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Smart Growth

Transit-Oriented Development:
Transit Villages, Policies and Studies

Choosing Where We Live: Attracting Residents to Transit-Oriented Neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area

TOD Policy

To promote cost-effective transit, ease regional housing shortages, create vibrant communities and preserve open space, MTC adopted a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Policy in 2005 that applies to transit extension projects in the Bay Area.  Research shows that residents living within half a mile of transit are much more likely to use it, and that large job centers within a quarter mile of transit draw more workers on transit.

The $11.8 billion Regional Transit Expansion Program that MTC adopted as Resolution 3434 in 2001 was accompanied by a strong directive to develop a policy that would condition the allocation of regional discretionary funds for transit expansion projects on supportive local land use plans and policies. In December 2003, MTC adopted a five-point Transportation/Land Use Platform that reconfirmed the Commission's commitment to conditioning Resolution 3434 funds on supportive land use in order to generate new transit riders and make the region's transit investments more cost-effective.

MTC's TOD policy includes three key elements. The first is corridor-based performance measures to quantify minimum levels of development around transit stations. Minimum thresholds are based on the transit mode — there is a higher threshold for capital-intensive modes, such as BART.  Second, MTC will help to fund station area plans for jobs and housing, station access, design standards, parking and other amenities based on unique circumstances and community character.  The third element of the TOD policy is the creation of corridor working groups to bring together local government staff, transit agencies, county congestion management agencies (CMAs) and other key stakeholders along the corridor to help develop station area plans to meet MTC's corridor-wide land-use thresholds.

Feeding into the development of the TOD Policy, MTC undertook a TOD Study, an extensive analytical and outreach process that assessed the opportunities, benefits and barriers for increased levels of TOD in the San Francisco Bay Area.  

TOD Choices

MTC completed a market analysis of surveys of over 900 households to examine what attracts San Francisco Bay Area home-seekers to transit oriented development (TOD) neighborhoods and how to improve these neighborhoods to better attract home seekers. Our goal is to help elected officials, public agency professionals, community stakeholders and developers understand how to develop high-quality TODs so that they successfully create great neighborhoods and attract new residents. This work is applicable for town centers, downtowns, transit villages, urban neighborhoods, and suburban centers. For the Briefing Book (PDF) and more information on this “TOD Choices Study”, click here. To request a paper copy of the Briefing Book contact the MTC/ABAG Library at library@mtc.ca.gov.

Financing TOD

MTC recently made a $10 million anchor commitment to establish the Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing (TOAH) Fund, a new $50 million revolving loan fund for affordable housing developers to finance land acquisition in select locations near rail and bus lines throughout the Bay Area. For more information about the TOAH fund, see:


In 2008 MTC staff commissioned Reconnecting America to work with staff to develop new ideas for a funding program that would move beyond MTC's 10 year old TLC program. The report, Financing Transit Oriented Development in the San Francisco Bay Area: Policy Options and Strategies (PDF), outlines a number of potential strategies to directly support TOD. MTC will be working with its partners throughout the Bay Area to develop new program guidelines as the agency seeks to advance TOD.

TransLink for TOD (T4T)

A pilot project beginning in June 2008, MTC partnered with the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) to provide free electronic transit passes to residents of select transit-oriented development (TOD) communities in the East Bay. About 1,500 residents received free, personalized TransLink cards, allowing unlimited free access on the AC Transit bus system for six months to one year. Participants also received customized information about transit services in their areas.  More information about T4T.

See also:

  • TOD Policy Evaluations/Updates