A diverse group of people – some walking, mingling, and sitting around a MetroRail station at Plaze Saltillo

Equitable Transit Oriented Development (ETOD)

What is traditional Transit-Oriented Development?

Traditional transit-oriented development, or TOD, is a way to build cities that prioritizes tightly connected neighborhoods with a mix of residential and commercial uses. These vibrant and walkable neighborhoods offer residents more choices in how to get around, whether walking, biking or riding transit, and more destinations for retail, dining and entertainment. In this way, TOD supports our goals for environmental sustainability and economic development.

TOD is not a building or a project; it's a pattern of development that is:

  • Compact and relatively dense.
  • Within walking or biking distance of transit.
  • Mixed-use, including housing, jobs, services, shopping and fun.
  • Safe, walkable, interconnected and lively.

An “E” for Equity!

While traditional TOD has brought significant benefits to many communities, subsequent growth around many of these developments has resulted in the displacement of nearby vulnerable communities. In these places, traditional TOD has become a victim of its own success, as new investment drives up rent and drives out long-time residents and businesses.

Typically, the affected communities include low-income families, people of color and households with limited or no access to private vehicles – the exact people who could benefit most from new transit. In response, Capital Metro and the City of Austin are talking to communities along Project Connect's future transit corridors to develop policies and principles for equitable transit-oriented development (ETOD). These community discussions will help us make the most of the opportunity provided by the $300 million anti-displacement fund created by voters in 2020.

Moving to a model of ETOD is especially important with Project Connect, which offers a once in a generation opportunity for Austin to connect residents to housing and jobs. Successful ETOD does more than protect against displacement; it creates new economic opportunities for everyone. In a city facing a severe housing shortage, Project Connect will unlock the potential for developing and preserving housing for people at all income levels.

If planned without a community focus, however, this investment may displace the very people that benefit most from transit. If planned with community support and involvement, though, the new transit lines will enable Austinites to benefit from the economic growth and opportunities in the years to come.

With ETOD

  1. Supports Transit Investment
    Gives more people access to high-quality transit, leading to a more successful transit investment.
  2. Coordinated Station Access
    Safe and convenient access is prioritized for people walking or biking to and from transit stations.
  3. Managed Change
    New opportunities are available for all types of Austinites to live, work and play near transit stations while being mindful of potential impacts to existing residents and businesses.
  4. Inviting Public Realm
    The area around stations is designed to provide a welcoming environment that fits in with the houses and businesses in the neighborhood.

Without ETOD

  1. Underperforming Transit
    Transit investment may not live up to its full potential, leading to longer wait times and a less convenient service.
  2. Gaps in Station Access
    Gaps in the sidewalk and bicycle network near stations lead to unsafe and unequal access to nearby residents.
  3. Development Pressure
    New development near stations is driven only by market forces, potentially displacing existing residents and businesses and leading to fewer opportunities for lower income Austinites.
  4. Generic Built Environment
    The station and nearby businesses don't fit together, don't serve the existing neighborhood well and lack a cohesive and uniquely “Austin” identity.

Capital Metro and its partners are considering multiple policy goals for achieving equitable TOD, including:

ETOD-Small-Business

Creating & Preserving
Affordable Housing

ETOD-Housing

Supporting
Small Businesses

ETOD-Jobs

Creating
New Jobs

ETOD-Public-Spaces

Improving
Public Spaces

CapMetro will work directly with communities along the corridor to adapt these goals to the specific context of each neighborhood.

In order for Equitable TOD in Austin to be successful, collaboration is essential. That absolutely means we need to listen to and work with you. But even more, many people across multiple organizations will play key roles in this work and need to work well together. Capital Metro, the Austin Transit Partnership (ATP) and the City of Austin are committed to working as one team along with the community.

ETOD_Agency-Involvment-Diagram

Contact

For more information or to provide feedback, email us at: etod@capmetro.org to get the latest information on upcoming ETOD workshops, events and news.