TOD for buses? Chicago says “yes!”


Bus in downtown Chicago, where some city funds will be used to help facilitate future TOD around “high ridership, high frequency” bus routes. (Image: John W. Iwanski, Flickr)

Earlier this year, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a plan to expand the city’s TOD ordinance to apply to the city’s “high ridership, high frequency” bus routes. The policy adopted in 2013 initially applied only to areas around the city’s rail transit stations and “pedestrian streets” but this change could encourage even more bus ridership by increasing the supply of housing along major bus corridors.

To enhance bus service ahead of any changes to the TOD policy-and the new riders it could bring-this week, Mayor Emanuel announced $5 million in next year’s budget for “improvements to bus stops and at crosswalks which include designated bus lanes, new pavement and signage, better bus stop locations, and curb extensions.” (Curbed)

At the press conference announcing the new funding, the city’s Transportation Commissioner, Rebekah Scheinfeld, said “the goal is not only speedier, more reliable bus service that attracts more riders. It’s lower CTA costs, improved pedestrian safety and reduced traffic congestion.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

While TOD policies are often applied to light rail, heavy rail, and streetcar routes, it’s much less common around bus routes. Notably, California’s failed SB-827 would have allowed denser development within a quarter mile of “high-quality” bus routes statewide. But Chicago may be among the first to apply a TOD policy to normal city bus routes.

For more resources on corridor planning, visit the library, where you’ll find Planning for Transit-Supportive Development: A Practitioner’s Guide from the FTA and Performance-Based Transit-Oriented Development Typology Guidebook.

Recent TOD news

Here are a few things that have been happening this week with TOD projects across the country.

  • Los Angeles planning director discusses incentivizing transit-oriented communities (Planning Report)
  • Is TOD under attack in New York’s suburbs? (Streetsblog NYC)
  • North Berkeley BART development gains impetus after passage of new state law (Berkeleyside)
  • City of Los Angeles sued over plan to add density to Expo line (Curbed Los Angeles)