Design connects people to their built environment. Designing vibrant, well-connected places that are people-oriented is integral to successful TOD, and can carry with it a range of social and economic benefits for community residents.

A fundamental undertaking of regional TOD design is the integration of transportation and land use planning, which ensures the creation of communities that are integrated with and linked to the broader city. Many successful TOD policies have sought to combine these two sectors in order to effectively allocate scarce resources of land, plan transportation systems that reach the most people, and direct future growth to transit hubs and corridors. Shaping the built environment to prevent harmful lock-in that perpetuates expensive and damaging sprawl-like development is an underlying goal of TOD design.

People-oriented design that provides the right policies and complete infrastructure to encourage walking and cycling has social and health benefits for the community via physical activity and social interaction. Furthermore, orienting streets towards the human scale and making them safe for multiple types of users (including cars, pedestrians, and the disabled) creates a vibrancy that can have social and economic benefits for residents.

Creating vibrant places and setting aside green space for the public throughout a region is another integral component of successful TOD design. When creating dense, compact development, it can be easy to overlook allocation of public and green space; however, many studies have shown the social and health benefits that these spaces have for urban residents.

When effectively employed, good design in TOD projects can respond to the needs of a community, create safe and inviting public spaces, and present important information in aesthetically appealing ways. Successful design can  serve as the thread that connects individual transit stations along corridors and throughout entire mobility systems. Understanding the need to strategize and implement development within the context of a cohesive and comprehensive design plan is critical to the effective and wide-scale implementation of good TOD.