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Aug 04, 2011
Urban Planning & Design

Transit Oriented Development and CPT (Part 1 of 3)

Post by hulia-j

Most readers understand the concept of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) – a planning approach that encourages transit ridership through increased development around transit stations. TODs are designed to create higher density, mixed use, walkable communities. In this way the day-to-day needs met by shops, cafes, and entertainment venues are located within the neighbourhood (usually near the station), and access to a rapid public transport network is maximised. Despite mixed successes, TODs are often touted as one of the great solutions to urban mobility.

TOD designs tend to occur within 800 metres of the transit station, which is considered the distance that people are willing to walk or cycle to reach public transport. However, depending on the transport mode and the ‘walking culture’ of the area, this distance can vary between 400-1200 metres.

Typically, TODs are associated with streetcars, LRT and heavy rail, although the developing world has implemented successful BRT TODs as well. A few examples of CPT and TOD also exist. The Metrocable in Medellin, Columbia utilises elements of TOD for the Linea L & J lines. The Metrocable in Caracas, Venezuela integrates retail, commercial and social services into customised CPT stations, although it appears that no coordinated development has occurred outside of these stations.

What is important to remember is that (for the most part) efficient public transport spurs development regardless of TOD plans. TODs simply try to offer an assurance that development will occur in a planned, coordinated way over a shorter timeframe (often determined by investors.) TODs can be master planned or guided redevelopment. Planning regulations are often tweaked to allow different land uses and higher densities. Property developers demand certainty to the type of development that is expected in order to reduce business risk. TODs usually involve a number of stakeholders and in some instances are implemented via innovative PPP arrangements. However, TODs are not always successful as there are multiple internal and external factors at play.

It is also frustrating that the very factor that make TODs possible – rapid transport systems – can also significantly hinder their success and have negative impacts on the adjoining land and people. Basically, ‘at grade’ transit presents a problem to the urban form; it bisects it, it divides it, it makes it unsafe for pedestrians. Tracks takes up valuable land. Buses are noisy and generate pollutants. Heavy rail is even noisier (unless underground) and produces vibration effects. These nuisances impact properties adjoining the infrastructure and can compromise the whole TOD model – which values land close to public transport.

TRB research finds that property prices are compromised as close as 200 metres from a transit line. For this reason, the 200-400 metre quadrant (from the transit station) in a TOD tends to be the most sought after by residents and therefore most valued. What should be the most desirable, useful and practical land – that closest to the transport station – is not maximised to its full potential. This is a serious issue and one that compromises the very outcomes TOD seek to achieve – liveability and sustainability.

What opportunities exist for CPT and TODs? I will tackle this issue next week in Part 2 of TODs and CPT.

This post was written by Ryan O’Connor, a planning and transportation professional based in Wellington, New Zealand. Ryan has been involved with Creative Urban Projects since March 2010.



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