Well-planned cities are engines of growth. A city that is more competitive, with higher quality neighbourhoods, lower infrastructure, and lower CO2 emissions is a sustainable city. Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is considered an effective way to create sustainable neighbourhoods through good design combined with planning. It embraces the idea of locating housing, jobs, shops, amenities, and more around transit hubs which promote the use of public transit and non-motorised transport. In development, the good design supports high density and ensures people are not oppressed by congestion. It thus creates an urban space that accommodates hundreds of thousands of people with a good quality environment.

Mass transit systems shape the city’s form and distribution of its economic activities. Determining the shape of the mass transit network becomes central to creating a compact urban form combining core and polycentric centres well linked by transit.

World Bank has summarised Eight key principles for implementing TOD, based on global experience:

  • Align human densities, economic densities, mass transit capacity, and transit network characteristics for greater accessibility.
  • Develop compact regions for short commutes.
  • Ensure the resilience of areas connected by mass transit.
  • Plan & zone for mixed-use and mixed-income neighbourhoods at a corridor level.
  • Create vibrant and people-centric public spaces around a mass transit station.
  • Develop neighbourhoods that support walking and cycling.
  • Develop good quality, accessible, and integrated public transit.
  • Manage demand for private vehicles.


Planners specify objectives to quantify how well the system will connect households to jobs and services and provide the backbone for peak hour transit. Concentrating development in the one-kilometre radius around transit stations offers a unique opportunity to shape the city and make them more livable, efficient, and inclusive. Facilitating health, education, shopping, and recreation centres to enable neighbourhoods to thrive locally is at the core of TOD.

The 3V Approach

In Transit-Oriented Development, no size fits all. Understanding where, when, and how potential value can be created requires highlighting the importance of different stations in a mass transit network. The World Bank Group has developed a methodology called the 3V Framework based on observation of other countries:

Node Value: It describes the importance of a station in public transit network based on its passenger traffic volume, intramodality, and centrally within the network.

Place Value: It describes the quality of urban fabric around the station; in particular its pedestrian accessibility, local accessibility to shops, schools, and healthcare.

Market Potential Value: It describes the unrealised market value of station areas. It depends on demands including current and future human densities, developable land, and market vibrancy.

The framework enables policy and decision-makers with measurable indicators to understand the interaction between the economic vision for the city, its land use, and the mass transit network. It outlines planning and implementation measures for different clusters of stations that enable judicious use of limited public resources.

Copenhagen’s Finger Plans:

Copenhagen has become a paragon of urban planning and design over the decades.  The “Finger Plan” of the Copenhagen region links the municipality with surrounding regions, promotes urban growth along the rail corridors, and protects “green wedges” from development.  Urban development is allowed to take place in core urban regions and peripheral urban regions (“the palm of the hand” and “city fingers”) in association with transit options. The act endorsed the station proximity principle, offices of more than 1500 sqm to be located within 600 metres of a railway station. City-level land use planning stimulates mixed-use, high-density development around stations and limited parking infrastructure.

The green wedges region is exempted from being converted into an urban zone by the planning act. The mindset behind the peripheral green wedges is that green structures must be developed in line with the expansion.

Image Source: Danish Ministry of EnvironmentFinger Plan of Copenhagen Region


Singapore Constellation Plan: The city-state of Singapore has successfully adopted integration of transit and regional development. The urban island of 5.1 million inhabitants has embraced the Transit-Oriented Development principle having radial corridors that connect the central core with planned new towns. These towns (look like satellite planets) interconnect high-rise core, interspersed by protective green belts and a high-performance rail network.

Singapore’s progressive “transit first” policy resulted in tremendous benefits. The Vehicle Kilometre Traveled is the lowest among any urbanised regions.

Image Source: Vietnam Academy of FinanceConstellation Plan of Singapore


Growing cities can learn from the real-life examples of cities that applied Transit-Oriented Development principles in shaping their urban space and transport network. These cities have managed to spur economic growth and contribute to inclusive development.


The above article is based on: The 3V Approach: Report by World Bank



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