High-capacity transit service isn’t the only ingredient needed for the areas around a transit station to become great transit-oriented neighborhoods. Capital Metro considers the following four dimensions when assessing the readiness of neighborhoods for TOD. See our Typology and Implementation pages for more details about how Capital Metro is measuring readiness for TOD in Austin and how various stakeholders can help it succeed.
TOD requires high levels of multimodal connectivity into and inside adjacent neighborhoods. Frequent and reliable transit service is necessary, as is easy and safe movement along sidewalks and bikeways for non-motorized system users. While not a primary focus, access to main vehicular routes is also supportive of development, as is convenient access to the region’s employment base.
Areas exhibiting strong real estate fundamentals are likely to evolve into TOD more quickly than those missing key markers. A strong resident and employment base provides a captive audience for both ridership as well as the variety of land uses. Development begets other development – successful “pioneering” real estate projects trigger other new projects, and investment in established neighborhoods encourages other owners to maintain their properties and look for opportunities for infill development or redevelopment.
Development or redevelopment as TOD is only possible to the extent property is available, and in quantities of practically developable size and shape. However, the principle for maximizing property use, and encouraging a rich mix of uses at higher densities around a transit station than perhaps historically seen, means that available land can be carved out of places that are not immediately obvious: surface parking lots, publicly owned campuses, and underutilized or vacant /abandoned properties ready for retrofit. This development is most important at the corners immediately around the transit station in order to establish precedent.
Enabling land use controls, community plans and infrastructure investment policies must be defined consistently with the TOD vision for station areas to allow development to unfold as desired. Without the underlying zoning, subdivision regulations, land use plans and other administrative tools in place, the market may not be able to implement by right the mix of uses, form and scale that are indicative of TOD. Likewise, how municipal government prioritizes and executes investments in civil infrastructure, such as streets maintenance, sidewalk repair, bike path connectivity and provision of water and sewer, has a real influence on how and where development or redevelopment happens, and it makes sense for plans and capital improvements to be coordinated.