Skip to main content

People Oriented Development: Rethinking the Links Between the Sustainable Development Goals and Transit Oriented Development, Through a Case Study of Quito, Ecuador

  • Conference paper
  • First Online:
Resilient Planning and Design for Sustainable Cities (UPADSD 2022)


One of the pillars of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is the idea that the eradication of poverty and inequality is possible through economic growth. The baseline of economic growth relates strongly to the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) framework, which contains a consolidated financial model for urban development. In this paper, we examine the synergies and conflicts between SDGs and TOD. By doing so, we highlight how, although the SDGs ultimately strive to eradicate poverty, TOD fails miserably on this front. The findings are the result of the analysis of TOD in Quito, Ecuador, which has had a notable influence on TOD in its urban legislation, since hosting the Habitat III conference in 2016. The case study reflected the synergies and conflicts between the SDGs and TOD. In addition, we argue that certain aspects of the Quito study challenge the very concept of development through economic growth (promoted by the SDGs), or having fast urban economic centres (pushed by TOD). We argue that instead of trying to force local needs to be in accordance with the SDGs or TOD, a new approach should be adopted that is centred around people’s needs. We call for a shift in discourse: from a strong focus on infrastructural development, fast access and economic growth, to discussing forms of urban living. This paper defines such a shift in discourse, research and urban planning as People Oriented Development.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD 189.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Hardcover Book
USD 249.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions


  1. 1.

    In this paper, we draw on the original definition provided by the United Nations, plus the targets and indicators for the Goals (UNDESA, n.d.), as well as the latest report on Progress Towards the Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations Economic and Social Council, 2019).

  2. 2.

    Additionally, the SDG’s definition of vulnerable is restricted. TOD can cater to the disabled, women and children as long as they can afford to live in the development catchment area. There exist other options outside of TOD to serve the disabled, women and children, such as Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) (Cavoli et al., 2017). The term ‘vulnerable’ usually extends to those who are economically and socially vulnerable (which in turn relates to the urban population living in slums that was highlighted in the facts and figures).

  3. 3.

    This is open to some debate. For example, the OECD would classify Quito as a large metropolitan area (OECD Data, 2023). However, Quito is clearly far from being a Megacity of the likes of México City, Bogotá, and Sao Paolo, which have nearly 22 million, 46 million and almost 11 million respectively.

  4. 4.

    Marginalised Communities is a term that depicts the specificity of informality in the Ecuadorian context. Here with informality, we refer to the United Nations definition: (1) inhabitants have no security of tenure; (2) the neighbourhoods usually lack basic services and city infrastructure; (3) housing built in absence of urban planning and building regulations; and (4) often situated in hazardous areas (UN-Habitat, 2015). In Quito, MCUDs are usually an area of urban land acquired in informal settlements, where inhabitants with limited financial resources have started to build family homes with decentralised basic services and in the absence of official building regulations. Due to increasing pressure in raised land prices from the urban middle classes, these MCUDs are often located in areas vulnerable to natural hazards (soil liquefaction in earthquakes and slopes vulnerable to landslides), mostly in the periphery.

  5. 5.

    This included a move towards the decentralisation of city services (water and sanitation, energy supply, waste management) achieved via rain and grey water recycling, renewable energy production, and localised waste processing, to name but a few.


  • Adelman, S. (2018). The sustainable development goals, anthropocentrism and neoliberalism. Edward Elgar Publishing.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Blanco, J., Lucas, K., Schafran, A., Verlinghieri, E., & Apaolaza, R. (2018). Contested mobilities in the Latin American context. Journal of Transport Geography, 67, 73–75.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cavoli, C., Phillips, B., Cohen, T., & Jones, P. (2017). Social and behavioural questions associated with automated vehicles: A literature review. UCL Transport Institute

    Google Scholar 

  • Chatman, D., Xu, R., Park, J., & Spevack, A. (2019). Does transit-oriented gentrification increase driving? Journal of Planning Education and Research, 39(4), 482–495.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cook, N., & Butz, D. (Eds.). (2018). Mobilities, mobility justice and social justice. Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Curtis, C., Renne, J., & Bertolini, L. (Eds.). (2009). Transit oriented development: Making it happen. Ashgate.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dávila, J. D., & Oviedo, D. (2018). Masstransit, social inequalities and BRT-driven (IM) mobilities in Barranquilla, Colombia. In Urban space: Experiences and reflections from the global south (pp. 173–200).

    Google Scholar 

  • Enright, T. (2013). Mass transportation in the Neoliberal city: The mobilizing myths of the Grand Paris Express. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space., 45(4), 797–813.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • EPMTP (Empresa Pública Metropolitana de Transporte de Pasajeros). (2019). Trole Quito.

