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What makes transit-oriented development successful?

loop standaloneTransit-oriented development (TOD) is an ideal approach to community development for a number of reasons that are economic, social, and environmental in nature. But is TOD ideal for every community? A recent study by the Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD) has mapped out a formula for determining the likelihood of success for TOD in individual communities. Five essential measurements comprise the pentagon formula that analyzes a community’s “transit orientation.”

Places – – nearby amenities such as restaurants, retail, grocery stores, etc.

Proximity – – travel time and distance to employment hubs or a central business district

People – – population density

Physical Form – – block size, street layout, and similar factors that affect walkability

De(P)endence – – ownership of and reliance on private vehicles

The examples below, based on CTOD’s study of transit stations in Pittsburgh, illustrate how the pentagon formula functions and what a car-dependent (Casswell) versus transit-oriented (Chatham Square) area looks like when analyzed using this method.








The pentagon image demonstrates the link between these factors in determining an area’s transit orientation and how likely it is that new TOD will succeed in reducing reliance on private vehicles. It can also aid planners and developers in deciding the best locations for investment and what types of improvement are needed in different areas.

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