As the name suggests, transit-oriented development (TOD) is anchored by some form of public transportation, typically a train line. It has been tested in other big cities around the world like London and Singapore, and today, has been widely accepted as an important planning paradigm to create attractive, livable and sustainable urban developments. This new catchphrase is now hitting the Malaysian property scene with the development of MRT line and the extension of LRT line throughout Klang Valley.
The purpose of TOD is to concentrate housing and commercial development close to existing or extended transit infrastructure, hence providing an alternative to car trips. Most TOD development radiates roughly one kilometre – or lesser than 10 minutes walking distance – from its anchoring rail station.
With Malaysia joining the bandwagon, it’s important to find out the features of a successful TOD so we can know if it is actually benefitting the public.
Here are some of the traits that gauges the victory of a TOD:
1 Lesser traffic congestion
There’s no doubt that the traffic situation in Kuala Lumpur needs serious help. Sometimes, we jokingly address our roads and highways as one big parking lot. Therefore, with better public transportation system, the public will be encouraged to take the train lines instead of driving. With greater convenience and lower cost for public transportation, people are forced to make the smarter decision of using trains to reach their destination. This will deliberately reduce the traffic congestion and contribute to the success of TODs.
Being pedestrian-friendly is the most significant characteristic of TODs. High-quality walking environments are vital for promoting the use of transit facilities. Easy and nearby access and walking routes, comfortable and enjoyable streetscapes as well as vibrant and interactive public spaces encourage people to take mass transit instead of relying on their private vehicles. Besides that, bicycling facilities are also included to promote alternative travel options and encourage shared parking facilities. Therefore, if TODs in Klang Valley are equipped with these features, then it’s automatically seen as a successful TOD.
One of the most important traits of a successful TOD is that it has to be well-integrated with other facilities. The public should be able to travel anywhere within a TOD in ease without the need to drive. Therefore, with proper planning and good integration, people can move around conveniently and efficiently. In addition, malls, schools, offices and public spaces should also be well-integrated giving the public the need to not travel far to reach to these places.
4 Concentrated development and mix uses
TOD is synonym with concentrated development promoting mixed uses and residential densities of at least 12 to 15 units per acre. Most structures are designed at medium-to-high unit density where residential density thresholds are often necessary to guarantee a certain population in the area to support local businesses. In addition to that, TOD policies also promote increased employment and population concentrations, and a mix of uses that encourage pedestrian activity throughout the day. A mixture of such land uses enhances the local economy by densifying and diversifying the design of the community. Such mixed-use neighbourhoods favour short trips by foot or bike. Having all these ensure that the TOD is successful.
4 Better livability
Another point that measures the success of a TOD is its livability. An environment that’s vibrant and liveable with sustainable communities are seen as something that appeals to today’s generation. The public is looking to eliminate the stress of travelling on congested roads and highways, more public spaces that encourage walking as well as convenient access to public facilities and amenities. All these can be achieved with good TODs, and in the long run it contributes to better quality of life, health and productivity within the society.
Written by Rubaa Shunmuganathan