  • Farmer, S. (2011). Uneven public transportation development in Neoliberalizing Chicago, USA. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 43(5), 1154–1172.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gordon, P., & Richardson, H. (2000). Critiquing sprawl’s critics. Policy Analysis, 365. Cato Institute.

  • Guthrie, A. (2018). Can transit-oriented development enhance social equity: Current state and active promotion of equitable transit-oriented development (Doctoral dissertation).

  • Habitat III Secretariat. (2017). New urban agenda. United Nations.

    Google Scholar 

  • Harrison, P., Rubin, M., Appelbaum., A., & Dittgen, R. (2019). Corridors of freedom: Analyzing Johannesburg’s ambitious inclusionary transit-oriented development. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 39(4), 456–468.

    Google Scholar 

  • He, S., Tao, S., Hou, Y., & Jiang, W. (2018). Mass transit railway, transit-oriented development and spatial justice: The competition for prime residential locations in Hong Kong since the 1980s. Town Planning Review, 89(5), 467–493.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hillerbrand, R. (2018). Why affordable clean energy is not enough. A capability perspective on the sustainable development goals. Sustainability, 10(7), 2485.

  • IMP (Instituto Metropolitano de Patrimonio). (2018). Plan de Desarrollo Integral del Centro Histórico de Quito (CHQ) al 2030. Encuentro Iberamericano sobre Prácticas Urbanas Innovadoras: Hacia la Ciudad 2030, June 2018, Lima, Perú.

    Google Scholar 

  • INEC (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos). (2010). Fasciculo Provincial Pichincha. INEC.

  • Quito Informa. (2017). 2’400.000 de viajes persona en el Sistema de Transporte al día. Quito Informa.

  • Jácome Polit, D., Cubillo, P., Paredes, D., & Ruiz Villalba, P. (2017). R.I.S.Q: Risk assessment tool for Quito. In IEREK improving sustainability concept in developing countries, Cairo. Archive: IEREK

    Google Scholar 

  • Joshi, R., Joseph, Y., Patel., K., & Darji, V. (2017). Transit-oriented development: Lessons from international experiences.

  • Knowles, R., Ferbrache, F., & Nikitas, A. (2020). Transport’s historical, contemporary and future role in shaping urban development: Re-evaluating transit oriented development. Cities, 99, 102607.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kothari, A., Demaria, F., & Acosta, A. (2014). Buen Vivir, degrowth and ecological Swaraj: Alternatives to sustainable development and the green economy. Development, 57, 362–375 (2014).

  • Linovski, O., Baker, D., & Manaugh, K. (2018). Equity in practice? Evaluations of equity in planning for bus rapid transit. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 113, 75–87.

    Google Scholar 

  • Luckey, K. (2018). Affordable for whom? Introducing an improved measure for assessing impacts of transportation decisions on housing affordability for households with limited means. Research in Transportation Business & Management.

  • Marti, C., Bertolini, L., & Weidmann, U. (2018). Transit orientation: More than just coverage—A new method for the assessment of transit and development co-location. Transportation Research Record, p. 0361198118786674

    Google Scholar 

  • Medda, F. (2012). Land value capture finance for transport accessibility: A review. Journal of Transport Geography, 25, 154–161.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • OECD. (2023). Urban population by city size (indicator). Retrieved January 15, 2023 from

  • Okoli, C., & Pawlowski, S. (2004). The Delphi method as a research tool: An example, design considerations and applications. Information & Management, 42. 15–29. 10.1016.

  • Papa, E., & Bertolini, L. (2015). Accessibility and transit-oriented development in European metropolitan areas. Journal of Transport Geography, 47, 70–83.

  • Pereira, R. (2019). Future accessibility impacts of transport policy scenarios: Equity and sensitivity to travel time thresholds for bus rapid transit expansion in Rio de Janeiro. Journal of Transport Geography, 74, 321–332.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Prerna, J., & Pragati, J. (2020). Are the sustainable development goals really sustainable? A policy perspective. Sustainable Development, 28(6), 1642–1651.

    Google Scholar 

  • Renne, J., & Appleyard, B. (2019). Twenty-five years in the making: TOD as a New Name for an enduring concept. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 39(4), 402–408.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rizzo, M. (2014). The political economy of an urban megaproject: The bus rapid transit project in Tanzania. African Affairs, 114(455), 249–270.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rizzo, M. (2017). Taken for a ride: Grounding neoliberalism, precarious labour, and public transport in an African metropolis. Critical frontiers of theory, research, and policy in international development studies. Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sagaris, L., Berríos, E., & Tiznado-Aitken, I. (2020). Using PAR to frame sustainable transport and social justice on policy agendas. A pilot experience in two contrasting Chilean cities. Journal of Transport Geography, 83, 102654.

