The United States currently has more than 27 major metropolitan regions with commuter rail systems, and 15 more areas are planning such systems by 2025. In Texas alone, Dallas is doubling its transit rail mileage in 2009-2010, Austin just opened the first phase of its rail line and Houston has plans for a massive expansion of its fledgling commuter rail.
The resulting train stations anchor prime locations for transit-oriented development (TOD), typically defined as a mixed-use project with a residential component within one quarter mile of a transit stop, designed to increase walkability and transit use. Although these Texas metropolitan areas are rapidly expanding their transit systems, the newly constructed TOD housing at the transit stations is not affordable to the average household.
A 2004 study commissioned by the Federal Transit Administration estimates that the demand for housing near transit will increase to 15 million households by 2040, more than double the 6 million households that currently reside within a half-mile of transit. However, among 3,300 transit stations throughout the country, there are only slightly more than 100 transit-oriented housing projects.