Transit-Oriented Development

From Invest in Transit, the 2018-2023 Regional Transit Strategic Plan for Chicago and Northeastern Illinois

The RTA’s Local Planning Division has developed and implemented several initiatives, technical studies and policies to foster sustainable and livable communities that enhance multi-modal transportation throughout the region.  Through these coordinated efforts, the RTA is committed to advancing transit-oriented development in our region.

Similar to the federal government’s livability initiatives, the RTA continues to coordinate with the transportation, housing, environment, and economic development fields to create and preserve livable communities.  In addition to providing funding and planning assistance to local governments through the Community Planning Program, the RTA also leads the Regional TOD Working Group and provides the following resources:

  • The Transit Works brochure conveys the many benefits of placing development and redevelopment near transit. The brochure uses graphics to describe the principles of TOD and its various benefits to a broad-scale audience and can be used as an educational tool and marketing piece to help gain support for TOD. Transit Works appeals to members of the public, local government officials and their staff, and the private development community. The benefits are outlined into four different categories, public health and safety, government efficiency and sustainability, transit effectiveness, and household cost savings.
  • The 2018 Community Planning Implementation Report: Design By Transit provides an overview of how the RTA’s Community Planning program supports transit-oriented development throughout the region.  The annual report includes the results of a 2017 survey of communities that have worked with the agency on past TOD projects. The survey focused on implementation efforts and private investments that occurred in 2017.  The report concludes with several success stories of completed Community Planning studies. The reports from previous years can be accessed below.
  • TOD Resident Survey Report shares results of residents surveyed throughout the Chicago region who live in suburban TOD areas and were asked why they chose to live near transit and if their lifestyles have changed since moving from their previous address.  The report details the findings from the survey data which indicates, among other things, that residents are using transit more and that they own fewer automobiles than before.  The report also includes recommendations that municipal officials and developers can use to further attract residents to their TOD areas.
  • The RTA 2013 Funding Programs Report shares important information about work the RTA does with communities and the service boards to enhance transit in our region. To date, the RTA has funded, or allocated funding for, more than 220 public transit related projects, benefiting the two million riders who use the RTA transit system every week day.
  • The Regional TOD Working Group was formed by the RTA in June 2008 to provide a forum for regional government and non-profit agencies, to discuss and coordinate numerous TOD initiatives underway in the region.  The Working Group meets quarterly, with its primary focus on TOD implementation strategies and efforts, and a secondary focus on planning efforts.  Strategies and initiatives developed by the Working Group guides the RTA’s work plan related to TOD.  Additional information about the group, including initiatives and membership, can be downloaded here.
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  • TOD Basics & Resources - Additional information and resources about TOD can be found at Transit-Oriented Development Basics and Resources
  • Making Way Access to Transit Guide was developed to encourage and empower municipalities to implement small scale capital access improvements such as the installation of sidewalks and crosswalks near existing transit facilities. Such improvements promote pedestrian mobility and provide added access to transit. By following the steps outlined in the guide, communities can improve their local built environment while providing viable connections to existing bus and train facilities that can increase transit ridership.
  • Setting the Stage for Transit Guide – Local communities can be proactive in creating an environment conducive to transit by conducting transit supportive planning and considering local financial investments to transit service. To be more competitive for increased transit service, communities are encouraged to plan for transit by supporting development that has sufficient densities, mix of land uses and available land for transit facilities. The RTA created the Setting the Stage for Transit guide as a resource for municipal officials looking to make their communities more transit-friendly.
  • TOD Value Capture - The RTA created “Tools and Techniques for Facilitating Effective TOD Value Capture – A White Paper”.The paper identifies best practices of transit agencies from around the country that have sought to capture enhanced land values resulting from transit service and leverage it for investment in the transit system.
  • Policies – The RTA Board of Directors adopted a Housing and Jobs Policy as an amendment to the RTA’s Strategic Plan in September 2009, and a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Policy in November 2010.  These policies support improving the spatial disconnect between job centers and housing in the region while advancing TOD by providing mixed-use development and mixed-income housing near transit centers. The goals of the policies have been incorporated into the Community Planning program’s evaluation criteria.
  • Streamlining the Entitlement Process for TOD -The RTA has created a best practices report that outlines ways to streamline the entitlement (or approval process) for TOD projects. This document can be used by communities as a guide to explore ways to adjust and reduce the submittal and review requirements for development proposals.
  • TOD Funding Sources – The RTA has created a list of available funding sources to help implement TOD.  The Municipal Funding Opportunities for Transit-Oriented Development guide includes local, regional, state, federal and private foundation sources.
  • TOD Parking and Access Report - The RTA created "Access and Parking Strategies for Transit-Oriented Development" as a resource for municipal officials looking for innovative strategies to support multi-modal access to their transit station and TOD area. While providing parking options in these areas is important, this guide focuses first on assessing multi-modal access strategies as a whole and placing a priority on pedestrian, bicycle and transit access. The RTA has also produced an associated PowerPoint presentation for municipal staff to utilize in explaining the principles of the Access and Parking Strategies Report. The PowerPoint concisely summarizes the main points of the report and provides talking notes for the presenter.
  • RTAMS Transit-Oriented Development Map Viewer - Interactive Web Map
  • TOD: The Future of Development - The RTA has created a brochure promoting the importance of transit-oriented development.  The brochure exhibits TOD’s target demographics and positive effect on housing, retail, office and restaurant markets, and developer testimonials on the increased interest in TOD.
  • Zoning and TOD – The RTA has created a document outlining the most common types of zoning ordinances and the best practices of each as related to TOD. This document can be used as a guide for communities to help further implement TOD by incorporating transit-supportive zoning regulations and standards in their transit area.

For information or questions regarding the RTA’s TOD / Land Use Initiatives, please contact:

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Michael Horsting, AICP
Manager, Local Planning
Regional Transportation Authority
175 W. Jackson Boulevard, Suite 1650
Chicago, Illinois 60604-2705
(312) 913-3159