ALERT! : More info

Transit Oriented Communities

A young woman walking on the sidewalk with her bike

Creating communities that, by their design, allow people to drive less and walk, cycle, and take transit more is one of the key goals of most land use and transportation plans in Metro Vancouver.

In the sections below, learn more about Transit-Oriented Communities (TOCs) and how TransLink is working with our partners to realize this goal through better coordination of land use and transportation.

 

Overview

Land use has a significant impact on transportation and vice versa. These pages outline how community design can support walking, cycling, and transit. This material is a summary of TransLink's Transit-Oriented Communities Primer on Key Concepts.

Transit-Oriented Communities (TOCs) are places that, by their design, allow people to drive less and walk, cycle, and take transit more.

In practice, this means concentrating higher-density, mixed-use, pedestrian friendly development within walking distance of frequent transit stops and stations, in combination with measures to discourage unnecessary driving. Ultimately, TOCs are really walking and cycling-friendly communities that are focused around frequent transit.

 

Why foster Transit-Oriented Communities?

Transit-oriented communities are a key part of creating communities that are more livable, sustainable and resilient. TOCs not only support viable sustainable transportation choices, they also result in lower levels of vehicle use, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved air quality and healthier lifestyles and can support other community goals as well.

A fundamental principle for creating transit-oriented communities is to concentrate growth in centres and corridors that are well served by frequent transit. Metro Vancouver's Regional Growth Strategy identifies the regions urban centre and other priority growth areas as well as the land use policies and objectives that support them. To further advance this "centres and corridors" concept, TransLink has introduced the concept of a Frequent Transit Network (FTN).

The Frequent Transit Network is a network of corridors where transit is provided at least every 15 minutes in both directions, throughout the day and into the evening, every day of the week.

The FTN does not refer to specific routes or technologies or vehicle types – rather it refers to a high frequency and span of transit service within a corridor. This level of service may be provided by a single route or by a combination of multiple routes and/or technologies within the same corridor.

Transit-oriented communities come in many shapes and sizes. Transit providers seek to match the type of service to the observed and expected demand, which is strongly influenced by community characteristics. As illustrated in Table 1, service types can be defined based on speed and access – attributes that are primarily determined by the type of right-of-way and the station or stop spacing.

Frequent transit services with limited stops, spaced every 1-1.5km, tend to have faster journey times but have less convenient local access. Frequent transit services with many local stops, spaced every 250-400m apart, have more convenient local access but have slower journey times.

The distances people are willing to walk to transit vary depending on several factors; including:

  • the type of transit service
  • trip length and purpose
  • weather
  • topography
  • demographics, and
  • quality of the pedestrian environment.

On average, most people will walk 10 minutes (800m) to access frequent limited-stop services such as rapid transit, and 5 minutes (400m) to access frequent local stop services.

Limited stop services generally support a nodal development pattern with the highest concentrations of density focused around the stops and stations. Local stop services usually support a linear development pattern with development distributed more equally along the corridor.

There is no single "right way" to create successful transit-oriented communities. There are, however, six key attributes that contribute to high levels of transit demand and productive transit service – Destinations, Distance, Design, Density, Diversity, and Demand Management – the "6 Ds." These have been shown to have a significant impact on transit ridership and mode share.

To be most effective, all "6 Ds" are planned and implemented together at multiple levels of geography, including the regional, corridor, neighbourhood and site scales.

D1 Destinations Icon

D1: Destinations - Coordinate land use and transportation

When land use and transportation are well coordinated, transit can provide fast, direct and cost-effective access to more destinations for more people. Transit-oriented communities coordinate transportation and land use in two important ways: At the neighbourhood scale, they locate most new development along reasonably direct corridors, so that most destinations are 'on the way' to other destinations. At the regional scale, they locate the highest densities of development and the most important destinations at the intersection of several frequent transit corridors.

