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TOD 202: Station Area Planning

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Station Area Planning: How To Make Great Transit-Oriented Places (2008)

This is the first in our TOD 202 series of guidebooks to promote best practices in transit-oriented development. Following publication of “Why Transit-Oriented Development and Why Now?” our TOD 101 guidebook, we realized there is a need for more in-depth analysis and discussion for TOD practitioners. This 202 manual is intended to help with simplifying the complex decisions that surround planning for TOD projects and station areas by providing details about the scales of development likely to occur in different places, as well as station area planning principles and TOD plan checklists.

The manual begins with a discussion of seven "TOD place types," followed by a self-diagnostic questionnaire to help identify a particular station area place type in a TOD typology we have applied and refined in several regions around the U.S. There are also typologies of buildings and of the kinds of open spaces sometimes included in transit-oriented neighborhoods. All of these typologies can help inform decisions by enabling the planning partners to visualize and talk about the possibilities for station areas. They are intended to be suggestive only and not a complete list of options.

The second section is a discussion of station area planning principles, and includes TOD plan checklists for each principle to help guide station area planning efforts. Again, the goal is to help all the planning partners better understand the potential outcomes at the beginning of the planning process. The ultimate goal is to facilitate the creation of high-performing TOD projects and great neighborhoods.

This manual is based on a station area planning manual that Reconnecting America’s Center for TOD created for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) in the San Francisco Bay Area with the help of Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates. MTC has a TOD policy that requires new transit projects to meet certain thresholds in terms of the number of housing units planned or built within walking distance of stations. The TOD policy is intended to make regional transit investments as efficient and cost-effective as possible by requiring and encouraging transit-supportive development to promote ridership. To support implementation of the TOD policy MTC has also made funding available for station area plans to help communities think about and plan for changes in land use, access, circulation, pedestrian-friendly design and parking policies.