The National Academies

TCRP H-47 [Completed]

Linking Transit Agencies and Land Use Decisionmaking

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: Parson Brinckerhoff Group Administration
Principal Investigator: Mr. Brian McMahon
Effective Date: 1/25/2013
Completion Date: 9/24/2015


Transit’s success depends on land use, but transit is often not adequately considered in the land development planning and implementation processes. Local governments make land use and development decisions to advance community goals or in response to developer proposals. These decisions can have a significant influence on existing transit services or the prospects of new services and yet are often reached without full consideration of their potential to impact or benefit from transit connections. Local governments and transit agencies sometimes integrate transit and land use planning in comprehensive plans. This cooperation does not always extend to the development review process, resulting in incomplete plan implementation and the following types of problems:
  • Developments are planned and constructed without thoughtful consideration of transit services or access to transit services.   For example, developments are planned without sidewalks or have street patterns that do not allow buses to circulate efficiently. Often developers relegate bus stops to remote, less accessible, and less visible locations.
  • Often transit agencies receive requests from completed developments for new or expanded transit services in locations where such services cannot be efficiently or effectively provided. 
  • Negotiations among local governments, transit agencies, and developers are often problematic. There is often no structured forum for ongoing coordination among local governments, transit agencies, and the development community. 
  • Transit planners are often not familiar with local planning and zoning processes and often lack important knowledge about procedures followed by local governments in the land use planning and regulatory processes.
The relationships between transit and land use are becoming better understood.  Some transit agencies have developed standards for land use in areas that want new rail services. Some transit agencies have land use standards for proposed corridor expansions. Many transit agencies have guidelines for adding bus stops, increasing transit services, and improving access to their services. Research is needed to assess the state of the practice of transit and land use decisionmaking and create a guidebook of approaches, techniques, and tools for transit agencies. 


The objective of this research project is to develop a guidebook about the connections among transit, land use planning, and development decision-making processes. The guidebook should (1) enable transit agencies to effectively engage local governments, MPOs, state DOTs, and the development community; (2) present effective tools for transit agency participation in short- and long-range planning and development decisions; and (3) serve a wide spectrum of large, medium, and small communities and transit agencies that provide a range of transit services.

STATUS: Final Report has been published  in the regular TCRP series as TCRP Report 182.

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