TOD in Statute and Regulation

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Although transit-oriented development (TOD) and joint development are not discreet programs of the U.S. Department of Transportation,  FTA grantees may use FTA financial assistance for joint development activities that incorporate private investment or enhance economic development.  Such projects may include transferring land for nearby real estate development; preparing land for development; providing enhanced access; and developing on-site community services such as dependent care, health care, public safety, or commercial conveniences.  Moreover, federal transit law (49 U.S.C. §5301 et. seq.) references transit-oriented development throughout:

  1. SAFETEA-LU created a Center for Transit-Oriented Development to develop standards and definitions for transit-oriented development adjacent to public transportation facilities; system planning guidance, performance criteria, and modeling techniques for metropolitan planning agencies and public transportation agencies to maximize ridership through land use planning and adjacent development; and research support and technical assistance to public transportation agencies, metropolitan planning agencies, and other persons regarding transit-oriented development;
  2. Section 1117 of SAFETEA-LU the Transportation, Community and System Preservation Program makes transit-oriented development plans and capital projects eligible for federal funding, and gives priority consideration to state and local preservation of development plans, including transit-oriented development plans;
  3. 49 U.S.C. §5309(d) requires that projects proposed for New Starts funding be justified based, in part, on a comprehensive review of Transit Supportive Land Use Policies and Future Patterns;
  4. FTA’s definition of Capital Project at 49 U.S.C. §5302(a)(1)(G) makes certain joint development activities eligible for funding under federal transit law; and
  5. In its evaluation of New Starts projects, FTA explicitly considers existing land use, transit supportive plans and policies, including the following factors: 
    • Growth management;
    • Transit supportive corridor policies;
    • Supportive zoning regulations near transit stations; and
    • Tools to implement land use policies.

Agency guidance published in 2007 describes the eligibility of  "joint development" improvements under federal transit law (49 U.S.C. §5301 et. seq.).  SAFETEA–LU enacted certain amendments to the definition of the term "capital project" as used in 49 U.S.C. §5302(a)(1)(G).  This amendment permits FTA to issue public  transportation grants "for the construction, renovation, and improvement of intercity bus and intercity rail stations and terminals."

The factors that grantees should address to determine the eligibility of joint development improvements for FTA funds include the following statutory criteria: 

  • Economic Link: enhances economic development or incorporates private investment;
  • Public Transportation Benefit: Enhances the effectiveness of a public transportation project and relates physically or functionally to public transportation, or establishes new or enhanced coordination between public transportation and public transportation;
  • Revenue for Public Transportation: Provides a fair share of revenue for public transportation that will be used for public transportation; and 
  • Reasonable Share of Costs: (if applicable) occupants to pay a reasonable share of the costs of the facility through rental payments and other means.