Ohio State Researchers Find Rapid Transit Bus Systems Improve Property Values

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A map of the bus rapid transit systems featured in the study, ranked by the extent to which they had a dedicated bus lane. Credit: Courtesy of Blake Acton and Harvey Miller

Ohio State researchers found that bus rapid transit systems helped improve property values ​​in several US cities, including Cleveland.

The study, published in the Journal of Transport Geography, analyzed 11 bus rapid transit systems in 10 cities across the United States. system.

According to Institute for Transport and Development Policy.

Blake Acton, an Ohio State alumnus and lead author of the study when he was a graduate student, said that of the 10 cities surveyed, property values ​​rose the most in Cleveland.

“Cleveland is a great model that demonstrates that it’s possible to build a good BRT in the United States that impacts nearby transit-oriented development,” Acton said. “If Cleveland can do it, I would say Columbus could do it, Cincinnati could do it, and other comparable cities.”

Acton said the overall property value along Cleveland HealthLine Bus Rapid Transit System has increased by 14.8% since the road was added in 2008, and multi-family properties have increased by 41.5% in value compared to similar properties in the city. She said there was a greater impact on the value of multi-family residences, where people are more likely to walk or use public transport, than single-family homes, where people are more likely to use cars to get around.

According to program website. LinkUS would add a bus rapid transit route connecting downtown Columbus to the Northwest Side, as well as traffic congestion management, business support, and housing access.

Harvey Miller, Ohio State geography professor and co-author of the study, said the system is an inexpensive alternative to light rail transit for cities that lack the resources to build rail infrastructure.

“The idea is that we’re trying to replicate the experience and performance of a light rail system,” Miller said. “But because we’re using bus technology rather than rail technology, we can get it for half the cost of light rail.”

Miller said many US cities, including Columbus, have what’s called “BRT-lite” — high-frequency bus service with rapid transit functionality but no dedicated lanes.

Acton said the main reason cities choose BRT-lite systems over a full bus rapid transit system is price.

“BRT-lite, in some cases, is five to ten times cheaper than a full BRT,” Acton said. “And that’s because full BRT almost always requires, I would say 99% of the time, infrastructure investment.”

Despite the cost, Miller said the dedicated lanes have been instrumental in increasing property value. He said he hopes the study will change the way urban developers view public transportation and the value of investing in a comprehensive bus rapid transit system infrastructure.

“A lot of Americans don’t consider public transit to be for them; it’s almost treated as a social service for the poor and not for everyone,” Miller said. “But it can have positive impacts on the kind of development you want to see, which is multi-family development.”

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