The Effects of Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) in Denver, Colorado

Authors: Andrew Goetz*, University of Denver
Topics: Transportation Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: transit-oriented development, Denver, urban centers
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Coolidge, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper chronicles Denver's efforts to reintroduce rail transit and change its urban development trajectory from low-density automobile-oriented decentralized growth to higher-density transit-oriented urban centers. Especially through the FasTracks transit expansion program, Denver now has over 100 miles (160km) of rail and bus rapid transit in operation, with additional lines under construction. There has been a considerable amount of TOD activity in Denver, particularly in the downtown area and around Union Station, but its overall effect on urban form has been slow to emerge. Recent studies have shown increased shares of housing and employment in urban centers and increased shares of commercial and multifamily residential land use along transit corridors in comparison to the rest of the metro area. Yet, as of 2014, only 10 percent of housing and 36 percent of employment are located in an urban center. Effects on travel behavior are even more muted. Transit mode share for commuting in the region has remained low (4 percent) while driving alone increased to 76 percent. Transit mode share for commuting to downtown Denver, however, is much higher (41 percent) and exceeds that for driving alone (38 percent). Despite the slow progress in achieving regional goals, TOD is having an impact on creating active and vibrant neighborhoods in Denver. There is very strong demand for living in TOD areas, and the mixed-use, pedestrian and bicycle-friendly character of many TODs is attractive for residents, businesses and employees alike.

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