CLEVELAND — A new study reveals that high-quality bus systems have a significant benefit to nearby property values.
Researchers at The Ohio State University studied the impact of bus rapid transit (BRT) systems on property values near 11 BRT systems in 10 US cities. The systems didn’t have a negative impact in most of the cities studied and improved multi-family property values in some cities.
“It's desirable for people who want to live in a city center without having to own a car,” said Harvey Miller, a professor of geography and director of the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis at Ohio State University.
The study was published in the Journal of Transport Geography.
BRT is different from traditional bus service by delivering faster and more efficient service with amenities like dedicated lanes for buses, higher frequency, traffic signal priority, elevated platforms, and enhanced stations.
“Bus rapid transit is an attempt to simulate really a light rail experience using buses,” Miller said. “There are fewer stops because you want more express service.”
Cleveland’s own BRT system, the Healthline, was one of 11 systems analyzed in the study. It found that single-family homes along the Cleveland Healthline system saw no change in their values and multi-family residences saw a 41.5 percent increase in their property values.
“We’ve had a tremendous amount of economic development throughout the corridor. Commercial, residential, apartments and a lot of conversions of buildings. Healthcare and education facilities along the corridor,” said Mike Shipper, deputy general manager of engineering and project management at Greater Cleveland RTA.
The research credited the Healthline service in increasing property values may be credited to the fact that it operates along a major thoroughfare, it has dedicated bus lanes, and the corridor experienced $7 billion of new investments, including major streetscape renovations. That helped lead to a 138 percent increase in ridership compared to the bus service it replaced.
“We spent a lot of time working with our major institutions, with our community development corporations along the corridor and many of them had updated their master plans to really take advantage of what we were doing on the Healthline,” said Shipper.
BRT gained popularity around the world at the beginning of the century, but only 438 miles of these systems exist in the U.S today – about 8.2 percent of the entire world’s system length.
Multi-family properties may be the main beneficiary of rising property values linked to BRTs because these bus systems make commuting without cars easier and thus encourage more dense housing.
“It really shows that people who buy multifamily properties do see some value in being close to the BRT system,” said Blake Acton of the Boston Region Planning Organization. “I would say to look at Cleveland as sort of as a model and to prioritize reliability and dedicated lanes, and also to favor multi-family developments in your zoning policies and to sort of allow those developments to be constructed along the corridor.”
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