example, would include readily available customer information, provisions for a safe and secure environment, sufficient bike and pedestrian access, and architecture reflecting the values of the community. Using a five-step process for the development of transit facilities — metro planning, programming, project development, project implementation, and operations/maintenance — this manual suggests that active civic involvement should be sought at each phase. Active participation of the stakeholders, especially those traditionally underrepresented, will ensure the transit facility meets the needs and expectations of potential users.

The LCI has helped fund 21 projects across the country. Two examples are projects in Baltimore and Chicago. In Baltimore, the Maryland Transit Administration, using an LCI grant, built a child care center and police substation at the Reisterstown Road Metro Station Park and Ride. The station also received landscape improvements, covered walkways, and enhanced customer information. Similarly, at the Tech/35th Street Station along the Chicago Transit Authority’s Green Line, an LCI-funded project improved bus connections, added safety and security features and enhanced pedestrian walkways, among other improvements. The Building Livable Communities manual summarizes each of the LCI-supported projects in the appendices.

Creating Walkable Places (2006)

By Adrienne Schmitz and Jason Scully
(Urban Land Institute)

Richly illustrated with color photographs, site plans, and diagrams, this new book explains how to create pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use developments including those with “transit-oriented cores.” Topics cover the need for active lifestyles in light of today’s health and obesity concerns, how to get financing for mixed-use, new urbanist, and higher-density projects that don’t “fit the mold,” the role of the public sector, how to reconfigure old places and plan and design new projects, and what to do about parking. Case studies describe walkable, mixed-use town centers, and pedestrian-focused communities in urban and suburban settings. This is the perfect gift for planning board members and community leaders to help them understand and see the possibilities of more compact, well-designed development focused around walking and biking.

Transit Village Symposium: "Progress and Future"
Symposium Proceedings

By Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center
and New Jersey Department of Transportation
with support from The New Jersey State League of Municipalities

Now available on line: Summary of Proceedings from the Second Transit Village Initiative Symposium, “Progress and Future,” held Friday, June 9, 2006 and sponsored by the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers — The State University of New Jersey. More than 150 leaders from the public sector, private industry and non-governmental organizations gathered at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy in New Brunswick to take stock of New Jersey’s effort to support the Transit Village Initiative and transit-oriented development.

Parking Management Best Practices (2006)

By Todd Litman
(American Planning Association)

Parking Management Best Practices

The parking management strategies described in this book can help planners increase parking facility efficiency and reduce parking demand. Parking management offers an alternative to the traditional model of “predict and provide” parking planning, which has contributed to widespread auto dependency and urban sprawl. Instead of offering plentiful free parking, parking management provides optimal supply and pricing. Its benefits include support for transit-oriented development; reduced stormwater management costs, water pollution, and heat island effects; improved travel options for nondrivers; lower housing costs; and more livable communities. For planners who need to establish more accurate and flexible parking standards, this book is a blueprint for developing an integrated parking plan.


Paved Over: Surface Parking Lots or Opportunities for Tax-Generating, Sustainable Development? (2006)

By the Center for Neighborhood Technology —
Albert Benedict, Carrie Makarewicz, Jacky Grimshaw, Scott Bernstein

This study of the Chicago region examines the potential development benefits that could be achieved through more intensive use of surface parking near transit. Investigators compare current economic and social costs of surface parking lots near rail transit stations with the potential benefits if they were developed instead into mixed-use, pedestrian friendly, transit-oriented developments. Site-specific development scenarios were created for Metra Rail parking lots in nine Metra-served suburban communities in Cook County, Illinois. The estimates in these nine scenarios show how the parking lots, if used more efficiently, could generate substantial new residential units and commercial space, thus greatly increasing property tax revenues, estimated in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.




Parking Matters (2006)

By Urban Land Institute–ULI Northern New Jersey

This monograph describes the challenges of financing structured parking in New Jersey urban areas. It provides information on a wide range of issues affecting the dynamics of design, operations and financing of parking, and offers a “toolbox” of solutions that developers and policymakers may employ to both commence a project and close the funding gap that may arise in the early years of paying for parking garages in Smart Growth communities.

