Towards A Happier, Healthier and Economically Sustainable City – A Policy Brief on Transit-Oriented Development

Table of Contents

Introduction

What is Transit Oriented Development

Executive Summary

The Scope of Problem

Need for Transit Oriented Development

Gaps in the Existing Policies

Use of TOD Policy

Policy Alternatives

Existing Transit-Oriented Development Policy

Existing Calgary Transportation Plan

Existing Municipal Development Plan

Policy Recommendations:

Integrating Transportation and Land-Use policies

Creating a central development agency

Finance

Market-based decisions

Reducing Approval Times

Heritage Connections

Infrastructure Upgrades

Influence Zone

Multi-modal Connectivity incorporating future technologies

Pedestrian and Cyclist Focused

Improving the Public Realm

Parking

Public Education & Community Engagement

Strategic Station Locations

Conclusion

Appendix – 1

Traffic and Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)

Appendix – 2

Transit – Oriented Development Program

References

Introduction

The policy brief on Transit Oriented Development is proposed to identify gaps if any and aid in enhancing and improving the existing TOD policies using the City of Calgary model. The implementation of Transit-oriented development is proposed to integrate development with the transit facilities and to improve the overall ridership, boosting the economy while maintaining development and economic sustainability. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

Following objectives are addressed in this policy brief:

  1. Study the existing Transit-Oriented Development Policy
  2. Understand and analyze the requirements for implementation of Transit Oriented Development
  3. Minimize non-transit-oriented development in the city

Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats to TOD

  1. The strength of the TOD lies in its capacity to be a useful urbanization tool and assist in a planned and well-defined form of the city. 
  2. The Weakness of TOD lies in the costs involved in creating such infrastructure
  3. Opportunities presented by TOD can present as a sustainable form of development for a city.
  4. The threat to TOD lies in its potential costs may outweigh its intended benefits.

What is Transit Oriented Development

Transit Oriented Development or TOD is defined as a high density mixed use development within a walkable distance of a transit station in an urban environment. TOD is linked to various advantages including social, economic and development sustainability and is seen as an alternative to suburban sprawl and reducing automobile dependency. (Cervero, 2004)

Executive Summary

The Transit Oriented Development policy brief highlights the existing policies and regulations related to TOD and proposes recommendations that will facilitate intended sustainable developments around transit locations such as existing or proposed LRT / BRT stations.

Transit Oriented Development is generally focused on creating high density, walkable and mixed-use developments around the transit nodes; these help in revitalizing the communities with better opportunities and increased services. (Cervero, 2004)

It is not the transit, or the technology used in transit that propels development, but the effective and innovative use of the surrounding space that transpires development, apart from strategically locating these stations.

Adding these additional objectives to the existing ones will help in aiding development in the TOD area.

  1. Market-based decisions according more freedom for the developer to decide the mixed-use development including but not limited to parking requirements.
  2. Integrating transportation and land-use policies
  3. Making cities more pedestrian friendly and walkable so as to have easy access to the transit hubs
  4. Multi-modal station along with multi-modal station area development emphasizing on active transportation. 
  5. Increasing density along the transit corridor and transit station area with appropriate mix of amenities. 
  6. Affordable Housing is a part of the development
  7. Heritage Connections
  8. Tax breaks along with PPP model
  9. Creating a central land development agency tasked with identifying, procuring and developing lands along the transit corridors and hubs, something similar to CMLC developing the East Village in Calgary. 
  10. Strategically Locating Transit Stations
  11. Educating the public about the benefits of TOD and its long-term benefits to the city.

Understanding that the people are the most critical factor to consider while developing TOD’s including Transport behaviour of Individuals, which changes through the lifecycle of Individuals should be appropriately assessed to understand transit ridership and their needs. 

Eventually, TOD should be based on 5P’s (Oregon Metro, 2016)

  1. People
  2. Place
  3. Physical Form – block size
  4. Performance of LRT
  5. Pedestrian and Bicycle Connectivity

Other cities such as Oregon Metro are facilitating Transit-oriented development by Infill, Planning, Connecting and Partnering. (Refer Appendix 2)

The Scope of Problem

Need for Transit Oriented Development

Focusing development around transit facilities has become a significant way to improve accessibility, support community and regional goals of enhancing the quality of life and support the financial success of transit investment. The experiences of a new generation of transit systems highlight the influential role that transit investments play in channelling urban development. Benefits attributable to transit-oriented development (TOD) initiatives include improved air quality, preservation of open space, pedestrian-friendly environments, increased ridership and revenue, reduction of urban sprawl, and reorientation of urban development patterns around both rail and bus transit facilities. (Cervero, 2004)

A study conducted by Transport research board on effects of TOD is mentioned in Appendix -1 for proving the positive impact of TOD on people.

