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Transit-Oriented Communities

Two men walking away from a shuttle bus at a bus stop

Transit-oriented communities are places that, by their design, allow people to drive less and walk, cycle, and take transit more. This means concentrating higher-density, mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly development within walking distance of frequent transit stops and stations, in tandem with measures to discourage unnecessary driving.

Why foster transit-oriented communities?
Transit-oriented communities support sustainable transportation choices and other community goals, and result in lower levels of vehicle use, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved air quality, and healthier lifestyles.

A fundamental principle for creating transit-oriented communities is to concentrate growth in centres and corridors that are well served by transit.

To advance the goals outlined in Metro 2050, the Regional Growth Strategy, we introduced the concept of the Major Transit Network (MTN). The MTN is a network representing the highest order of transit in the region, with services that are high-capacity, high-frequency, fast, and reliable, travelling in dedicated rights-of-way all day, every day in both directions. The corridors surrounding selected MTN routes have been identified as Major Transit Growth Corridors in Metro 2050. Major Transit Growth Corridors represent locations for regionally significant levels of corridor-based transit-oriented growth, based on the following principles: anchored by Urban Centres or Frequent Transit Development Areas, connected by the Major Transit Network, generally resilient to natural hazards, accessible to jobs and services, and walkable.

All Major Transit Growth Corridors are served by existing or planned MTN-level service. However, not all MTN routes have been identified as Major Transit Growth Corridors. Together, the Major Transit Network and Major Transit Growth Corridors represent the priority locations for transit investment and new Frequent Transit Development Areas, helping to bring additional certainty and greater coordination for member jurisdictions, TransLink and Metro Vancouver over time as the region grows.

While Transport 2050 envisions the MTN as the transit backbone for the highest growth areas in the region, the Frequent Transit Network (FTN) also supports transit-oriented growth and development. The Frequent Transit Network is a network transit is provided at least every 15 minutes in both directions, throughout the day and into the evening, every day of the week.

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 influenced by community characteristics. Service types can be defined based on speed and access – attributes that are determined by the right-of-way, the station, or stop spacing. Transit-supportive land uses are described in Metro 2050 as well as TransLink’s Transit Service Guidelines.

The distances people are willing to walk to transit depend on:

  • Type of transit service

  • Trip length and purpose

  • Weather

  • Topography

  • Demographics

  • Quality of the pedestrian environment

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

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

Limited stop services generally support the highest concentrations of population density around the stops and stations serviced. Metro 2050 advises that development around these types of services be generally nodal-shaped and include:

  • Higher-density development forms, including office and employment uses;

  • Additional parking management to support transit and active transportation; and

  • Minimum density of 60-350 jobs + people per hectare.

Local stop services, on the other hand, support a pattern of development distributed more equally along the corridor. Metro 2050 encourages development around these types of services to be generally linear-shaped and include:

  • Medium-density housing forms, especially wood-frame construction;

  • Affordable and rental housing;

  • Employment; and

  • Minimum density of 35-80 jobs + people per hectare

TransLink works with Metro Vancouver, the region’s local governments, and other stakeholders to coordinate and integrate land use and transportation.

The greatest opportunities to influence land use rest with Metro Vancouver’s local governments and communities through their land use planning, development, and regulatory authorities. These decisions can support efficient and effective transportation service provisions when they’re conducted within the framework of the Regional Growth Strategy and Regional Transportation Strategy.

Official Community Plans are developed by local governments and communities. They lay out local objectives and policies to guide decisions on planning and land use management. They’re important in developing transit-oriented communities and providing the characteristics necessary to support investment in transit and foster walking and cycling.

Local government transportation plans, community energy and emissions plans, corridor plans, and land use plans at smaller scales (neighbourhood, urban centres, etc.) also provide a greater level of detail on the local initiatives and investments that can foster walking, cycling, and transit use.

We work with our local government partners to foster land use and transportation coordination through ongoing dialogue and collaborative planning processes.

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. We work with our partners to develop policies, processes, programs, and guidelines that assist in advancing more transit-oriented communities.

