Northeast Ohio’s transportation and water quality agency, NOACA has plans to rank developments for transit access and walkability with the aim of improving links between high frequency transit stops and their community.
NOACA posted an RFP on its website looking for a firm to help them create a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Scorecard and Implementation Plan.
TOD generally follows principles that promote walking and reduce the need for driving. NOACA plans to encourage those seeking funding to highlight the presence of transit and follow some of TOD's golden rules.
“This scorecard would lay out all of the necessary elements for successful TOD planning and development within a ¼ to 1 mile radius of rail stations, bus corridors, and transit centers,” they explain.
“Transit effectiveness relies heavily on compact mixed-use development, which has been said to possess the 3 ‘Ds’ of density, diversity (e.g. mix of uses, age cohorts, income groups), and design (pedestrian scale and orientation).”
NOACA first plans to build a database (aka Typology) of all train and priority bus stations. It will use that to decide on a guideline of transit supportive decisions on infrastructure investments.
What benefit does the agency see in doing this?
“Pedestrian‐ and bike‐friendly TOD has numerous public benefits including decreased congestion, a greater range of housing options, fewer emissions, and improved public health by creating walkable neighborhoods that promote physical activity.”
NOACA expects the TOD Plan to include specific policies that cities can adopt to help developments rank higher in the Scorecard. For example, zoning policies like parking minimums or restricting housing units per acre (density) too low can act as barriers to a developer who might want build a TOD.
NOACA hinted it might consider incentives for those developments that innovate or follow the TOD Scorecard. The agency expects the Plan to identify which funding streams grantees would tap from NOACA’s $40 million annual budget if a project adheres to the plan.
In short, NOACA expects to have a plan in 12 months with specific recommendations about what works in Northeast Ohio. When explaining diversity, NOACA gets into its goals to tie TOD with an Aging in Place Strategy (another deliverable).
An existing TOD Scorecard has been used in Cleveland—the $125 million Uptown development was awarded a Silver from the international body that created this standard. NOACA expects to use the scorecard across the region and establish metrics specific to local market conditions. They are asking the right questions in the RFP: What will make transit ridership improve as a result? And does the development make it easier to walk and bike to the station are perhaps the two most important.
The TOD Scorecard and Implementation Plan fits within the agency’s recent pivot—a 2015 round of funding included an increase ($40 million) for transit projects. The agency is also working on a Strategic Plan that calls for more sustainability within its investments.