Transit-Oriented Development

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Transit-Oriented Development: Planning Tool for Sustainable and Affordable Urban Development

Case of Delhi


Urbanization all over the world is causing concern not only amongst the urban planners but also amongst the world leaders, particularly in the developing world. The three ‘P s associated with urbanization, that is, population, poverty, and pollution are major problems that require relatively low-cost affordable solutions. Cities all over the world are facing problems of people migrating to cities seeking better opportunities for various reasons, ranging from poverty related issues to political. The appalling conditions in slums render access to clean water and health services far from affordable, thereby resulting in various environmental hazards. Densification of central areas within the cities causes extreme traffic congestion, air pollution, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and climate change considerations. Planning intervention is required to bring in some kind of symmetry in the quality of life in cities which requires capital-intensive investment from the private sector and a slew of tax incentives/ reforms from the government sector. Due to depressed real estate market, large investments in redevelopment of cities are unlikely. What then is a viable solution making city development sustainable and, at the same time, affordable.

 Advent of Transit- Oriented Development

Solutions for the redevelopment and regeneration of cities have to evolve from within. Redevelopment should result in community development that includes a mix of housing, offices, shops, and other amenities integrated within walkable neighbourhoods and located within easy reach of public transportation centres.

Such development/redevelopment is called transit-oriented development (TOD). It brings with it a relatively low cost and affordable solutions to property development as residents themselves are stakeholders/ partners in the redevelopment/ regeneration of the area. They contribute in terms of property/ land parcels and partial cost of construction, whereas a private developer brings in investment in lieu of additional floor area made available to him by stakeholders/ state/local bodies by way of development control regulations. It is an alliance of convenience. TOD is seen as a relatively low-cost solution to problems ranging from housing affordability, traffic congestion, to global warming.

 What is TOD?

 TOD as a concept is not new. Historically, cities have grown rapidly along transportation networks, may it be railways or roads and internal networks within the cities. Before the arrival of automobiles, cities were compact and had mixed-land uses. Most of the development was around the transit routes because it provided better accessibility.

In the Indian scenario, Mumbai is a good case in point as the city expanded in a linear fashion along the railway lines, that is, along the central and western railway routes. This is one of the major reasons why the local trains are crucial to the survival of Mumbai city.

Similarly, the city of Jaipur, though planned in a gridiron pattern, uses a compact mix-use development along the major roads and streets. Therefore, TOD in many ways is just another name for traditional urban development.

Why TOD?

In the past, life in towns moved at a slow pace and was socially more satisfying. Today the situation has changed. Urban cities are facing severe problems, such as traffic congestion, air pollution, and the uncertainties of climate change conditions.

In addition to this, large-scale migration to the cities has intensified the existing problem. Living in highly segregated urban neighbourhoods causes changes in lifestyle and within the social fabric as well. Given a chance, migrants may like to live in a mixed land use environment where people-to people contact is easy, thereby enhancing social security and safety. Cities are also investing a lot in transit systems, such as metros, bus rapid transit (BRT) system, new rail roads or the extension of old ones. As TOD also propagates high-density misuse development, TOD is modern-day version of a traditional, core city planning development.

National Policy on TOD

Taking into consideration the importance of TOD in the national context, the government has announced a policy, ‘National Transit Oriented Development’, dedicated to this. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India, has announced a framework to promote development near mass urban transit corridors for addressing urbanization challenges. It seeks to promote TOD which enables people to live within walking or cycling distance from metros, monorail, and BRT corridors, etc. This policy will help states and union territories to understand TOD as a sustainable and affordable solution to many of the challenges, such as excessive urban growth, rapidly rising private vehicles on roads, pollution, housing choices, etc.

A community with a strong and dependable transit system and streetscaping elements can discourage vehicle dependence and congestion. In the new metro policy drafted by the government, TOD has been made mandatory and prioritized for receiving central assistance. Doing so will promote integration of land use planning with transportation and infrastructure development to avoid long-distance travel in cities. TOD is, essentially, about compact development as against the present pattern of unplanned and haphazard urban growth.

The union government’s TOD policy will help the states in developing an in-depth understanding of the challenges currently faced by the cities. TOD policy aims at inclusive development in the form of a range of housing choices, including affordable housing and ensuring spaces for street vendors. If properly executed, TOD could emerge as a means of financing mass transit projects for which the demand is growing. Financial needs for TOD will be met by channelizing a part of property values resulting from investments in transit corridors through betterment levies and value-capture financing tools.

