Have you ever been to a city where you can easily travel without an automobile? Where transitioning from walking, or perhaps biking, to transit is seamless, efficient, and enjoyable? Where a connected transportation network allows you to easily get to work, restaurants, retail and recreation? Thoughtful city design helps to create this environment, and at the heart of this design is often the incorporation of Transit-Oriented Development.
Transit-Oriented Development, or TOD, is a type of development that typically includes a mix of land use types, such as residential, commercial, and office uses, with pedestrian amenities and within a half-mile of public transportation. Around the world, TOD has developed into a planning, community development, design, and funding method that supports livable, walkable environments.
Within Pinellas County, Forward Pinellas is committed to working with our partners to encourage TOD by identifying the locations best suited for premium transit service. These priority investment corridors are designated as multimodal corridors on the Land Use Strategy Map featured in The Countywide Plan for Pinellas County, as well as the 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan, known as Advantage Pinellas.
Through the two guiding plans, The Countywide Plan and Advantage Pinellas, Forward Pinellas and our partners lay the groundwork for the incorporation of TOD in Pinellas County. The Countywide Plan allows for the incorporation of land use and development patterns that are key to supporting TOD. It has established goals and strategies that are meant to preserve the character of existing neighborhoods while allowing more intense growth and development in areas where transportation infrastructure that supports TOD already exists or is planned, including along the priority investment corridors. Through Advantage Pinellas, the transportation component comes into play. As a Metropolitan Planning Organization, Forward Pinellas is responsible for prioritizing projects to receive federal funding. By identifying these priority investment corridors in Advantage Pinellas, they will be prioritized to receive funding, which will support the incorporation of transit service and TOD efforts. This interrelationship of The Countywide Plan and Advantage Pinellas enables the incorporation of TOD at the local level.
One of the priority investment corridors identified in the Land Use Strategy Map is the Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Corridor. Construction of BRT stations is currently underway; as the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) will be offering limited stop, premium transit service along this corridor by 2022 through local, state and federal funding commitments. The service, known as the SunRunner, will provide quicker access from downtown St. Petersburg, through South Pasadena, to St. Pete Beach. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) also awarded a separate grant for PSTA to develop a TOD Strategic Plan for the corridor. PSTA has partnered with Forward Pinellas and the Cities of St. Petersburg and South Pasadena to develop the Plan, which will focus on examining the land use patterns surrounding the corridor and station areas. The goal of the Plan is to encourage TOD supportive development along the corridor while supporting the success of existing and future businesses and creating a destination for both residents and visitors.
To support current and future TOD efforts, we put together a number of resources for local governments interested in learning more about TOD and how they can promote TOD within their communities. Resources include:
- A whitepaper that outlines key challenges and opportunities of TOD, such as locating and creating a market for TOD, funding service and increasing ridership, and equity considerations. It also features case study examples around the country and highlights key next steps for local governments within Pinellas County to consider when trying to implement TOD within their communities. These include reviewing comprehensive plans to identify potential limitations to TOD and amending policies accordingly and considering the incorporation of TOD supportive land development regulations.
- A video highlighting TOD projects around the world, around the state, and within Pinellas County.
- Powerpoint presentations highlighting local TOD projects and different TOD approaches and research efforts.
The goal of these resources is to help communities plan for better connectivity, safety, and mobility through the creation of an integrated transportation network that is both equitable and efficient. Through the incorporation of TOD, people can get from their homes to their place of business and essential services more easily, without reliance on a personal vehicle. It is a method of bringing development and transit together; increasing accessibility for everyone from the business executive to the retail associate. It provides the opportunity for direct access to convenient and reliable transit service that appeals to those that choose to take transit and those that may not have another option. Through the incorporation of equitable TOD practices, we can ensure that all income levels can afford to live in areas with increased premium transit access and combat displacement due to increased property values that are often associated with the incorporation of TOD. Through these efforts we can create a more connected county and promote a better quality of life for all. For more information on TOD, please visit our website at: https://forwardpinellas.org/knowledge-exchange-series/.