Transit-Oriented Development | Plans + Projects | Our Work

Transit-Oriented Development

Transit-oriented development, or TOD for short, refers to the clustering of homes, jobs, shops and services near rail stations, ferry terminals or bus stops with high-frequency service.

Studies show people are more likely to ride transit if they live within half a mile of a rail station, ferry terminal or bus line. And jobs that are within a quarter-mile of transit often are more attractive to prospective workers.


Transit-oriented development near El Cerrito del Norte BART station
Peter Beeler
Transit-oriented development near El Cerrito del Norte BART station.

Transit-oriented development is not a one-size-fits-all design concept. It’s a flexible type of development adapted to local conditions and local demand.

TOD examples can be found in many older Bay Area neighborhoods that emerged as urban communities or streetcar suburbs before World War II.

And residential and commercial developers in some of our newer areas have chosen to capitalize on sites where driving is just one of several transportation options.

Looking for briefings, policies, TODcasts (i.e., podcast tours of San Pablo Avenue, Hayward, Redwood City and neigbhorhoods in San Jose and San Francisco) or other reports? Visit our library and type “smart growth” and “TOD” in the search field.

Examples of modern TOD communities are showcased in New Places, New Choices.

MTC, ABAG, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission produced this publication together.

MTC’s transit-oriented development policy conditions regional funding for transit expansion projects on having enough people living near the proposed new stations to support ridership.

The policy sets minimums for the average number of existing and/or permitted housing units within a half-mile of each station along the expansion corridor. This perimeter is known as the station area.

Minimum station area housing requirements vary by type of project:

  • BART — 3,850 units
  • Light Rail — 3,300 units
  • Bus Rapid Transit — 2,750 units
  • Commuter Rail — 2,200 units
  • Ferry — 750 units

The TOD policy includes two other key elements:

  • Funding to help local governments develop station area plans that incorporate housing, jobs, station access, design standards, parking and other amenities based on unique circumstances and community character.
  • Organizing working groups to bring together staff from local governments along the expansion corridor, as well as transit agencies, county congestion management agencies and others to help develop station area plans and to meet MTC's corridor-wide housing targets.