Who Lives in New Jersey Housing? (2006)

By David Listokin
with Ioan Voicu, William Dolphin and Matthew Camp
Center for Urban Policy Research, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

This publication, an update on national work done 20 years ago by Rutgers researchers, produces demographic information on household size and pupil generation that is:

  • current (incorporates the latest demographic data from the 2000 census)
  • New Jersey-specific (contains demographic data unique to the state and is field-tested in New Jersey)
  • incorporates the experience of emerging development categories, most notably TODs

Government and citizens are interested in these population figures because they affect the demand for public services and ultimately public expenditures. This study is not meant to provide the exact number of people or children who will move into a new residential development. Instead, it presents averages of the numbers of people, school-age children, and public school children who tend to locate in different types of development, such as single-family, multifamily, above- and below-median value homes, etc. The study is meant to start the informed dialogue about planning impacts of new development and will be a valuable reference for municipal officials, developers, planners and concerned residents.


TOD 101: Why Transit-Oriented Development And Why Now? (2007)

By Reconnecting America

Need a way to make the case for development near transit? Want to explain TOD to a new council member or community group? Reconnecting America and the Center for Transit-Oriented Development have published a new 24-page “picture” book highlighting the benefits of TOD and how it can help maintain the economic vitality of communities. The book cites numerous examples of new mixed-use development near new and existing transit hubs and provides short case studies evaluating development in the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor in northern Virginia and in Portland, Oregon’s Pearl District. Among the topics reviewed are the changing demography of the U.S. population, the need for efficient forms of development and the trade-off between housing and transportation costs. The publication is not intended to be a detailed examination of TOD or to provide a full accounting of its benefits. Rather, it is a good primer for those new to the subject and should whet the appetite of those wanting to vitalize their downtowns and/or make the most of their transit assets.


Getting Started with Brownfields–Key Issues and Opportunities: What Communities Need to Know (April 2006)
State and Local Non-Cash Tools and Strategies to Enhance a Brownfield Project’s Bottom Line (October 2006)
Local Brownfield Financing Tools: Structures and Strategies for Spurring Cleanup and Redevelopment (October 2006)

By Charles Bartsch and Barbara Wells
(Northeast-Midwest Institute)

Charles Bartsch and Barbara Wells have been examining brownfield redevelopment issues since the early 1990s and recently offered several articles outlining ways that localities can reclaim underutilized and contaminated properties and help bring these properties back into productive use. In “Getting Started with Brownfields,” Bartsch frames the issue, outlining the context, goals, and strategies affecting redevelopment. By addressing key concerns such as the ever-increasing cost of financing environmental cleanup, community involvement, and the need for Voluntary Cleanup Programs (VCPs), Bartsch makes a strong case that brownfield redevelopment can in fact be achieved. Furthermore, he contends that since the federal Brownfields Revitalization Act of 2002, there are many more ways for local and state officials to obtain financing and clean up old industrial sites that were not previously feasible. Citing nearly two dozen federal programs that can be used to aid in clean up, Bartsch outlines a bright future for communities looking for new economic opportunities through brownfields revitalization. Specifically, HUD’s Brownfield Economic Development Initiative (BEDI) program can be most beneficial for TOD planners, as funds from this program are not limited to specific brownfield sites, but can be used for overall economic development and community clean up. Thus a community can also improve the land around the brownfield site.

In “State and Local Non-Cash Tools and Strategies to Enhance a Brownfield Project’s Bottom Line,” Bartsch and Wells provide clearly itemized examples of innovative financing, development and planning strategies that cities can utilize to redevelop brownfield sites and other undeveloped property. Describing the three types of insurance options available to redevelopers, the authors outline ways to alleviate the common concerns of brownfields work: cost overrun and unexpected contaminations. Citing many examples from across the United States, Bartsch and Wells describe the effectiveness of 1) establishing redevelopment authorities, corporations, and partnerships, 2) fostering regional cooperation, 3) subdividing property, 4) facilitating property transfers and 5) establishing institutional or land use controls. A primer of sorts for those looking for successful redevelopment options, this report encourages brownfield development through clear examples.

