NVTC Comments: Research Strategic Plan should address role of land use in supporting transit, including Metro

Hon. Matt de Ferranti, Chair
Northern Virginia Transportation Commission

Chair de Ferranti, and Board members:

The Coalition for Smarter Growth is glad to see NVTC developing a Strategic Research Plan and applauds the research to date, such as the Climate Benefits of Transit on your agenda tonight.

We ask NVTC to include a robust land use and housing component in its Research plan. 

Including analysis of land use and housing in your research is essential for developing strategies to maximize future transit ridership. A focused transit-oriented development strategy has multiple benefits for transit ridership, efficient transit services, increasing the tax base available to fund services like transit, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving access to jobs and opportunity, and ensuring our economic competitiveness. You can draw upon past research and findings in the following reports: 

  • Scenario analysis, such as WMATA’s 2015 ConnectGreaterWashington study and TPB’s Long-Range Plan Task Force, have shown that transit-supportive and balanced land use is the single most important strategy to improve regional accessibility. 
  • Achieving the 2019 adopted regional housing targets, which include locating 75% of new units in activity centers near transit, would reduce traffic congestion in the region by 20%, according to TPB.
  • Infill housing dramatically improves the climate benefits of transit. Regional scenarios by RMI showed that feasible transit-oriented development and infill housing in Denver, Austin and Charlotte would reduce total regional emissions by up to 14%. Other benefits include more housing to meet demand, protection of regional open space, and significant savings in water and building energy use. 

Therefore, we suggest this addition to NVTC’s Strategic Research Plan:

Housing goals, transit stations & high-frequency bus lines analysis

  • Analysis of building permit data, market affordable housing, new dedicated units in Northern Virginia transit station areas and along high-frequency bus corridors. 
  • Comparison of above findings with demographic data on who uses NoVA transit and with local and regional housing goals, 
  • Scenario analysis of transit-oriented housing strategies, examining impacts on ridership, household transportation costs, job accessibility, tax revenues, and other factors.

We look forward to supporting NVTC’s work and opportunities for collaboration.  


Stewart Schwartz
Executive Director

Sonya Breehey
Northern VA Advocacy Manager

Bill Pugh
Senior Policy Fellow