Coordination of Public Transit Services and Investments with Affordable Housing Policies

Public transit serves many societal objectives. Among these, one of the most important is to provide mobility options to disadvantaged populations, including economically disadvantaged and those without access to automobiles. There has always been recognition among transit planners and researchers of the importance of coordinating transportation, transit, and land use planning. This typically involves trying to increase densities and encouraging mixed land uses near higher capacity transit services, through Transit Oriented Development (TOD) or Joint Development projects. However, in the last ten years, there has been an increased sensitivity concerning the equity implications of transit services and investments, and in parallel a growing recognition by researchers of the urban dynamics leading to increased gentrification in cities and to the suburbanization of poverty. As city cores become more vibrant and offer more services, they become more attractive, in particular to higher income population segments that can bid up land value and rents, which in turn forces lower income populations out of traditional neighborhoods towards suburban locations. It turns out that accessibility to high capacity transit is one of the features that makes locations more attractive, resulting in the sad irony that transit investments end up, as a result of the above dynamic, not serving as well as was envisioned those that would be most likely benefit from the transit investments. A growing number of researchers have highlighted the combined dynamic of urban gentrification and suburbanization of poverty (Hulchanski), and of the transit / affordable housing dilemma (Lownes, Kramer). There has been at the same time, much emphasis on understanding and addressing the equity implications of transit, as exemplified by an increased focus on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that protects people from discrimination in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance, and these have been articulated in related federal mandates. As a result of this increased focus, there has been considerable research on equity and accessibility measures, as well as practical guidance on how to assess the equity implications of transit decisions and investments. A parallel effort among affordable housing and community development practitioners, known as equitable TOD (eTOD), has also developed in the last few years as a counter to traditional TOD projects to operationalize the important connection between transportation, neighborhood stability and affordable housing. However, there has been little systematic practical guidance for transit agencies and their external partners, to identify approaches and practical tools that could be used to coordinate transit (in terms of both investments and services) and affordable housing policies and programs. The organizational challenges are considerable since transit is primarily organized on a regional basis, while housing policies are generally municipal, and planners for each tend to work in independent silos. When major new transit investments (e.g., for subways or Light Rail Transit) are being planned, there are often efforts to develop secondary area plans around transit stations to encourage TOD, and in some cases these provide for inclusionary zoning requirements as well. Such efforts to coordinate existing transit services and affordable housing policies are disparate, local and ad-hoc in nature. The goal of this synthesis is to identify the potential mechanisms (both policies and programs) to coordinate public transit (both services and capital investments) with construction, operation, protection and preservation of affordable housing. The study will synthesize the state of the practice of transit system coordination with affordable housing initiatives in the broader sense [including but not limited to transit oriented development (TOD)].


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $45000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project J-07, Topic SB-34

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Transit Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Transit Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Garcia-Colberg, Mariela

  • Performing Organizations:

    MZ Strategies, LLC

  • Principal Investigators:

    Zimmerman, Mariia

  • Start Date: 20201006
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01836063
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project J-07, Topic SB-34
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Feb 17 2022 11:29AM