D1 Destinations Icon

D2: Distance - Create a well-connected street network

A well-connected street network shortens travel distances, making it possible for people to quickly and conveniently walk or cycle to places they want to go, or to easily connect with transit en route to their destination

D1 Destinations Icon

D3: Design - Create places for people

Transit-oriented communities are carefully designed with the needs of people in mind. Whether walking, cycling, pushing a stroller, catching a bus, or using a mobility device, people of all ages and abilities should be able to access and enjoy a comfortable, safe, delightful and inviting public realm.

D1 Destinations Icon

D4: Density - Concentrate and intensify activities near frequent transit

Transit-oriented communities concentrate most growth and development within a short walk of frequent transit stops and stations. A higher density of homes, jobs, and other activities creates a market for transit, allowing frequent service to operate more efficiently. The form of development varies from community to community based on local goals, character and needs, and there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to achieving an appropriate level of density to support transit.

D1 Destinations Icon

D5: Diversity - Encourage a mix of uses

A vibrant mix of land uses helps to create complete, walkable neighbourhoods around transit stations and stops, and supports a transit system that is well-utilized throughout the day. Transit-oriented communities encourage a mix of land uses at both the neighbourhood and corridor scales.

D1 Destinations Icon

D6: Demand Management - Discourage unnecessary driving

Transit-oriented communities use demand management strategies to discourage unnecessary driving and promote walking, cycling and transit. Demand management provides incentives for travelers to shift auto trips to other modes in a number of ways, including increasing travel options, setting appropriate prices for parking or road usage, providing information and marketing, and allocating more road space to transit, cycling, or pedestrian uses.

 

Context

TransLink is working with Metro Vancouver, municipalities and other stakeholders in the coordination and integration of land use and transportation.

Regional Coordination of Land Use and Transportation

At a regional scale, the two key guiding documents for coordinating land use and transportation are Metro Vancouver's Regional Growth Strategy and TransLink's regional transportation strategy: Transport 2040. A key feature in both documents is the use of the Frequent Transit Network as an organizing framework for focusing growth and coordinating the provision of frequent transit service.

 

Metro Vancouver's Regional Growth Strategy

Metro Vancouver has a long tradition of regional planning and managing its growth. Metro Vancouver's current regional growth strategy was adopted in July 2011. It describes the goals, strategies and actions agreed to by the regional partnership to pursue sustainable growth and development to 2040. The Regional Growth Strategy is based on containing growth inside the Urban Containment Boundary, and focusing this growth in Urban Centres and other areas well-served by frequent transit service. A major focus of the strategy is to support sustainable transportation choices with an emphasis on a regional land use pattern that promotes walking, cycling and transit.

 

Transport 2040

Transport 2040 is the region's transportation strategy to keep people and our economy moving, strengthen our communities and protect the environment. TransLink is required by provincial legislation to provide a regional transportation system that moves people and goods, and supports the regional growth strategy, and provincial and regional environmental objectives, including protecting air quality, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the economic development of the transportation service region. Transport 2040 sets out broad goals and strategies for the regional transportation system and indicates that a key strategy is to coordinate land use and transportation early on to be pro-active in using transit to serve and shape land use.

Local Coordination of Land Use and Transportation

Land use decisions are primarily within the control of municipalities. The greatest opportunities to influence and shape land use therefore rest with Metro Vancouver’s municipalities through their land use planning, development and regulatory authorities. Land use and development decisions are most effective in supporting efficient and effective transportation service provision when they are conducted within the framework of the regional growth strategy and regional transportation strategy. TransLink works with its municipal partners to foster land use and transportation coordination through ongoing dialogue and collaborative planning processes.

 

Official Community Plans

The key policy document for a municipality is its Official Community Plan, which lays out local objectives and policies to guide decisions on planning and land use management. They are also extremely important in developing transit-oriented communities and providing the characteristics necessary to support investment in transit, and to foster walking and cycling.

