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Press release

11 MAY 2018

Access to transport is key to the success of TODs in India

The key to success for Transit Oriented Developments (TODs) in India is a good transit network, without which the model will not work. This was the consensus at an event recently hosted by the RICS School of Built Environment, Amity University, where key influencers gathered to discuss emerging issues in India and suggest possible solutions.

This event is part of an on-going series of dialogues to try and find possible solutions to problems facing India’s built environment.

Transit Oriented Development (TOD) is a term used to define a mixed-use development within walking and cycling radius of a mass transit station. This type of development model has been adopted by cities globally to integrate land use and transit in an efficient way.

The key take away from parties that attended the event was that, for the TOD model to work in India, transport infrastructure must first be developed and related policies integrated at the centre and state levels.

No success without transit

The example of Canary Wharf, a commercial district in East London, United Kingom, to underline the importance of transit in a TOD model. The success of the Wharf is intrinsically linked to transport and access. The first phase of Canary Wharf (1987–1992) failed and the company which developed it went bankrupt because it could not convince its future tenants to take the leap of faith to develop a connective infrastructure.

"In 1987, all of East London was underdeveloped. Canary Wharf was like building a new city. It was connected by one train, which ran every twenty minutes. The first phase of the project failed because of absence of transport and access. Canary Wharf eventually went through three different TOD’s. I believe that transit has to come first in any TOD. Whether it comes in full scale or whether it grows over a period of time is about strategy, density and what kind of movement you are looking at." Vinay Kapoor, CEO, West Court Real Estate Pvt Development
Managing Director of the Indian Railway Station Development Corporation, Sanjeev Kumar Lohia, agreed that TODs cannot succeed without transit.
"n Surat, three levels of government have come together to form a joint venture to integrate development and make a seamless multi-modal transport hub to maximise value creation." Sanjeev Kumar Lohia, Managing Director, Indian Railway Station Development Corporation
Head of the Transport Department at SPA Delhi, Dr Sanjay Gupta, also agreed that integrated transport infrastructure is a must.
"We must develop last-mile connectivity to metro stations. People travel six to seven kms to reach public transport — this should not be the case. Metro stations should not have parking spaces and car usage around metro stations should be curbed by disincentivising it. We need to look into these issues to make TODs work." Dr Sanjay Gupta, HOD, Transport Department, SPA Delhi

Policy & investment

One of the biggest challenges is translating policy into practice. While this can be implemented in new cities, such as Amaravati, the government will have to think of solutions for existing cities and towns.

Securing approvals is one of the major pain points in designing a TOD. While a single-window clearance for approvals may not happen in India, government could perhaps look at achieving something closer to single-window system.

"We have been talking about a unified metropolitan transport authority for cities. It does not seem to be coming into existence. I see it as an important element in the process of integrating transit with what best can be done. Ideally, most residents should not have to travel beyond a certain point except for work. It all links to capacities at the urban-local body level. We need to build capacity at the local level, so they can translate policy into action." Dr M Ramachandran, IAS (Retd) and former Union Urban Development Secretary
The topic of monetisation was also broached, and the proposition that foreign investment should be allowed in Transfer Development Rights (TDRs).


It is important to remember that not all locations classify as a TOD. Development is a sequential activity to the transit network, which necessitates classification of TODs through TOD qualifiers. These qualifiers can be widely adopted for the 5D concept: density, distance, diversity, design and destinations.