Transit Oriented Development

Type of Measure

Principal Sector

Main Emission Target

Policy Focus

Status of Implementation

EU Climate Relevance


Transit Orientated Development (TOD) is an urban development approach that seeks to maximize the provision of services and infrastructure within close proximity to transport links. This involves the commitment of the National Planning Frameworks (NPF) to compact growth, particularly in the transport, housing and employment sectors so as to conform with United Nations Sustainable Growth Goals. Calthorpe (1993) describes TOD as the development and delivery of communities designed to reduce car dependence, by encouraging and enabling people to live near transport services. The National Economic and Social Council (2019) advise a strict adherence to the following guidelines, when undertaking TOD:

1. The decision to apply TOD should be made from the outset of a development. Initial plans need to take account of the density of the development and the transport connections as well as social considerations such as the provision and location of amenities and the tenure and affordability mix of the development.

2. A tailored institutional set-up must be created, even temporarily, to plan and oversee the entire project ensuring that the considerations outlined above are applied. This body must have the necessary planning and investment powers to carry out the project.

3. Adequate funding mechanisms are required to ensure the necessary transport and infrastructure be delivered ahead of demand. Taking the example of Adamstown, County Dublin (Bradsky et al. 2008), there was an agreement from the consultation process between private developers and other involved parties that the high-speed rail connection to Dublin City be up and running before the beginning of the development.

When these guidelines are followed, many planning issues can be avoided such as urban sprawl and regional isolation. Similarly, there are many potential benefits that can arise such as improvements to individual welfare and quality of life for people living in the area.

TOD does not exclusively concern transport planning but also aims to create mixed use and mix-income communities which have a moderate to high density of people living in them.The primary goals for TOD is to have leisure areas and both public and private services within a 10-minute cycling radius of the development and access to public transport within a 10-minute walking radius. These aims, when combined together, can reduce the car dependence of the transport sector, resulting in reduced CO2 output, as well as facilitating a more integrated community through improved local amenities and services.

Such a reduction in car dependence will be necessary in achieving transport related climate targets. Furthermore, building compact urban areas helps discourage sparse development and urban sprawl. The success of this measure will depend on the existing spatial structure of the urban area and the capacity and cost for developmental change. As well as being slower and more costly, TOD will be less effective in an existing, low-density, polycentric city with dispersed travel patterns, than if implemented in a monocentric city with strong radial travel patterns.

This measure is generally implemented at the local authority level. However, given the likely distances travelled between origins and destinations it may be necessary for several local authorities to collaborate, or for a national body to intervene and coordinate. Unfortunately, given that it can take several years for land use developments and transport infrastructure projects to go from the planning stages to the implementation stage, it is likely that any potential TOD policy measures will take some time to implement and for the benefits to be realised. TOD ought to be looked at as a solution and approach for the future development and planning of cities and towns, and provide a framework for how towns should be built rather than a system which can be adopted to patch up issues that currently exist in populated areas. However The National Economic and Social Council, recognize that the construction of Metrolink and BusConnects will make TOD possible in Dublin with Metrolink providing a 2.5km corridor either side of the proposed route amounting to 10,000 hectares of mixed housing and mixed-use development land. (NESC, 2019)

Costs incurred for TOD projects include pre-construction planning and consulting costs as well as investment, and capital costs. While ostensibly expensive, the costs of projects such as the Metrolink are necessary infrastructural investments justified under the National Planning Frameworks (NPF) which has the desired outcomes of sustainable mobility and regional accessibility. The NPF is also targeted at ensuring compact growth and the transition to a low-carbon society. As such, expenditure related specifically to TOD can make the initial investment more efficient and productive.

Benefits of TOD include achieving these NPF objectives, such as achieving a more sustainable commuting design while at the same time cutting down on CO2 emissions through a modal shift in commuting patterns. Other potential benefits include improved health and well-being, reduced urban sprawl, as well as the increased property values of homes local enough to benefit from the transport installation. Peterson (2009) argues that this value can be captured and used to fund TOD through a mechanism of tax or fee-based instruments.


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Reference this (2022). Transit Oriented Development. Available at: Last accessed: 05-06-2022.