    Google Scholar 

  • Salat, S., & Ollivier, G. (2017). Transforming the urban space through transit-oriented development: The 3V approach.

  • Schwanen, T. (2020). Towards decolonial human subjects in research on transport. Journal of Transport Geography, 88, 102849.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schwanen, T., Lucas, K., Akyelken, N., Solsona, D., Carrasco, J., & Neutens, T. (2015). Rethinking the links between social exclusion and transport disadvantage through the lens of social capital. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 74, 123–135.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schwanen, T. (2018). Towards decolonised knowledge about transport. Nature.

  • Spaiser, V., Ranganathan, S., Bali Swain, R., & Sumpter, D. (2017). The sustainable development oxymoron: Quantifying and modelling the incompatibility of sustainable development goals. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, 24(6), 457–470.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • STHV (Secretaría de Territorio, Hábitat y Vivienda). (2017). Resolución No. STHV-14-2017. Quito Alcaldia. Quito. Ecuador.

  • Suzuki, H., Cervero, R., & Iuchi, K. (2013). Transforming cities with transit: Transit and land-use integration for sustainable urban development. The World Bank.

    Google Scholar 

  • Suzuki, H., Murakami, J., Hong Y., & Tamayose, B. (2015). Financing transit-oriented development with land values: Adapting land value capture in developing countries. The World Bank.

    Google Scholar 

  • El Telégrafo. (2014). 54 Cooperativas de buses de Quito reciben certificaciones del sistema Caja Común. El Telégrafo.

  • Thomas, R., & Bertolini, L. (2015). Policy transfer among planners in transit-oriented development. Town Planning Review, 86(5), 537–561.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Thomas, R., & Bertolini, L. (2017). Defining critical success factors in TOD implementation using rough set analysis. The Journal of Transport and Land Use, 10(1), 139–154.

    Google Scholar 

  • Thomas, R., & Bertolini, L. (2020). Transit-oriented development [e-book]. Palgrave Macmillan.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • UNDESA (United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs). (n.d.). Sustainable transport.

  • UNESC (United Nations Economic and Social Council). (2019). Special edition: Progress towards the sustainable development goals (Report No. E/2019/68). United Nations.

    Google Scholar 

  • UN-Habitat. (2015). Habitat III issue papers 22—Informal settlements. In United Nations conference on housing and sustainable urban development 2015 (pp. 0–8).

  • United Nations. (n.d.a). Sustainable development goals.

  • van Geet, M., Lenferink, S., Arts, J., & Leendertse, W. (2019). Understanding the ongoing struggle for land use and transport integration: Institutional incongruence in the Dutch national planning process. Transport Policy, 73, 84–100.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vecchio, G. (2020). Microstories of everyday mobilities and opportunities in Bogotá: A tool for bringing capabilities into urban mobility planning. Journal of Transport Geography, 83, 102652.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Venter, C., Jennings, G., Hidalgo, D., & Valderrama, A. (2017). The equity impacts of bus rapid transit: A review of the evidence and implications for sustainable transport. International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, 12, 140–152.

  • Verlinghieri, E., & Schwanen, T. (2020). Transport and mobility justice: Evolving discussions. Journal of Transport Geography, 87, 102798.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wood, A., Keblowski, W., & Tuvikene, T. (2020). Decolonial approaches to urban transport geographies: Introduction to the special issue. Journal of Transport Geography, 88.

  • Zeng, Y., Maxwell, S., Runting, R., Venter, O., Watson, J., & Carrasco, R. (2020). Environmental destruction not avoided with the sustainable development goals. Nature Sustainability, 1–4.

    Google Scholar 

Download references


This paper would not have been possible, were it not for the guidance of Professor Tim Schwanen and a thorough review of the text by Dr. Lucy Baker, respectively, Director and Research Associate of the Transport Studies Unit of the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford. Additionally, extensive work in the development of figures, analysis of the Delphi interviews, the semi-structured interview with the IMP leader and tasks in drafting and reviewing the paper was carried out by Arch. Andrea Cristina Cordova, whose involvement was essential. Furthermore, Arch. Jaire Cagigal's work was crucial in preparing the final document and images.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michael Maks Davis .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2024 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this paper

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this paper

Davis, M.M., Verlinghieri, E. (2024). People Oriented Development: Rethinking the Links Between the Sustainable Development Goals and Transit Oriented Development, Through a Case Study of Quito, Ecuador. In: Alberti, F., Gallo, P., Matamanda, A.R., Strauss, E.J. (eds) Resilient Planning and Design for Sustainable Cities. UPADSD 2022. Advances in Science, Technology & Innovation. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics