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Benefits of Transit-Supportive Development

The term "transit-supportive development" broadens the definition of a concept that has existed for years—that the utilization of effective and predictable transit encourages surrounding development, which, in turn, supports transit. The basic principle is that convenient access to transit can be a key attraction that fosters mixed-use development, and the increased density in station areas not only supports transit but also may accomplish other goals, including reducing urban sprawl, reducing congestion, increasing pedestrian activity, increasing economic development potential, realizing environmental benefits, and building sustainable communities.

For the purposes of describing and evaluating the development possibilities that can support and be supported by transit, this study has gone beyond the traditional Transit-Oriented Development definition. The term “transit-supportive development” emanates from NJIT’s extensive interaction and coordination with regional and local planners who stressed that the achievement of a broader set of transit/land use goals would require a different approach to considering the types of development that may be supported by transit and which, in turn, may support transit. Transit comes in many forms that can provide the links that are vital to sustainable growth. Not every region has the transit modes or developmental patterns that typically have been considered most appropriate for TOD. The regional planning questions for these areas are how to support clustered and compatible development around (and within) existing centers, and how to encourage and plan for the type of mixed-use developments that can create walkable, sustainable communities in existing suburban areas lacking town centers.

Effective and predictable transit can act as a catalyst for an array of sensible development types. The issue is how best to encourage the merging of land use planning and transit planning across a region and across transit modes. It is important to realize that mode and level of service should be expected to change as areas develop and redevelop, so that today’s strategies can help provide tomorrow’s solutions. Thus, the term transit-supportive development has two meanings. First, it is a different approach to planning—one that integrates transit planning with local land use planning. Second, it describes the type of development that may be supported by transit and that, in turn, may support transit.