Gaps in the Existing Policies

Transit Oriented Development has been a significant policy objective as it is reflecting in various policies and guidelines including MDP and CTP. However real development has not followed despite these policy guidelines. (City of Calgary, 2017)

Gaps including no specific funding model and the fact that all forms of developments take time and can take years for new communities to build out. (City of Calgary, 2017)

Challenges including community opposition to redevelopment and identifying parcels of land along with land-owner expectations and cost of required infrastructure upgrades are not supporting the required development. (City of Calgary, 2017)

Better awareness and understanding of these gaps, the challenges faced within The City, and by the private market, and developing a strategy to remove or overcome these is what is currently needed to deliver TOD on Greenline and throughout the city. (City of Calgary, 2017)

Use of TOD Policy

TOD Policy is expected to help and assist planners, developers, applicants and communities on a planning application within a Transit Station area. Station Area Plans will supplement the Area Structure Plans (ASP) and Area Redevelopment Plans (ARP) and help define new land use objectives. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

TOD Policy Guidelines will also guide decisions on Land Use re-designations in station areas that identify appropriate uses for such uses of land. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

Policy Alternatives

Existing Transit-Oriented Development Policy

The city of Calgary has existing TOD guidelines that was adopted by the city council in 2004 provides direction for developing areas within 600m of a Transit Station. The guideline aims in creating a mixed-use, higher density and walkable developments within station areas thereby optimizing the existing transit infrastructure.

The TOD guideline contains six objectives for the station areas: (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

  1. Ensure transit supportive land uses
  2. Increase density around Transit Stations
  3. Create a pedestrian-oriented design
  4. Make each station area a “place.”
  5. Manage parking, bus and vehicular
  6. Plan in context with local communities

The guideline also contains development initiatives of “Advancing Smart Growth” as a key priority for the City of Calgary, and the following principles of Smart Growth promote TOD: (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

  1. Walkable Neighborhoods
  2. Distinctive and attractive communities with a sense of place
  3. Transit Use
  4. Transportation choices
  5. Mixed land use
  6. Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities
  7. Creating a range of housing opportunities and options. 

Some of the policies contained within “The Calgary Plan (1998), the Calgary transportation plan (1995) and the sustainable suburbs study (1995) which support TOD and improve the quality of the environment in communities are: (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

  1. Amending land use classification to encourage appropriate new office development in transit supportive areas.
  2. Encouraging new housing close to transit facilities within mixed use with pedestrian mobility.
  3. Encouraging public and private development for compatible land uses, such as residential, employment and commercial activities which in turn will improve the vibrancy and utility of the LRT stations. 
  4. Avoiding speculation and instabilities near LRT stations by proposing Station area plans, Area redevelopment plans, and clarifying the council’s intention for development opportunities.

Transit Station Planning Areas

TOD Policy Guidelines defines Transit Station Area as a walkable distance of approximately 600m, as such development of lands within this radius will be required to follow these guidelines. Acknowledging the fact that the primary users of transit are pedestrians, the emphasis is laid on the walkability and connectivity of LRT stations by bus service and cycle/pedestrian connections and improving the quality of such connections. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

Transit Supportive Land use

TOD Policy Guideline identifies land uses that encourages transit use and improves transportation network efficiency. This land uses characterized by high residential and office densities, generating pedestrian traffic, encouraging reverse flow travel on LRT, extending the hours of activity throughout the day and week and promotes travel time outside the peak hours. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

These transit supportive land uses include: (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

  1. Employment uses such as Call centers, commercial offices, light manufacturing, research and development.
  2. Educational Institutions
  3. Medium to High density residential
  4. Pedestrian focused retail such as street retail and shopping centers with strong pedestrian connections.
  5. Services such as Hotels, restaurants, Medical clinics, fitness centers, and childcare.
  6. Entertainment and recreation such as libraries, movie theatres and recreational centers.

