TOD Database

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An example of TOD Database in use.


Created by the Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD), the National TOD Database provides detailed population and employment data for every existing and proposed fixed guideway transit station in the United States (as of October 2011). The database organizes information into a simple map format and allows you to examine economic and demographic data at the levels of single transit zone, collection of transit zones, or larger transit region. This allows planners and other government officials to study the population at a particular station, compare stations, and see how demographics around stations have changed over time.

How it Works

The TOD Database contains nearly 70,000 data characteristics from thousands of stations. It aggregates data from six sources:

Selecting a station allows the user to view a variety of reports, including journey to work, vehicle ownership, household income, and more. You can also create a custom report by picking individual datasets from each of the six sources and combining them. These reports can be downloaded in Word, Excel, or CSV format. Additionally, you can download a CSV file containing names and locations of all stations in a region.

Station Areas

The Federal Transit Administration’s National Transit Database provided an initial list of stations, and information has since been updated using GTFS data. The database includes heavy rail, light rail, commuter rail, streetcars, and cable cars, along with dedicated right-of-way bus rapid transit and certain Amtrak lines frequently used by commuters. Proposed and planned stations are also included. Proposed stations include FTA New Starts in the Project Development phase and locally funded projects for which stations have been selected. Planned stations include New Starts in at least the Preliminary Engineering phase and locally funded projects that have entered construction.

A chart illustrating the multiple station geographies. Source: TOD Database User Guide

Station Geography

The TOD Database displays geographic information at three different levels:

  • Transit Zone - A transit zone is the half-mile radius around a station, representing the area around the station reasonably considered to be walkable. For more granular research, the zone can be narrowed to a quarter-mile radius.
  • Transit Shed - A transit shed is a collection of stations. You can select stations individually or look at an entire line, system, or region. Existing and potential stations can be combined into a single shed. Transit zones often overlap within a shed, and when they do the database controls for that fact so that information is not double-counted.
  • Transit Region - Transit regions are larger geographies determined by Census County boundaries.


Transit Operators

Because the database contains information for stations all across California (and beyond), transit operators can use it not just to compare stations within their system, but to benchmark their performance against agencies in other parts of the state. Station area profiles can be used to create station typologies and enhance site targeting. Operators can use mode to work data to help assess system efficiency.


Transportation planners can use the mode to work and Census Transportation Planning Package (CTPP) information included in the database to analyze travel trends across various demographics. This lets you update travel demand models and plan future routes. Planners can also identify underutilized areas in which to prioritize development. Data on car ownership and other factors can help influence Transportation Demand Management programs.

Case Studies

  • Los Angeles station typologies - In Los Angeles, CTOD worked with Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metro to analyze the city's current and proposed rail stations. CTOD created a typology in which stations were sorted based on the number of residents and workers in the half mile radius around stations and mix of land uses. This typology was useful in measuring development along rail lines. The report found that the land around stations in LA is generally highly developed, but there is room for the city to increase active transportation infrastructure.[1]
  • Grading California's Rail Transit Station Areas - When the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE) at the UC Berkeley School of Law set out to grade California rail stations, they turned to 11 sources for data. The TOD Database provided information on transit use, density, and affordability. Station areas were given points based on their ranking on these metrics and eventually given a letter grade. The final report, issued by Next 10, identified the best- and worst-performing stations in various systems across the state.[2]

TOD Database


Additional Reading

TOD Database User Guide

This 9-section guide gives background on the tool's data, contains illustrated directions on assembling and downloading reports, and presents additional practical applications and case studies. There is also a glossary and FAQ to help you navigate the database.