The central government has notified the TOD policy in 2015, but there was no clarity on the process for the management of open spaces, various sanctions, parking space, water requirement, etc.

TOD in Delhi

The TOD policy proposed by Delhi Master Plan will mark a paradigm shift in the way neighbourhoods and cities, in general, are planned thus heralding a new way of linking urban systems with day to- day living such that people can spend more quality time socially and in pursuing recreational activities rather than getting stuck in traffic jams, a major concern on roads toady.

Taking the master plan directive forward, the TOD policy designates a maximum, up to 500 m-wide, belt (i.e., approximately 5-minute walking distance) on both sides of the centre line of the mass rapid transit system (MRTS) corridor as the ‘TOD Zone’, with the exception of areas falling under low-density residential areas (LDRA). TOD zone is a new land use category that allows flexibility in a mix of various possible uses, with the exception of polluting and potentially hazardous uses.

The goal of the TOD Zone is to promote low-carbon high-density sustainable development in the city. The policy has the following major aspects:

ƒ. Allow flexibility of uses within the overall ambit of the zonal development plan.

ƒ. Mixed use of provisions to reduce travel demand and reduce pressure on road-based travel.

ƒ. Optimum floor area ratio (FAR) and density norms to facilitate people to live, work, and seek entertainment within walking distance from stations. These will also seek to balance/ redistribute densities over the city along the MRTS corridors.

ƒ. Creation of finer road networks within neighbourhoods/ development areas for safer and easy movement of nonmotorized transport (NMT) and pedestrians. A mix in income arising due to greater community integration. The more people share public spaces, greens, recreational facilities, and amenities, the more the economy will improve.

ƒ. Increase in public safety, especially for women and children using public transportation or walking at night. These changes can be brought about by revising the key development code and including aspects, such as revised setback norms, dispensing with boundary walls, having built-to-edge buildings with active frontages which provide ‘eyes on the street’.

ƒ. Strict planning and regulation of on-street parking shall be undertaken to reduce use of private vehicles. ƒ. Approval of projects shall be given through a single-window software-based system to reduce processing time, thereby enabling a fast-paced (re) development to take place.

Figure 1: An artist’s vision of TOD project at Karkardooma, East Delhi

East-Delhi Hub: The Karkardooma Project

The Delhi Development Authority proposes to develop a green field TOD

Figure 2: Location of the East-Delhi hub

project on 30 ha of land near Karkardooma area. Two major metro lines pass through the proposed site. It is strategically located near Anand Vihar ISBT and the railway station. The entire complex will act as an integrated passenger terminal for the entire East Delhi area and the NCR. The entire project is proposed to be developed on the TOD principle as stipulated in Chapter 12, ‘Transportation’, of the Delhi Master Plan. It is named as an

Figure 3: Designing for better connectivity and safety

‘East Delhi hub’. It will be developed as an integrated commercial/offices/ residential complex.

Energy Conservation Strategy

 Building blocks are oriented in such a way that every block gets at least two hours sunlight even on the shortest of winter days, the winter solstice. Planning and design based on TOD principles provides an opportunity to create energy-efficient buildings.


Residential and commercial buildings and vehicular transportation are the biggest contributors of pollutants in cities. Construction of tall concrete buildings with huge glass facades and reduction in open spaces have resulted in the absence of optimum, diffused natural light and ventilation. In case of most of the modern buildings, about 70% is utilized for lighting and air conditioning. Similarly, in the transportation sector, old buses must be replaced with electric and hybrid buses to control the polluting emissions occurring due to outdated machinery. Introduction of the BRT system in cities supported by TOD development in the surrounding areas will increase commuters in public transport. Urban sprawl is always associated with large carbon footprint, planning tools, such as rezoning and provision of efficient MRTS to encourage TOD in the surrounding areas can discourage an urban sprawl-like development. TOD has the capacity and capability to herald urban development/redevelopment and regeneration of the urban areas. Central city areas which are congested and lack in community/ open spaces are most suitable areas for TOD-based planning and redevelopment. Participation of local residents and stakeholders is crucial for the success of the project and to make TOD based planning sustainable and affordable.

source- GRIHA Shashwat Magazine