Mix land uses

TOD Policy guideline suggests a mix of residential, employment and supporting retail and service uses within a station area. Encouraging a compact and walkable development which could be integrated either vertically or horizontally within a building or in multiple buildings throughout the planning area. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

Limiting non-transit supportive land uses

Non-transit supportive land uses are characterized by automobile dependency leading to low-density form, which consumes a large amount of land and utilizes extensive surface area parking. These land uses are not pedestrian friendly and lack vibrancy or activities beyond the extended hours or on weekends. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

Some of the uses that are identified as non-transit supportive are: (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

  1. Auto Oriented business that requires large areas with low densities such as automotive repair and service, car dealerships, car washes, gas/service stations and commercial surface parking.
  2. Industrial such as warehouses, bottle depot and outdoor storages
  3. Low-density retail such as big box retails and large grocery stores
  4. Low-density residential with single detached houses on large lots

Increase Density while minimizing impacts

TOD guideline proposes increasing the density around Transit Stations by locating highest density uses and building forms such as apartment and office towers as close as possible to the LRT stations. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

The Policy encourages keeping highest densities adjacent to the TOD station while creating a transition between higher and lower densities by stepping down building heights from LRT station building. These objectives could be achieved by proper edge treatments of compatible building scale and using transit facilities, public spaces and roadways as organizing elements. Shadow studies may be used to ensure proper building massing and minimizing shadowing impacts. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

Create Pedestrian Oriented Design

The TOD policy guideline recommends creating a walkable station area using a well-defined comfortable and direct safe pedestrian linkages to and from all transit stations. Following guidelines are recommended: (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

  1. Good quality of the pedestrian connection is identified with having shortest routes, continuous and barrier-free, safe, easily navigable and designed for the local climate.
  2. Identifying primary and secondary pedestrian routes for better connectivity. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)
  3. Grouping of buildings to create a compact development allowing for easy access to pedestrians between buildings along with framing pedestrian spaces for easy identification. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)
  4. Integrating public systems such as Primary and secondary routes, bicycle routes, roads, sidewalks, overpasses and underpasses, public open spaces, transit stations and bus stops to create pedestrian comfort and network all travel modes within the station area. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)
  5. Locating pedestrian-oriented uses such as retail, restaurants, outdoor cafes on the ground floor. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)
  6. Building design and architecture to be pedestrian focused by orienting doorways and windows to the street level, creating a visual interest to the pedestrian and stepping back of higher floors of the buildings to create a more human scale and reduce shadow impacts. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)
  7. Incorporating climate and weather protection such as awnings, building projections, landscape, bus stops that increase pedestrian comfort. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

 

Make Each Station Area a Place

The TOD policy guideline recommends developing each station area as a vibrant mix-use hub and a community gateway with a unique environment. To achieve these objectives, the following recommendations are being made: (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

  1. Emphasizing essential buildings such as LRT stations, large commercial and prominent residential buildings with distinctive features and rooflines to create a landmark. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)
  2. Integrating new street layouts with sidewalks on both sides should be oriented towards the transit station with an attempt to creating vistas or to terminate views with landmark features. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)
  3. Developing Public and private open spaces creatively to emphasize the station as a public place and giving the community a gathering point as well as providing for a comfortable and interesting waiting / drop off area. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)
  4. Focusing on local communities by developing the station area as a destination including gathering places, shopping, and services apart from transit connections. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

Manage Parking, Bus and Vehicular Traffic

The objective to reduce automobile trips by providing multiple mobility options through transit supportive land uses and increased density, the guideline recommends the following: (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

  1. Reduction in required parking along with parking relaxation may be considered instead of shared parking, proximity to Park n ‘ Ride, secure bike parking and on-street parking within TOD station area. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)
  2. Placing the parking in appropriate locations such as rear or side of the building for better connectivity and pedestrian comfort. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)
  3. Parking forms that complement pedestrian nature by breaking the surface parking into smaller cells, ensuring direct pedestrian traffic and keeping the street level facades active including commercial uses. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)
  4. Strategies that encourage transportation demand with local shuttle services, car-pooling, flex-time hours, bike/ walk to work and to work with businesses to encourage transit ridership. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)
  5. Integrating transit circulation and drop off zones with bus access and drop off sites that create a direct connection to the station and provides a more comfortable transition between different modes of transport. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)
  6. Allowing for the redevelopment of surface parking or other development. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

Plan in Context with Local Communities

TOD Policy guideline recommends working with local communities for their benefits and utilizing their knowledge on services or amenities needed to create a variety of housing and a more walkable environment. Following recommendations are made: (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

  1. Participation of local landowners and communities in station area plan planning and encouraging developers to consult them for a common understanding or important issues and understanding existing housing forms, key pedestrian destinations and parking management concerns, etc. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)
  2. Providing community needed services and amenities to support community demographics, employment options, retail and personal services and public space, etc. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)
  3. Development should complement local context to enhance the local character and provide with a sensitive interface between existing residential areas and new TOD area while integrating pedestrian systems in the developments. (Land Use Planning & Policy, 2004)

