New Research on the Benefits of Affordable Transit-Oriented Development

 In Great News

GCC recently published a research brief: “The Benefits of Affordable Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) in the Bay Area and How to Improve It.” It is based on a UC Berkeley survey study funded by GCC and BART that examined the travel behavior of affordable housing residents living near BART stations, and compared the patterns to those of market-rate TOD and non-TOD residents. We’d love to see GCC partners, other advocates, and government staff use this brief to push the prioritization affordable housing around transit hubs. The brief is now posted on GCC’s Resources page.   

Here are some key findings from that study:

  • Residential TOD is successfully moving people away from solo driving to more sustainable modes. TOD residents were less likely to drive alone than non-TOD residents. Walking and biking have also increased significantly at several developments near East Bay BART stations, compared to an earlier study.
  • Prioritizing affordable TOD also means focusing on the types of trips its residents are more likely to take. Because many affordable housing residents are seniors or otherwise not working, they were more likely to ride BART at off-peak times and for social or recreational purposes.
  • Investing in affordable TOD is an investment in racial and economic equity. Affordable TOD benefits lower-income residents and residents of color who might otherwise be unable to live near transit. Many survey respondents had previously experienced homelessness or destabilizing housing conditions like rent hikes or substandard conditions.

The study’s findings also point to improvements to transit systems and affordable housing to make TOD work better for lower-income residents and residents of color. These include greater agency coordination, discounts and subsidies for low-income riders, and safe, clean and accessible facilities. Lastly, it’s important to note that this study took place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe that the report’s findings and recommendations are still relevant; as transit and housing agencies plan for a different world post-COVID, they should center equitable development, affordable housing, and the transportation needs of low-income residents of color who may not be 9-to-5 office workers.

Big thanks to our partners at the TOD Implementation Table for contributing to this research brief, especially: Enterprise Community Partners, TransForm, and BART.

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