Highly useful transit routes, where buses come often and run for many hours of the day, typically attract transit-oriented development (TOD).

Most TODs have a diverse mix of uses like housing, jobs, retail, and entertainment, all within walking distance of a transit stop.  As long as a transit route has frequent service (buses that come at least every 15 minutes for most of the day), TODs may occur.  As they develop, these walkable areas are likely to include less parking than is typical because when a person’s daily needs (like grocery stores) are within a short walk or transit ride of their home, they are less likely to use a car to make those trips.  To learn more about TOD and what it is, check out this handy infographic.

Benefits of Transit-Oriented Development

Neighborhoods with good transit service have more stable property values, and they sometimes command premium prices.


Frequent, reliable transit service improves access to jobs, education, and healthcare for low-income people and working families.


TOD is more densely populated and more valuable per acre than conventional single-use neighborhoods, so it generates more state and local tax revenue and costs less to serve.

The TOD Heat Map

2015 marked the completion of a regional TOD Strategic Plan.  Its purpose is to comprehensively analyze potential future locations for TOD.  As noted in that plan, research indicates that transit alone will not lead to redevelopment if the fundamentals necessary to support market-based real estate investment are not present. However, in areas with strong market fundamentals, rapid transit access can enhance the viability of real estate investment and development. This is especially true in “cooler” market locations, such as Indianapolis, where public investment may be necessary to catalyze private sector investment. This is why transit is considered a market enhancer, but not a market maker by itself.

Two factors measure the important aspects of an area’s TOD potential: TOD Readiness and Market Strength.

The TOD Readiness rating includes variables that are quantitative, objective measures of an area’s physical readiness for transit oriented development. These measure features of an area that are expensive or impractical to change including:

  • Employment density, which has a strong correlation with TOD and transit ridership
  • Employment density with transit preference, which includes certain employment sectors that have a stronger tendency to locate near transit
  • Population per square mile
  • Gross residential density
  • Residential vacancy rate
  • Sidewalk to street ratio, or the percent of total road frontage that has existing sidewalks
  • Intersections per square mile, which is a common measure of walkability and connectivity
  • Average block length – shorter blocks improve pedestrian access and walkability
  • Physical barriers to development and connectivity within a station area (rivers, streams, large non-conducive land uses,
    highways, elevation changes)

The Market Strength rating is a measure of the current real estate market’s ability to support transit oriented development.

  • Walk score®, which measures the “walkability” or proximity to common services and amenities, in addition to other useful factors.
  • Retail sales
  • Percentage of Baby Boomers and Generation Y near analyzed intersections, as compared with a regional average of 52%
  • Median household income
  • Average residential rents
  • Median home value for occupied homes
  • Distance to the Central Business District, which strongly correlates with public transportation use and TOD potential
  • Housing + transportation affordability including both housing costs and place- and location-driven transportation costs.
  • Land assembly – opportunity for land to be acquired and aggregated for new development and redevelopment
  • Major trip generators – those that can generate over 5,000 visitors in a day, at least once per year (airports, large shopping malls, hotels, major entertainment and sports venues, convention centers, etc.)

A composite of these ratings was created and shown for each potential station location in the “heat map” (below). The “hottest” locations for TOD, or those with the best potential to generate further investment after transit improvements take place, are shown in dark red. The “coolest” locations are shown in light blue. Scores for the entire Indy Connect system evaluated thus far (along rapid transit corridors) range from a low of 33 to a high of 253.

TOD heat map displaying analysis results throughout the region. Dark red indicates intersections with strong TOD potential, light blue indicates weaker intersections.

Find more information about the TOD Strategic Plan