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Transit-Oriented Development Guidelines

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TOD guidelines

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These transit-oriented development (TOD) guidelines are meant to provide the entire community of TOD stakeholders – transit agencies, local governments, regional planners, community groups, developers, and others – with a common vocabulary and frame of reference.

The guidelines contain what Port Authority of Allegheny County considers to be best practice standards for TOD, based on local and national research. The Authority will strive to achieve the outcomes described herein to the best of its ability and expects development partners, private developers, and community developers to do the same. Port Authority will work with local governments where possible to facilitate these best practices. This document is intended to facilitate the implementation of existing community-supported planning and provide guidance where new planning occurs.

Port Authority’s Role in Development

Investments in TOD enable the agency to generate ridership from new uses and revenue from real estate. These guidelines can help PAAC play three important roles in the coming years:

  • As a sponsor for joint development (projects built on Authority property or connected physically or functionally to a busway or light rail Port Authority station),
  • As a stakeholder for any development occurring within the “zone of influence” of current or future stations (1/2 mile around station, roughly the same area as a walkshed),
  • As an advocate for sustainable land use decisions along all of the region’s transit corridors, whether undertaken by PAAC or others, as our regional transit network grows.

As the service provider and property owner, Port Authority is primarily responsible for improvements to its stations. In general, TOD (i.e., a developer’s responsibility) begins at the edge of the station itself and continues into the community.

While PAAC will use the concepts outlined herein to guide any improvements to its stations, this document is intended to provide guidance on TOD projects, which act as gateways to transit stations given their proximity.

What is TOD?

Transit-oriented development is deliberately planned higher-density, mixed-use development within walking distance of a transit station. Transit stations are typically transit stops that are located along fixed guideways and feature more infrastructure and amenities than typical on-street transit stops. 

Mixed-use development integrated with transit infrastructure creates a ready-made community of transit riders. The proximity and convenience of transit, combined with the walkability and diversity of services in the immediate area, supports a multimodal, if not car-free, lifestyle for people of all ages and incomes. Over the last decade, transit agencies across the country have come to see the benefits of TOD to their systems and of involvement in TOD advocacy, design, and joint development.

Benefits of TOD

TOD can provide many benefits to the community in which it’s located, including: increased transit ridership, economic development, diverse transportation choices, stable property values, and reduced air pollution.

“One of the primary benefits of joint development is revenue generation for the transit system, such as income derived from rental or lease payments, as well as private sector contributions to public infrastructure. Other benefits include shared costs, efficient land use, reduced distance between transportation and other activities, economic development, increased transit ridership, and improved transit connectivity.” – Federal Transit Administration Guidance on Joint Development (2014) 

Research shows that TOD results in higher levels of transit ridership, fewer automobile trips, and lower car ownership rates than other types of development.

Additional Resources

Allegheny Places, Allegheny County comprehensive plan. Published in 2008, updated in 2014.

Federal Transit Administration Guidance on Joint Development, provides guidance on how FTA-funded agencies can participate in joint development. Published in August 2014.

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