Compact development has been proven to reshape urban Transportation patterns – both in ridership and infrastructure. By better integrating transit into developments, communities have seen a shift from roads to rails as ridership numbers grow (Makarewicz and Benedict). This reduces the need for streets, allowing development to further focus on transit infrastructure and pedestrian corridors (Cervero). Yet, while TODs inherently provide a strong alternative to automobile travel, neighborhoods do not need transit to encourage non-automotive modes. The compact, walkable, mixed-use designs of TNDs – and some suburban retrofits – encourage pedestrian and bicycle travel where cars once dominated, whether transit is present or not (Coogan, Karash, Adler and Sallis).
According to a study of King County, Washington, residents of the most walkable neighborhoods drive 26 percent fewer miles per day than those living in the most sprawling areas. A meta-analysis of many of these studies finds that households living in developments with twice the density, diversity of uses, accessible destinations and interconnected streets when compared to low-density sprawl drive about 33 percent less (Ewing et al.). Another study claims that transit ridership rates at mixed-use suburban employment centers are on average 5 percent and 10 percent higher than at single-use employment centers; and grid-like street patterns and pedestrian-friendly designs have been associated with transit-usage levels that are as much as 20 percent higher than usage levels at typical suburban subdivision designs (Cervero).
Good urban design can also provide better access to jobs by allowing workers to live closer to Transportation and by creating employment near transit nodes. According to a study of Evanston, TOD improvements allowed for 74,000 residents and 40,000 jobs within an 8-square-mile area. This enabled 40 percent of Evanston's residents to live where they worked, twice the rate of other suburbs in the region (Makarewicz and Benedict). On Chicago's West Side, the Bethel Center is a mixed-use development – operated by a community organization – that is connected to the Pulaski Green Line "El" stop. The impetus for this project came in 1992 under threats that the local El branch would close, adding insult to an economically injured neighborhood. When completed in 2005, the center itself created 100 jobs within the organization and throughout the businesses housed in the development. It also reinforced the viability of the train line, ensuring that it remained an operational portal to jobs outside the neighborhood (Grady and LeRoy).
A limitation of urban design on jobs/housing balance is that walkable communities are ineffective in isolation and must be integrated into the Transportation and employment networks of the greater region. According to a report by 1000 Friends of Oregon, "the creation of isolated new pedestrian oriented developments on vacant sites in auto-oriented suburbia will not produce the same kind of effects on mode choice that traditional neighborhoods have produced, unless the supportive pedestrian environment is integrated, through Transportation and land use planning, with proximity to a large number of employment opportunities and an adjacent network of other pedestrian oriented neighborhoods" (Parsons, Brickerhoff, Quade and Douglas).