Success Cases (1999-2014)

Promoting Transit-Oriented Development in China

Promoting Transit-Oriented Development in China

China’s urban congestion, brought about by the rapid growth of cities, is now firmly at the forefront of the public’s attention.

Congestion problems reflect haphazard urban planning. Cities can no longer grow under a model that encourages large roads and “super blocks.” Adoption of Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) principles in city planning, integrated with public transportation and green transport planning, will lead to urban development that optimizes the use of land and creates functional, compact, and livable cities.

Many TOD principles have already been applied in developed countries. A TOD area has at its center a high capacity transit station (rail transport, high-speed bus lane, major transport transfer hub) with high density, mixed residential and commercial development in the surrounding 400–800 meter radius, which is the distance that commuters are typically willing to walk to get to the nearest transport hub. A TOD area is also equipped with non-motorized transportation facilities.

TOD has been a priority for the China Sustainable Cities Program (CSCP) since 2008. The strategy has three components: pilot projects, providing technical support for policy formulation, and providing technical capacity training and publicity.

In 2010, CSCP, in cooperation with Peter Calthorpe—known as “the father of TOD”—and the Kunming municipal government, launched the first pilot project in Chenggong, Kunming. In 2013, the Kunming municipal planning board approved the “Chenggong Core Area Regulatory Detailed Planning,” which incorporates TOD principles. Construction of the core area should be completed in 5–10 years.

To test TOD principles under different conditions, CSCP chose for its second pilot the Yuelai Eco-city Core Area in the mountainous city of Chongqing. The Chongqing municipal planning board approved the “Core Area Regulatory Detailed Plan” and the project is moving into the implementation stage.

CSCP also supported research into the application of TOD principles in the planning of larger-scale prototype projects, such as Chongqing’s Liangjiang New Area and Yuzhong peninsula area.

In 2012, Chenggong and Yuelai were each awarded 50 million RMB in ecological urban development subsidies. Building on this success, CSCP initiated new pilot projects in Jinan, Zhuhai, Xiamen and Hefei.

CSCP is also vigorously promoting development of national-level legal standards and policies supportive of TOD. In 2014, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development began work on a “Guidance for TOD Planning,” which will be used as a reference for all levels of government.

In March 2014, the State Council published its New National Urbanization Plan 2014- 2020, the highest-level government document to call for TOD. Coming from the State Council, the plan is likely to have a deep impact on China’s future development pattern, steering it toward more intensive, low-carbon urbanization.

It’s an exciting time for the sustainable urbanization community in China. There’s still a lot of work to do, but progressive concepts are gradually gaining ground.


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