Transit Oriented Development Strategy

Quito, Ecuador

A strategy focussing on social inclusion, urban regeneration and the environment is being implemented in Quito.

The city government of Quito has commenced a large infrastructure project based on a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) strategy and Land Value Capture (LVC) Plans. The project will maximize residential, business and recreational space within walking distance of public transportation and have a positive impact on the welfare of a large portion of the population. Together this will allow investment in economic growth, provide inclusive employment and safe housing, environmental benefits and simultaneously strengthening municipal resources.

This project has been chosen by the city of Johannesburg to be peer-reviewed in the frame of the Sustainable Cities Collaboratory:


City information

Size and population development
2011: 1,622,000; 1990: 1,088,000; 2025: 2,142,000; 2010-2015: +1,70% / year

Population composition
Illiteracy rate: 3.6%, unemployment rate: 9%, mostly Roman Catholics

Main functions
highest Capital City in the world (altitude), capital of Pichincha province, world heritage site

Main industries / business
service industries, and tourism

Political structure
Mayor and 15-member City Council

Administrative structure
32 urban parishes also known as cabildos, 8 zonas, 19 parroquias urbanas (contradictory information)

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Background and objectives

Local governments are increasingly working towards low carbon urbanism and mass transit mobility systems. To this end TOD strategies and LVC instruments have become an attractive and feasible option that require robust and integrated urban planning supported by strong institutions with sufficient technical capacity.

The Municipality of Quito is undertaking the single most important infrastructure investment of its history, the First Line of the Quito Metro (PLMQ for its Spanish acronym). The PLMQ brings about significant changes to the existing transport system and will greatly impact the citizens of the city. The strategy looks to foster urban developments that suit each station enhancing its social, economic and environmental potential, while providing secure places to live and improve the urban quality of many public places in Quito.

The project has the following objectives:

Environmental and Social Sustainability

  1. Shift away from private automobiles to public transit, aimed at reducing energy consumption, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and improving local air quality,
  2. Through fostering civic participation, contribute to people’s ownership to meet social demands for better services and quality public space.

 Economic and Social Contribution

  1. Increase productivity by reducing daily commuting time.
  2. Increase density and diversity of land uses to create agglomeration economies and help revitalize urban centers and neighborhood.
  3. Make public services and facilities available for as many citizens as possible.


  1. Include strategies and interventions that increase road safety, particularly for pedestrian and bicyclist intermodal connections, access and crossings to transit stations.
  2. Design urban interventions to improve safety/reduce crime by increasing activity in the public realm, improving lighting, introducing monitoring systems and increasing “eyes on the street.”

 Economic Efficiency

  1. Configure an incentive for the local real estate and construction market to create quality jobs in the city.
  2. Maximize the benefits associated to having people to live and work near transit stations and use transit stations with greater convenience, especially for the less advantaged classes in society, thereby increasing Metro ridership and reducing journey times, travel distances and congestion, hence increasing the efficiency of the transport system.

Resilience against Natural Disasters

  1. Support planning for high densities in low risk areas and help shift from growth into the periphery to more a compact growth of Quito.
  2. By identifying natural and/or manmade threats around the metro stations that can interrupt the service of the first metro line of Quito, or any other mobility option associated to the station areas, or that can endanger user’s wellbeing, and proposing strategies to decrease existing risk.
  3. Plan a city wide mobility system based on redundancy, integration and efficiency of all its components.

 Adaptation to climate change and avoiding the creation of new risks

  1. Contribute with affordable housing in safe places instead of far located and illegal options provided by the informal market,
  2. Avoid displacement of low-income families.

The rollout of the project includes the following key dates:

2010 – Project design by Metro Madrid
2013 – Construction of stations El Labrador and La Magdalena
2016 – Start of the construction
2018 – Civil works completion (tunnel and underground stations)
2019 – Project completion

The construction of the first metro line has commenced and it is expected that the system will be operational by the end of 2019, simultaneously the city government has put in place a regulation that encourages real estate development around the different systems of existing mass transport.

Specific activities

  • Integrate current bus transit system operated by private companies
  • Appropriation by the citizens and future users
  • Urban development and reactivation of areas served by the metro line
  • Transform Quito’s transportation system to a more sustainable system
  • Enrich the metro line with pedestrian and bicycle transportation networks
  • Establish a fare and a collection system that enables users to travel through different components of the public transportation system
  • Design the public space around stations.

A city-wide migration to renewable energy sources must become a priority in order to develop a coherent public transportation system.

Financing and resources

The investment slightly surpasses 2 billion USD.


Results and impacts

The general results expected include:

  • Increase in buildability, adequate densification and improvement of urban compactness
  • Improvement of urban quality and safety in public spaces
  • Economic income to be invested in urban improvement projects in the city
  • Decrease in risk in the face of natural events of transport infrastructure
  • Decrease in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and improvement of air quality
  • Diversification of the types of uses in buildings to increase the supply of activities and decrease the need for private car mobilization
  • Increase in the real estate market supply of new, affordable and safe housing at walking distances from public transport
Barriers and challenges

TOD is a market driven strategy. The main challenge is to propose interventions that are both, attractive to the supply market and brings both environmental and economic benefits for the city and its citizens. Another challenge is to make sure that the risk factor and the different climate challenges, current and future, are taken into account and included in the interventions.

Critical issues include:

  • Economic debt needed for financing the project.
  • 16 months away from inauguration there haven’t been any negotiations with the bus operators.
  • First metro line only covers 22 out of 45 kilometers of Quito’s upper plateau.
  • There is no public transportation solution to connect Quito’s upper plateau with the valleys.