Existing Calgary Transportation Plan

Calgary Transportation Plan (CTP) discusses assessing the impacts of TOD by Mobility Assessment and Plan (MAP). A MAP will assess the alignment of the proposed development with the essential components of TOD, including street infrastructure, alignment with city plans, improvement of pedestrian and bicycle routes, parking supply and demand, vehicle and truck access, community & stakeholder engagements and phasing of development. (The City of Calgary, 2012)

Existing Municipal Development Plan

Municipal Development Plan mentions a transit supportive land use framework with an objective that optimizes population and job growth within walking distance of transit. (The City of Calgary, 2009)

MDP mentions four key land use elements that are critical to supporting quality transit services such as density, diversity, design and distance. (The City of Calgary, 2009)

The Bylaw 19P2017 in MDP mentions locating transit-supportive density and uses including higher density residential and employment developments within Activity Centers and Main Streets supported by Transit Network. (The City of Calgary, 2009)

Other Policies in MDP encourage increasing densities within 400 meters of transit stops, locating land use that generates counter-flow and redevelopment of underutilized and brownfield sites. (The City of Calgary, 2009)

MDP encourages transit use by suggesting a mix of land uses, managing traffic to reduce conflicts between pedestrian and vehicles and to develop new mobility management strategies to reduce vehicle demand and parking. (The City of Calgary, 2009)

Policy Recommendations:

Identifying the gaps in TOD and the present market conditions, it is imperative that a much more holistic and practical approach be taken that ensures TOD achieves its objectives and these should be Calgary specific as each city has its characteristics and dynamics.  

Following recommendations can be made to further aide TOD:

Integrating Transportation and Land-Use policies

Creating a central development agency

 

Finance

  • Working out a practical model that supports TOD is based on identifying Financial Gaps and encouraging developers towards a PPP (Public Private Partnership) in TOD identified zones.
  • Tax breaks or tax incentives that encourage developers to develop parcels of land. 

Market-based decisions

  1. Freedom for the developer to decide the mixed-use as per current or future market demands and not limited or enforced by planning guidelines and 
  2. removing restrictions such as building heights in TOD areas.

Reducing Approval Times

  1. Almost all development projects are time-dependent and allowing for faster processing times for approvals will make TOD areas more lucrative for developers to develop.
  • Transit Area Stations or TOD zones benefit a larger group of people including the economy of the whole city, and hence once the development policies are approved by the council further delays resulting in objections from Individuals or communities should be avoided by use of appropriate legislation, protecting the developer and improving the development time cycle.

Heritage Connections

  1. Connecting communities with their heritage and planning TOD including the location of stations that encourages development that acknowledges the history of the place.

Infrastructure Upgrades

  1. Prioritizing Infrastructure upgrades near TOD, as per the existing policies that encourage the developers to utilize the potential for development.

Influence Zone

  1. High Compact Density – the area surrounding the Transit station, typically 600m to 800m walkable distance should be designated as a High-Density Mixed-Use development. 
  2. Minimum lot size should be ascertained for High Rise and High density as a part of TOD.
  3. Housing in the Influence Zone should be for all economic sections of the society including 18% affordable housing and limiting the area of individual units. (Govt. of India, 2017)

Multi-modal Connectivity incorporating future technologies

  1. Adding additional lanes to existing road networks for high occupancy vehicles, active transport options, automated vehicle lanes, car share lanes, etc. will aide in creating a truly multi-modal connected network. 
  2. Future technology and use of it in mobility will have a much bigger impact on the way we move in our cities, hence providing space for these technologies to become a part of our future development is important. 
  3. Prioritizing the hierarchy of connectivity with Pedestrians, Bicycles, feeder bus, drop / pickup zones followed by park and ride facility. (Govt. of India, 2017)
  4. On-street parking in the Influence Zone should be avoided or limited to promote the use of alternative modes of transport and for using the space more effectively for development. (Govt. of India, 2017)
  5. Dedicated Connecting Corridors or +15 pedestrian+ cyclist bridges that are open and accessible to all, which connects the transit station with the development and the connection points should be incorporated as part of the strategy. These pedestrian corridors can be multi-modal with future mobility technology, allowing for changes in the technology.
  6. Provisions for direct connections from drop off zones to the LRT station keeping in mind future technology of self-driving cars or cabs. 

