Alternative Transportation

Existing Commercial

What is Alternative Transportation and Transit Oriented Development (TOD)?

Alternative transportation discourages dependence on the personal automobile and encourages public transportation options such as carpooling, vanpooling, busing, walking, and cycling.

Telecommuting, informal transit options, compressed workweeks, and alternative fuel vehicles such as plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) also help reduce the number of greenhouse gases produced by single occupancy vehicles.[1] Commuting to and from an average office building built to modern energy codes consumes thirty percent more energy compared to the energy the building itself consumes.[2] The location of buildings and how people get to them are important factors to consider in a building’s overall environmental impact. Transit Oriented Development (TOD) concentrates development around transit stations, such as train, light rail, and bus stations, and other amenities to create places for people to live, work, and play without requiring the use of a car.[3]

Figure 1 – Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (Source: Flickr).

Figure 1 – Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (Source: Flickr).

How to Incorporate Alternative Transportation and TOD

There are several general topics regarding alternative transportation to consider when incorporating alternative transportation strategies into an existing commercial project that can also help to earn your project LEED credits.

  • Proximity to existing public transportation, pedestrian, and bicycle networks and establishing a shuttle service if beyond a short walk away.
  • Proximity to existing infrastructure, services and economic activity such as stores, schools, offices, and parks.
  • Minimizing on-site parking and providing bicycle changing facilities and storage.[4]
  • Providing covered areas for people awaiting carpool/vanpool rides and drop-off/pick-up zones for vehicles.
  • Providing facilities to encourage energy-efficient vehicle use, such as two-way electric plug-in charging stations that enable EVs to both draw electricity from and supply electricity to the grid, and liquid or gas alternative fueling facilities or a battery switching station.

Many local programs assist with alternative transportation options such as the Hudson County Transportation Management Authority that offers rideshare, carpool, and vanpool services as well as other useful information for commuters.

Businesses and organizations can implement telecommuting policies that contribute to sustainable workplace practices by allowing employees to communicate via telephone and computers to accomplish tasks that traditionally occur in central office spaces, reducing traffic congestion and strain on transportation systems, fuel consumption, and associated emissions and air quality issues.[5]

TOD begins with site selection near transit hubs. Consider local regulations and interest in transit hub development to reduce delays and conflict. Identify special zoning and permit systems designed to expedite efficient redevelopment of urban centers.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation and New Jersey Transit leads a multi-agency partnership known as the Transit Village Initiative that encourages pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and community revitalization. This program aims to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality and promote growth in areas where infrastructure and public transit already exist.[6]


Cranford Crossing, Cranford, NJ.

Cranford Crossing, a mixed-use redevelopment integrated into Cranford’s pedestrian-friendly environment and located one block from Cranford’s train station.

Regional Plan Association Report – The Fourth Regional Plan

This report provides examples of several Transit Oriented Developments (TODs) throughout NJ that encourage alternative transportation.


Encouraging the use of alternative transportation options provides benefits for developers, property owners, and building occupants as well as benefits for the environment and the community. Alternative transportation reduces automobile congestion, fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions.[7] Some forms of alternative transportation also provide options for healthier lifestyle choices. Proximity to public transportation and neighborhood services can improve quality of life and reduce commuting stress, all of which provide positive marketing opportunities for a new commercial facility. Businesses can participate in programs that encourage alternative transportation strategies such as New Jersey Smart Workplaces, a partnership between NJ DOT, NJ Transit, and the state’s Transportation Management Association, that recognizes organizations and individuals who help reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.[8]


Including alternative transportation options in the initial design phase and locating projects near rapid transit helps to reduce upfront project costs. Transit-oriented design saves developers money by capitalizing on existing infrastructure and upgrades rather than relying on the developer to provide new infrastructure and parking, a significant redevelopment cost (see Brownfield and Infill sites).

Building excessive parking adds to construction costs and may contribute to environmental problems such as the heat island effect and increased stormwater runoff (see High Reflectance Hardscape Materials and Pervious Hardscape Materials). Providing excessive parking also encourages driving, which causes congestion, air pollution, and contributes to the emission of greenhouse gases. The fewer spaces dedicated to parking, the more for open space, parks, community rooms, or additional building square footage.[9]

Costs associated with providing facilities and equipment that encourage alternative transportation options such as biking and walking vary by project and may include costs to provide shower and changing facilities. Bicycle racks can accommodate about ten bikes for the same space and cost as one parking space. The cost of adding bike lanes depends on the existing condition of the roads.  The cost of adding a sidewalk is about $70 per linear foot along existing roads, though it can be significantly less if included as part of the initial road construction work.[10]


Locating buildings with access to a variety of alternative transportation options increases a building and its occupant’s resiliency by providing access to a seamless network of diverse mobility choices fueled by multiple energy sources and insulated from disruptions caused by extreme weather events, security threats, and disaster-related scenarios.[11] Telecommuting and flexible work schedules reduce congestion and strain on transportation systems, especially during vulnerable times such as storms and inclement weather. Providing bi-directional electric-plug in charging stations supports alternative fuel vehicle adoption, and vehicle-to-grid applications, which enable fully charged EV’s to supply power to the grid during emergencies or supply shortages (see Energy Storage and Backup Power Generation).[12]

TOD encourages community interaction that can lead to better cultural understanding, stronger social ties, and in turn, more resilient communities that come together to support each other in times of need. Also, TOD helps reduce the number of cars on the road, an added benefit, especially during times of mandatory evacuations when roads need to be accessible to first responders.

A study by the Federal Highway Administration, “The Post Hurricane Sandy Transportation Resilience Study in New York-New Jersey-Connecticut,” provides an assessment of the region’s transportation system’s resilience to climate, sea level rise and extreme weather leveraging lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy as well as future climate projections and identifies strategies to reduce and manage extreme weather vulnerabilities.[13]


[1] USGBC. LEED O+M: Existing Buildings | LEED v4.  Alternative Transportation. (accessed March 1, 2018).

[2] Alex Wilson and Rachel Navaro. Driving to Green Buildings: The Transportation Intensity of Buildings. (accessed March 1, 2018).

[3] “What is Transit Oriented Development?” (accessed March 28, 2018).

[4] Stop Waste. Green Rehabilitation of Multifamily Rental Properties, 2018. (accessed March 1, 2018).

[5] US General Service Administration (GSA). “Resources for Managing Teleworkers.” (accessed Sept 10, 2018).

[6] NJ DOT. (accessed April 1, 2018).

[7] Federal Transit Administration. Transit-Oriented and Joint Development. (accessed March 1, 2018).

[8] NJ DOT. (accessed March 1, 2018)

[9] Stop Waste. Green Rehabilitation of Multifamily Rental Properties, 2018.

[10] The Sidewalk Study. (accessed March 1, 2018).

[11] Victoria Transport Policy Institute. (2017) “Evaluating Transportation Resilience<

Evaluating the Transportation System’s Ability to Accommodate Diverse, Variable and Unexpected Demands with Minimal Risk.” (accessed March 8, 2018).

[12] Energy Storage Association (ESA). 2018. “Electricity Storage and Plug-In Vehicles.” (accessed August 21, 2018).

[13] Federal Highway Administration (FHA). “Post-Hurricane Sandy Transportation Resilience Study of NY, NJ, and CT.” October 2017. Final Report. (accessed March 8, 2018).