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Case Studies of Transit-Oriented Development

Analyzes 12 cases of TOD to develop policy and planning recommendations for Seattle


The BART system, built in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s, was the first regional rail system to be built in the U.S. in more than 50 years. Since then, urban rail systems have been completed in ten cities on the West Coast and in Vancouver, Canada. These cities have had varying levels of success in attracting transit-oriented development (TOD). Seattle can learn from these experiences, so it does not repeat mistakes others made and takes advantage of opportunities presented.

To understand more about what tools work best, this paper presents detailed case studies of representative transit-oriented development projects throughout North America. Lessons from these case studies and the implications for Seattle are discussed. These lessons will help evaluate what actions makes most sense for the city and its neighborhoods.

The twelve cases of transit-oriented development were selected because they represent com­parable light rail station types and/or physical settings or because certain types of implemen­tation tools were used to make transit-oriented development happen. In looking for compa­rable examples of transit-oriented development in North American cities, specific station area characteristics were evaluated: whether the station is underground, at-grade or elevated, how many people use the station, surrounding urban form and land use, and what other trans­portation connections is provided. The cases selected provide valuable insights that will help the City ensure that station area plans meet the City’s goals and avoid the mistakes that have limited transit-oriented development elsewhere.