The University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning

Do Transit Oriented Developments (TODs) Make a Difference?

The United States is moving into a new era of metropolitan development and form. The demographic, economic, and finance drivers that made America a suburban nation have run their course. America will see a shift toward infill and redevelopment. Facilitating this will be fixed-guideway transit systems and the transit oriented developments (TODs) they serve.

Our project will measure the outcomes of TODs in relation to controls with respect to (1) jobs by sector, (2) housing choice for household types based on key demographic characteristics, (3) housing affordability based on total housing plus transportation (H+T) costs, and (4) occupation-household balance as a measure of accessibility. We find that there is no literature systematically evaluating TOD outcomes in these respects in relation to light rail transit (LRT), commuter rail transit (CRT), bus rapid transit (BRT), and street car transit (SCT) systems. We will help close this gap. We will apply our analysis to the 19 metropolitan areas in the South and West that have one or more of those systems.

Our research design will identify treatment (TODs) and reasonably comparable control areas to apply pretest-posttest evaluation to jobs, housing choice, housing affordability, and occupation-housing balance. Because we have fine-grained, geographically coded firm-based data by sector between 1997 and 2010, we will use interrupted time series analysis to conduct a natural experiment evaluating the differences in outcomes between treatment (TODs) and control areas with respect to the economic recessions of 2001-2002 and 2008-2010. As relevant to individual analyses, our dependent variables will include numerical, percentage, and share changes in jobs by sector, households by type, housing affordability, and occupation-household balance with respect to treatment (TODs) and control locations.

Our work will inform decision-makers at all levels of government about whether and the extent to which TODs make a difference in economic development with respect to jobs generally and with respect to resiliency during recessions, expanding housing choice to specific household types, enhancing housing affordability, and improving occupation-household balance.