The largest hurdle in recent years to advancement of brownfield development has been lack of innovative funding. In “Local Brownfield Financing Tools: Structures and Strategies for Spurring Cleanup and Redevelopment,” Bartsch and Wells provide a unique financial perspective on brownfield redevelopment and profile several familiar and less familiar tools used to support revitalization, such as tax increment financing, tax abatements, locally capitalized and operated revolving loan funds and general obligation bonds. Drawing on examples found throughout the US, it becomes clear that redevelopment can occur at brownfield locations through these succinctly described techniques. If one were to only look at one of these three documents it should be “State and Local Non-Cash Tools and Strategies to Enhance a Brownfield Project’s Bottom Line” as it provides the clearest examples of implemented development. These successful examples can improve future development and as such should be read by anyone interested in brownfields redevelopment as well as those associated with transit-oriented development.

Visualizing Density (2007)

By Julie Campoli and Alex S. MacLean
(Lincoln Institute of Land Policy)

People cite all sorts of reasons for not supporting transit-oriented development. One of the most prevalent is a professed aversion to density. The problem is that density is hard to conceive—and is most often talked about in a way that is difficult for the public and many professionals to envision—as ratios. Residential development will be quantified in dwelling units per acre while non-residential development depends on FARs—floor area ratios, or the gross floor area allowable divided by the net area of the site. Neither of these conventions is well-suited to communicating how the density of a project will affect a neighborhood or answer the all-important question to most of the public–how will that density look in our community?


Campoli and MacLean, through text and color photographs, demonstrate the tenets of good density—highlighting locations where density has developed organically or been handled well. This book grew out of a series of Lincoln Institute courses by Campoli, a landscape architect and planner, and MacLean, an aerial photographer. Through the book and accompanying website (available with free registration), they demonstrate how the visual impact of density is not always what it seems. Merely stating a specific unit ratio often fails to relate the actual impact of proposed development or how projects of similar densities can ultimately have much different impacts on their communities. Visitors to the website can view the effect of different densities and examine how higher density projects can be more easily incorporated into existing neighborhoods. There is even an online game (Building Blocks) where users can create their own neighborhood by arranging houses, streets, yards and parks to create an environment that satisfies their needs and achieves a desired density.

Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change (2007)

By Reid Ewing, Keith Bartholomew, Steve Winkelman, Jerry Walters and Don Chen
with Barbara McCann and David Goldberg
The Urban Land Institute, 2007

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) has issued this report to address growth and developmental strategies designed to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. “Growing Cooler…” makes the case for reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) as an important and neglected component of GHG reduction. The high level of energy use (and resulting emissions) attributed to the massive growth in VMT alone makes smart growth and transit-oriented development policies increasingly important as part of an overall solution, together with vehicle efficiency and fuel content changes, to reduce GHG emissions. Both regional growth simulations and project-level simulations point to density, especially infill development, as a key component in plans to reduce VMT and CO2 emissions. The report contains useful policy recommendations for federal, state, and local governments. On the federal level, the authors advocate new Green-TEA legislation to bring about greater GHG accountability, fund existing infrastructure repairs, and orient transportation agency funding structures toward performance-oriented GHG reduction goals. States are asked to set goals for VMT reduction and meet these goals by reducing single-occupant commutes and by providing grant and technical assistance to local VMT reduction plans. Changes to development rules and approvals, such as smart growth tax incentives and ending the competitive “Fiscalization of Land Use,” are ways to address these goals on the local stage. These recommendations provide useful starting points for policy discussions at all levels.





Bursting the Bubble: Determining Transit-Oriented Development’s Walkable Limits (2007)

By Brian Canepa, Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates
Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 1992
Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2007, pp. 28–34

Canepa challenges the “half-mile circle” that currently defines the limit of transit-oriented development by examining new research that cites variability in this assumption. The report underscores the importance of higher pedestrian levels of service (LOS) in expanding the walkable limits of TOD. Along with street connectivity, Canepa observes that the presence of “an aesthetic urban setting” is the greatest factor in increasing the distance that transit users will walk. He cites smaller block size, an abundance of street trees, and graffiti-free sidewalks as factors contributing to attractive streetscapes and longer walking distances. When such improvements are made, Canepa writes, the area of intensive development can be tripled in size. He also states that such improvements should be a key consideration in comprehensive transit-oriented planning.