Pedestrian and Cyclist Focused

  1. Smaller blocks within the TOD Influence Zone helps in reducing the walking distance and increases connectivity. (Govt. of India, 2017)
  2. Pedestrian pathways should be 2.0 m wide, seamless with no level differences anywhere, including cross walks. 
  3. Traffic Calming measures such as reducing the speed of traffic to aid pedestrians and cyclists should be included, such as one-way streets with dedicated bicycle pathways, speed limits of 20Km/h, using tabletop crossings and designated right of way for pedestrians and cyclists. (Govt. of India, 2017)

Improving the Public Realm

  1. Street furniture, tree buffers, water fountains, easy / priority road crossings, opportunities to interact, active edges, and many such small and effective measures should become part of the public realm. 
  2. People like sunny weather, hence providing opportunities for people to walk in the sun, while providing appropriate plaza spaces for them to sit and enjoy the outdoors and making these spaces as outdoor social meeting places will be quite effective in encouraging people to walk. 
  3. Encouraging pedestrian movements, it is advisable to support retail and small mom & pop stores at the ground level, creating a healthy interaction.
  4. Use of clear glass up to 90% in storefronts should be mandated in the retail stores.
  5. Small retailers and providing dedicated and sheltered spaces for street vendors will provide the much-needed eyes on the street. (Govt. of India, 2017)

Parking

  1. On street parking and surface parking should be avoided within the influence and limited to very short-term parking, such as delivery trucks. (Govt. of India, 2017)
  2. Reducing the need for the minimum number of parking in the development zone and allowing the developer to understand the market and make decisions, will significantly enhance the efficiency of the space used.
  3. Buildings with no or minimal parking should be permitted within the influence zone.

Public Education & Community Engagement

Educating people about the benefits of TOD and gaining the trust of the communities to avoid the conflicts associated with TOD and working together for better understanding and needs. Engaging the local communities to better understand their needs and encouraging public participation will help in creating a more inclusive and equitable neighborhoods. 

Strategic Station Locations

Locating LRT stations more strategically that provides the maximum benefit to people via the development of the area. It is noted that the location of stations is based on many factors that are deemed more important than the need of the people. People should be made a priority in deciding the location of the stations or transit hubs. 

Conclusion

Transit Oriented Development or Transit supportive development policies will help in creating a more sustainable and inclusive future cities. The need to integrate land-use and transportation policies which helps in creating diverse, high density neighborhoods with appropriate amenities while providing easy access to high quality public transport is the need of the hour. Moving away from automobile dependency will be a key factor in controlling the growth of our cities, making them sustainable and improving the overall quality of life. 

The recommendations made in this policy brief are few and there is a need to further evaluate these ideas and suggestions on a case by case basis as each city is different with differing goals and ideologies. It is important to note that a policy cannot and should not be used if it is successful in another city, without proper evaluation of its success. 

Appendix – 1

Traffic and Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)

Four cities in the U.S. were the subject of a study* of the travel behaviour of residents in TOD areas. Transportation data was collected at 17 TOD areas in the Philadelphia, Portland, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco metropolitan areas. (Transport Research Board, 2008)

The study revealed that people living in TOD areas drive less often than people living in conventional developments and require less parking. (Transport Research Board, 2008)

Over a typical weekday period, the 17 sites averaged 44 percent fewer automobile trips than equivalent developments as estimated by the Institute of Transportation Engineers Trip Generation Manual. Also, the demand for parking spaces was approximately half that of conventional developments. (Transport Research Board, 2008)

When TOD areas include mixed uses (i.e., employment, residential and commercial), there are additional benefits when travellers make trips in different directions (not just in the peak direction), at different times of day (outside peak periods) and using existing infrastructure. (Transport Research Board, 2008)

Appendix – 2

Transit – Oriented Development Program

References

Cervero, R. M.-H.-H. (2004). Transit-Oriented Development in the United States: Experiences, Challenges, and Prospects. Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 102. Washington: Transportation Research Board, Washington.

City of Calgary. (2017). Framework for Transit Oriented Development Implementation Strategy. Calgary: Green Line LRT.

Curtis, C. (2012). Delivering the ‘D’ in transit-oriented development: Examining the town planning challenge. The Journal of Transport and Land Use, 83-99.

Govt. of India. (2017). National Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Policy. India: Ministry of Urban Development.

Land Use Planning & Policy. (2004). Transit Oriented Development Policy Guidelines. Calgary: The City of Calgary.

Mcdaniel, Z., & Broadhurst, M. (2013). MDP-CTP: Three Years of Change. Retrieved 2 25, 2019, from https://trid.trb.org/view.aspx?id=1263282

Oregon Metro. (2016). 2016 Strategic Plan executive summary. Oregon: Oregon Metro.

The City of Calgary. (2009). Municipal Development Plan. Calgary: The City of Calgary.

The City of Calgary. (2012). Calgary Transportation Plan. Calgary: The City of Calgary.

Transport Research Board. (2008). Effects of TOD on Housing, Parking, and Travel. TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 128: .

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