Design Guide for Bus Stops Adjacent to Cycling Infrastructure

TransLink, in partnership with the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI), has created the Design Guide for Bus Stops Adjacent to Cycling Infrastructure. Specifically, this Design Guide provides recommended treatments in scenarios where transit users must cross protected cycling infrastructure to access the bus stop. It is intended to ensure design solutions address the needs of all road users as best as possible, which includes considering a range of accessibility needs as well as the needs of people cycling. It provides guidance to local governments to help create bus stops adjacent to protected cycling infrastructure while minimizing barriers to people with disabilities.

The Design Guide is available in PDF and DOC (Word) format: 

This document provides a comprehensive set of planning and engineering guidelines offering solutions for the planning, design, operation, and maintenance of bus stops adjacent to protected cycling infrastructure in a range of contexts and applications throughout British Columbia, along with guidance for education and engagement. The guidance applies to new infrastructure and may also be applied to retrofits of existing bus stops adjacent to protected cycling infrastructure. Recognizing the range of contexts across British Columbia, ranging from large urban centres which may have high levels of walking, rolling, cycling, and transit use, to small and rural communities which may have lower levels of walking, rolling, cycling, and transit use this Design Guide provides flexible and context-sensitive guidance for communities of all sizes and types across British Columbia.

We’re working with our partners on multiple planning processes that support the development of transit-oriented communities; these currently include but aren’t limited to:

Our Transit-Oriented Communities Design Guidelines outline best practices and strategies for designing communities around frequent transit stops, stations, and exchanges that support walking, cycling, and transit. These guidelines serve as a resource for municipal planners, engineers, elected officials, developers, and others in achieving transit-oriented visions for their communities.

A summary version of the guidelines key concepts is also available in our Transit-Oriented Communities: A Primer on Key Concepts.

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 ensure that new and upgraded facilities balance the goals of creating great places for customers and pedestrians, optimizing transit efficiency, achieving environmental sustainability, and being fiscally responsible, all with design excellence.


We use a set of Transit Service Guidelines to improve service quality for customers and evaluate proposed transit service improvements. The guidelines ensure that all transit services provide customers with acceptable levels of convenience, frequency, speed, comfort, and reliability.

The Bus Infrastructure Design Guidelines consolidate transportation design best practices for bus transit facilities in Metro Vancouver. It offers transit infrastructure design best practices for engineers, planners, and other parties involved in designing and building urban infrastructure. The design criteria is recommended for typical applications and provides guidance on operational efficiency, safety, and customer comfort. It is a living document that will be updated as technology and best practices evolve.

Our TDM Guidelines for Development in Metro Vancouver provide developers and local governments with best practice and insight on how to incorporate TDM strategies into new developments.

In consultation with TransLink and member jurisdictions, Metro Vancouver is updating the Guideline on Identifying Frequent Transit Development Areas (FTDAs) to assist in establishing these areas and implementing this concept from Metro 2050. This will include guidance on updated geographic requirements for FTDAs – most notably, the policy that new FTDAs must be located within Major Transit Growth Corridors.

In 2023, the Province of British Columbia passed new legislation requiring some local governments to designate Transit-Oriented Development Areas near transit hubs. As noted on the Province’s site, “These TOD Areas are defined as areas within 800 metres of a rapid transit station (e.g., SkyTrain station) and 400 metres of a bus exchange and West Coast Express that the Province has listed in regulations.”

The 6 Ds

There are six key attributes (the "6 Ds") that contribute to high levels of transit demand and productive transit service: destinations, distance, design, density, diversity, and demand management.

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.

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. At the neighbourhood scale, transit-oriented communities 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.

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 on the way to their destination.

Design: Create Places for People

Transit-oriented communities are carefully designed with the needs of people in mind. People of all ages and abilities should be able to access and enjoy a comfortable, safe, delightful, and inviting public realm.

Diversity: 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.

Diversity: Encourage a Mix of Uses

A vibrant mix of land uses helps create complete, walkable neighbourhoods around transit stations and stops, and supports a transit system that is well-utilized throughout the day.

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 by 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.

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