Equitable Transit-Oriented Development - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Equitable Transit-Oriented Development

New opportunities for people of all incomes to live near transit

MPC is advocating for policies, funding and planning that advances development near transit—known as transit-oriented development, or TOD—for people of all incomes, in neighborhoods across the region.


Just 21 percent of the region's jobs and 8 percent of its population are located within a quarter-mile of rapid transit.

Metropolitan Chicago grew by just 0.22 percent a year between 2010 and 2013, far outpaced by peer cities. While the Loop and select neighborhoods are growing, most places in the city—as distinct as Lincoln Park and Englewood—have lost population. Reversing this trend is critically important: More people will mean more home sales, construction jobs, local purchases, and tax revenue to support retail, city services and infrastructure. 

Data from the U.S. Census demonstrates just how important the transit system is for low-income residents: workers in the city of Chicago with incomes under the poverty line were 29% more likely to take transit to work versus those with incomes above. Of commuters taking transit, a full 12% had earnings below the poverty line, versus only 7% of those driving to work. Effective development ought to ensure that all people have reliable transportation choices that connect where they live to where good jobs are available. 

The question is not whether we want to grow; it’s how we want to grow. Both to strengthen our economy and promote equity, we need to provide people of all incomes with more options to live in stable and growing communities; more commercial development and jobs in communities where population has been stagnant or shrinking; and development that builds on assets that connect our entire city, such as our riverways and public transportation network. 


Development near transit is Chicago's ticket to equitable growth

MPC encourages growth near public transit to create thriving, balanced and mixed income communities. Our agenda emphasizes reducing the barriers to equitable development near transit through robust public engagement, education, providing technical assistance and advocating for policy change.

MPC’s Equitable Transit-Oriented Development (ETOD) work includes:

Elevated Chicago

MPC is a founding member of Elevated Chicago, a collaborative effort to improve equity, health and climate resilience through equitable TOD. L-Evated Chicago is made possible by support from the Strong, Prosperous, and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC). 

Corridor Development Initiative

The Corridor Development Initiative (CDI) is a participatory planning process that allows communities to proactively plan for real world development scenarios. This three-part planning process helps residents understand issues such as density, affordable housing and the true cost of development, while creating a set of priorities to guide community leaders as they plan for future development in their neighborhoods. Our most recent CDI took place in winter 2018 in Woodlawn. 

Grow Chicago Calculator 

MPC's TOD Calculator offers residents, community groups and developers the ability to analyze the impact of development by neighborhood. The site also illustrates which parcels in the city qualify for the TOD ordinance's benefits.


  • When people can rely on public transit to connect where they live and where jobs are available, it reduces their cost of living. In Minneapolis, the opening of a new light rail line provided residents living near stations a 50 percent increase in access to low-wage jobs.

    At a February 2018 Woodlawn CDI meeting, community members helped design plans for the future of a historic bank building

  • People living and working close to transit drive less, reducing congestion and pollution. Of employees inthe Chicago region living within a quarter mile of rail transit stations, 29.1 percent take transit to work and 10.4 percent bike or walk; of those living more than a half-mile from rail stations, just 8.5 percent take transit to work and just 2.3 percent bike or walk.
  • Equitable TOD works to guarantee that neighborhoods near transit are welcoming and livable to the widest range of the region's population as possible. According to a national study, people who moved to a transit-accessible residence from an inaccessible one saw a 6.5 percent increase in number of jobs accessible; decreases in average commute times and commute costs; and a 42 percent decline in daily vehicle miles traveled.
  • Loan funds, regulatory changes and community members all can support the goal of encouraging more of the region's development in areas near transit.
  • For more information, visit MPC's Grow Chicago Calculator

Learn more

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Center for Neighborhood Technology
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
City of Chicago
Enterprise Community Partners
Institute for Transportation and Development Policy
South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association


Minneapolis strikes again: How Chicago could revamp its parking requirements—June 2015
Land closest to Chicago's El stations most valuable in Chicago—April 2015
Why should Chicago focus growth near transit? An analysis of TOD in Chicago—April 2015
Why is Minneapolis growing almost five times faster than Chicago? It's not the weather—March 2015
Logan Square Corridor Development Initiative Final Report—January 2015
Uptown Corridor Development Initiative Final Report—August 2014

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Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616 info@metroplanning.org

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For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area's toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

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