What is the Ideal Catchment Area for TODs?

The half-mile circle has become the standard metric for focusing planning efforts and judging the impacts of transit-oriented development. A new study examines whether the half-mile circle is an effective predictor of TOD success.

"Planners and researchers use transit catchment areas—the land around stations—as geographic units for predicting ridership, assessing the impacts of transit investments and, recently, for designing transit-oriented developments (TODs)," explain Erick Guerra and Robert Cervero. "In the US, a half-mile-radius circle has become the de facto standard for rail-transit catchment areas." 

However, they note, "[t]here is surprisingly little evidence to justify any particular catchment area. Why a half mile? Why not a quarter mile or two-fifths of a mile? Is there anything special about a half mile or is this simply a convenient figure that has become an industry standard?"

In an article published in Access, the magazine of the University of California Transportation Center, the authors report the results of tests "to see whether the half-mile circle explains transit use better than other boundaries do."

Full Story: Is a Half-Mile Circle the Right Standard for TODs?


Brand new! Urban Grid City Collection

Each city has its own unique story. Commemorate where you came from or where you want to go.
Grids and Guide Red book cover

Grids & Guides

A notebook for visual thinkers. Available in red and black.

Essential Readings in Urban Planning

Planning on taking the AICP* Exam? Register for Planetizen's AICP * Exam Preparation Course to save $25.

Stay thirsty, urbanists

These sturdy water bottles are eco-friendly and perfect for urbanists on the go.