Families and Transit-Oriented Development

A best practices guidebook for creating complete communities for all ages and life stages

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Historically, the best population segments for transit-oriented development have been young professionals and empty nest adults.

The Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD), working in partnership with the Center for Cities & Schools, has prepared this best practices guidebook to help communities attract families with school-age children to transit-oriented developments, thus creating what it calls “complete communities.”

The CTOD believes the future of development is across all generations and that future livable communities will include a mix of housing, amenities, retail businesses and commercial development in a walkable neighborhood that features high-quality public transportation.


Transit-oriented Development (TOD) must be planned as part of a “complete community,” a place where all households have convenient access to quality housing, education, employment opportunities, retail, health care, places of worship, open space, recreation and transportation.

Building complete communities around transit typically requires new investment approaches and implementation partnerships, and special attention must be paid to ensure that the community remains affordable to families of various incomes.

The CTOD shares 10 core connections every transit-oriented development should have with families and provides seven detailed action steps for community planners and developers to take to in order to appeal to households with children.

While families are the focus, a recurring theme in the report revolves around the importance of encouraging cross-generational engagement opportunities so the development works for people of all ages and life stages.


This manual provides community planners and local government officials with a thorough and convincing resource about the value of encouraging robust transit-oriented development. Rather than focus on traditional residents for TOD, the manual provides key action steps for attracting families and creating a more diverse and complete age-friendly community.

Research published June 2012

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