Bus rapid transit improves property values, study says - Ohio State News

A new study reveals that while few cities in the U.S. have high-quality bus rapid transit systems, those that do see benefits to nearby property values.

Cleveland's HealthLine helped increase values of nearby multi-family properties. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Cleveland's HealthLine helped increase values of nearby multi-family properties. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Researchers investigated the impact of bus rapid transit (or BRT) systems on property values near 11 BRT systems in 10 U.S. cities, noting previous research found that traditional bus services generally have a minor negative impact on nearby land values and apartment rent prices.


While BRT didn’t have a negative impact in most of the cities studied, it did improve multi-family property values in some cities such as Cleveland, which may be a model that some other cities can follow, said Blake Acton, who led the study as a graduate student at The Ohio State University.

“What we saw in Cleveland is something that's new and desirable, and people really want to live near the BRT system there,” Acton said. “That demonstrates that it's possible to build premium BRT infrastructure and stimulate transit-oriented development in the United States.”


The study was published in the Journal of Transport Geography.


“Our results show that locations near BRT systems in congested, growing cities with high transit ridership can see property value increases,” said study co-author Harvey Miller, professor of geography and director of the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis at Ohio State. "But high quality BRT can have positive impacts in more cities.”


BRT is distinguished from traditional bus service by seeking to deliver faster and more efficient service through amenities such as dedicated lanes for buses, greater service frequency, traffic signal priority, off-board fare collection, elevated platforms and enhanced stations.


However, most BRT systems in the United States lack key features – most importantly, dedicated bus lanes – and often are often referred to as “BRT-lite.” In contrast, high-quality full BRT systems include dedicated lanes.


BRT gained popularity around the world at the beginning of the century, but only 438 of these systems exist in the U.S today – about 8.2% of the entire world’s system length.


“BRT exists all over the world, and not just dense mega cities,” Acton said. “BRT can link together walkable areas in cities that historically have been very isolated.”


By comparing the before-and-after effect of BRT systems in 10 cities across the U.S on property price data from 1990-2016, the study was able to determine that unlike traditional bus services, amenity-filled BRT routes don't generally harm property values. In addition to Cleveland, the study examined BRT systems in Seattle, Eugene (Oregon), Oakland, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston and Miami. The study also controlled for neighborhood attributes that might change over time such as race, income, education, in addition to proximity to jobs and green space.


Results showed that three of the 11 BRT systems experienced property value increases near stations, one system experienced a decrease and the remaining seven showed no significant changes.


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