Researchers from Ohio State University study how bus rapid transit impacts property values

Published in the Journal of Transport Geography, researchers at Ohio State University investigated the impact of bus rapid transit (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.

By comparing the before-and-after effect of BRT systems in 10 cities using property value 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. The study examined BRT systems in Seattle, Eugene (Oregon), Oakland (California), Los Angeles, Kansas City, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Boston, and Miami, and controlled for neighborhood attributes that might change over time such as race, income, education, 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.

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. "What we saw in Cleveland is something that's new and desirable, and people really want to live near the BRT system there," said Blake Acton, who led the study as a graduate student. "That demonstrates that it's possible to build premium BRT infrastructure and stimulate transit-oriented development in the United States."

The researchers said the success of the Cleveland Healthline service in increasing property values may be credited to the fact that it operates along a major thoroughfare, has dedicated bus lanes, and the corridor experienced $7 billion of new investments including major streetscape renovations.

The findings also indicated that car-oriented BRT station design can be more of a nuisance rather than a benefit to the neighborhood, citing that the only time BRT harmed property values was where stations were surrounded by parking, making the BRT stations not walkable or well-integrated into the city.