 

Other municipal planning documents

Various other documents also contain important elements for integrating land use and transportation, such as municipal transportation plans, community energy and emissions plans, corridor plans, and land use plans at smaller scales (neighbourhood, urban centres, etc.). These documents often provide a greater level of detail on the local initiatives and investments that can foster walking, cycling and transit use.

 

Implementation

TransLink is working with its various partners to better coordinate land use and transportation.

TransLink is in the process of working with its partners to develop policies, processes, programs, and guidelines to assist municipalities in developing more transit-oriented communities. We will also be monitoring how successful we are in implementation and adjusting course where necessary.

The creation of a transit-oriented community requires coordination and action at all scales, from the regional scale down to the site scale, and by multiple stakeholders.

TransLink is working with its partners on various planning processes that support the development of transit-oriented communities.

Examples include the following:

 

Plans and Studies Underway

 

Plans and Studies Completed

A number of guidelines have been developed by TransLink and its partners to help reinforce the land use-transportation connection and develop more transit-oriented communities:

 

Transit-Oriented Communities Design Guidelines

TransLink has developed a set of Transit-Oriented Communities Design Guidelines that outline a range of best practices and strategies for designing communities around frequent transit stops, stations and exchanges that support walking, cycling and transit. The design guidelines serve as a resource to assist municipal planners, engineers, elected officials, developers and others in achieving transit-oriented visions for their communities.

 

Transit Passenger Facilities Design Guidelines

The Transit Passenger Facilities Design Guidelines provide a framework for designing and developing transit passenger facilities (transit stations, exchanges and stops) within their surrounding context. Intended for all parties involved in passenger facility planning, design and maintenance, the guidelines will ensure that new facilities and facility upgrades balance the goals of creating great places for passengers and pedestrians, optimizing transit efficiency, achieving environmental sustainability and being fiscally responsible, all with design excellence.

 

Transit Service Guidelines

TransLink planners use a set of Transit Service Guidelines to improve transit service quality for customers and to evaluate proposed transit service improvements. The guidelines ensure that all transit services provide customers with acceptable levels of convenience, frequency, speed, comfort and reliability. TransLink plans to update these guidelines in the near future to reflect best practice and our growing network.

 

Metro Vancouver Guideline on Identifying Frequent Transit Development Areas

Metro Vancouver, in consultation with TransLink and municipal agencies, has developed a Guideline on Identifying Frequent Transit Development Areas (FTDAs) to assist in implementing this new concept from the Regional Growth Strategy. This guideline, adopted by the Metro Vancouver Board, provides municipalities with information on how to respond to the Regional Growth Strategy policies on FTDAs in their Regional Context Statements, and the process for identifying these areas.

TransLink and Metro Vancouver are both responsible for monitoring how well the region is becoming more transit-oriented.

 

Key Land Use and Transportation Goal

One of the key goals of Transport 2040 is to have the majority of jobs and housing in the region located along the Frequent Transit Network. This goal addresses several aspects of integrating land use and transportation and is highlighted here.

 

Progress to Date

TransLink has already made considerable progress towards achieving this goal where over half of the region's dwellings and about two-thirds of the employment are currently located within walking distance of the Frequent Transit Network.

 

Additional Information on Transit-Oriented Communities Indicators

 

Resources

There is a wide range of resources available that help support developing transit-oriented communities. Some of these resources have been developed by TransLink while others have been developed by other organizations, academic institutions and practitioners. A selection of these resources has been compiled below.

TransLink has developed or is developing a number of resources to foster the development of transit-oriented communities. These resources will be of interest to a wide audience, including planners, engineers, developers, students and researchers, and consultants. The first resource, which is a primer on key concepts, will also be of interest to the general public and local elected officials.

 

Introduction to Transit-Oriented Communities

 

Guidelines

 

Other Resources

The following organizations have additional resources and materials on fostering transit-oriented communities. The list of organizational links is not intended to be a comprehensive list. It is a selected list to help direct people to additional resources. In addition, the Transit-Oriented Communities Design Guidelines include a more detailed list of resources. 

 

Regional/National Organizations

 

US-Based Organizations