Announcing the World Transit-Oriented Development Resource, a New Learning Platform
The World Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Resource, an easily-accessible, web-based platform designed to educate policy-makers, planners and developers in the Global South about the benefits of TOD and equip them with tools for implementation, is now available to the public. Going beyond the traditional focus on urban design, the World TOD Resource includes a wide range of information about financing, institutional structures and practical implementation advice—in addition to design. The platform serves as a portal for anyone interested in learning about TOD, and presents experts as well as novices with the summaries of reports, best practices and case studies from around the world.
The World TOD Resource officially launched at Connect Karo, the fifth annual conference of WRI India Sustainable Cities, April 5-7, 2017 in New Delhi. The three-day convening brought together thought leaders and policy makers from various fields, like urban design, urban planning, transport, energy, water and climate change.
Filling the Global Knowledge Gap
Previously, no resource existed with comprehensive, multi-sectoral information about TOD in international contexts. The information available has largely been about the US experience, leading to a widespread knowledge gap about how to implement TOD worldwide.
This has been a longstanding challenge, as decision makers at all levels often lack knowledge of the benefits, a common vocabulary for discussing viable options and the technical skills to actually implement TOD. In addition, TOD deals are complex, as they require aligning public and private actors, short and longer term plans and policies, buildings and infrastructure and the cooperation of many stakeholders. The legal frameworks, policies and codes in many cities don’t allow for TOD, and even when they do, the lack of enforcement can be a big challenge. For example, parking minimums take valuable space from housing for cars, causing rents to rise and encouraging driving. Additionally, cities often don’t understand the financial mechanisms available to them to enable TOD, and how to evaluate different options. Acquiring and managing the land necessary for TOD can be a challenge for cities. Many lack integrated planning processes that bring together economic, land use and transport planning to collaborate with one another.
Good governance and appropriate financing options are essential to ensuring that cities are actually able to implement TOD, and in a way that is equitable for all. While a lot is known about good urban design, it’s the enabling environment—the regulatory framework and financing mechanisms—that doesn’t work as it should, and has been less discussed, studied and promoted. It is these barriers to practical implementation that the World TOD Resource plans to address.
TOD as a Strategy for Meeting Global Challenges
As global populations, particularly in the Global South, continue to urbanize, cities will need accommodate more and more people and meet their mobility, housing, social and economic needs in a way that is equitable and uses space efficiently. Countries in Asia and Africa are expected to experience the greatest rate of urbanization by 2050, underscoring the need for cities in those countries to allocate resources appropriately. The decisions that local, regional and national governments make now can set the trajectory for development for decades, with lasting environmental, social and economic impact. Cities are not always aware of alternative models of growth or equipped with the capacity to guide development that enhances the economy, minimizes environmental impact and improves quality of life for all.
As a strategy for creating walkable, mixed-used, compact urban areas that are serviced by high-quality mass transit systems and offer a variety of services, amenities and job opportunities, TOD has a lot to offer. The World TOD Resource is the next step in making TOD a reality for cities around the world.
A Dynamic Community for Changing Needs
Content for the World TOD Resource will come from both WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities and external sources. The site will be dynamic and updated regularly with new resources to reflect current research and successful TOD practice. Users are encouraged to submit documents to the platform.
In the end, the idea is for city officials and policymakers to mandate and facilitate equitable TOD through changes to development regulations and plans; developers to design and build neighborhoods following TOD principles; financial institutions to fund and finance TOD; and for citizens to demand and support budget allocations to fund TOD projects.
Click here to learn more and visit the World TOD Resource