Strengths and Weakness of Bus in Relation to Transit Oriented Development (2005)

By Graham Currie
Institute of Transport Studies, Monash University, Australia

Currie offers a frank assessment of the strengths and weakness of bus transit-oriented development (BTOD) and discusses many of the issues confronting BTOD. These issues include flexibility, parking, permanence, service frequency, and unfamiliarity with this form of TOD.  He observes that while bus rapid transit has strong and relatively unexplored promise for TOD in high density regions, suburban local bus transport—which Currie terms “lower order” bus services—shows only limited, though still positive, potential for TOD. Currie asserts that several challenges must be addressed if BTOD is to reach its potential. Bus travel must be de-stigmatized, the lack of transit agency staffing dedicated to BTOD must be addressed and the absence of interest and/or capacity in the bus industry must be overcome before BTOD can be a strong development strategy. Currie also highlights the issue of “scale dilution” as it affects BTOD. Local bus transit, serving a large number of stops, provides only limited support to development activity. However BRT service, like rail, tends to concentrate such activity. He notes though that the large number of bus stop locations creates greater choice for riders and supports development throughout a region.

Click here for a pdf of the paper.

Land Development at Selected Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Stations (April 2008)

By Martin E. Robins, Senior Policy Fellow and Jan S. Wells, Ph.D., Research Associate
Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center, Rutgers University

In June 2006, Robins and Wells published their first study examining the booming land development market spurred by the opening of NJ TRANSIT’s Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (HBLR), the 20.6-mile, 23-station transit route connecting six communities along the western edge of the Hudson River. In that study they documented development at a cluster of stations in Jersey City and one on Hoboken’s west side.  This new study revisits two of the previously examined stations, the Essex Street-Jersey Avenue station cluster in Jersey City and Hoboken’s 9th Street station. In addition, the researchers expanded their investigation to document housing built or under construction near Bayonne’s 34th Street station, the Port Imperial station in Weehawken and the Bergenline Avenue station in Union City.

The study found more than 10,000 new housing units with a value of $5 billion were either completed or under construction since HBLR began operating in 2000. Even given the 2007-2008 housing bust, New Jersey’s “Gold Coast” continues to attract substantial interest from the development community and homebuyers.

See above for the earlier study.





Design Charrettes for Sustainable Communities (2008)

By Patrick M. Condon
Island Press

This easily accessible and well-organized guide is an excellent resource for anyone interested in introducing charrettes, or design workshops, into the community planning process.  Charrettes are intensive, often multi-day, efforts wherein community leaders, developers, public officials and the public collaborate to produce a unified vision or plan.  Condon stresses that the charrette format, with its broad array of inputs, is essential to creating sustainable communities in the face of divergent problems.  The book outlines charrette theory as it applies to “visioning charrettes” (explorations of what is possible) and “implementation charrettes” (which produce plans that can be put into practice with or without changes in zoning or other regulation.)  Condon outlines practical techniques and guidelines for orchestrating productive design charrettes, focusing on topics such as scheduling and objective organization, making this text particularly useful. He provides step-by-step instructions for stakeholder workshops and breakouts as well as numerous models of successful concept plans. Twenty years of experience in the public and private sectors have provided Condon with considerable charrette experience. This experience has allowed him to identify common stumbling blocks in both the planning and execution stages of the charrette.  As this form of public planning grows more popular, Design Charrettes for Sustainable Communities stands out as a practical, well-written, and well-reasoned guide to be utilized by planning professionals and non-proessionals alike.

What About Our Schools? (2008)

By Heidi Gorman and Robert Galvin


Urbanomics, a respected firm specializing in fiscal and impact analysis, has completed a new study examining the rate of school children generated by transit-oriented development (TOD). This report, “What About Our Schools?” addresses—and dispels—one of the most common public misperceptions hindering TOD proposals. The study was commissioned by InterCap Holdings, LLC, the sponsor of the "Edison Exchange"—a series of developer-sponsored planning meetings organized by InterCap to examine the redevelopment of the firm's property, located adjacent to the Edison station.

Urbanomics studied over 500 distinct TOD projects, singling out 32 locations that are characteristically similar to the Edison project according to demographic and school performance indicators. Projects included in the study varied in terms of housing types, including both rental and condominium projects, as well as urban and suburban settings, such as Portland, OR and Silver Spring, MD. The findings conclude that the number of school children generated from comparable TODs is exceptionally low: 3 school children per 100 units on average. This figure is consistent with data in the updated report, Who Lives in New Jersey Housing, published by the Center for Urban Policy Research at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. See above for our review and a link to the report.