When you think of mobility, you think of people moving from place to place… but do you ever think of home values when you think of public transportation?
Public Transit Boosts Real Estate
Real estate and property values may not be top of mind when we consider the role of public transportation, but when homes are located near rail or bus lines, the property value performs better compared to homes that are not located near high-frequency public transportation. Following the housing crisis in 2009, homes located within a half-mile of high-frequency public transportation service continued to increase in value, performing 42 percent better than other homes.
Thousands of neighborhoods near rail lines have seen their housing values outperform the national average. Communities built around public transportation services, known as “transit-oriented development” (TOD), saw home values grow by 37 percent compared to the national average of 20 percent. Since 1996, home values in TOD areas have grown nearly twice as fast as home values nationally.
Housing costs may be higher close to transit, but residents often enjoy lower transportation costs. People living in TODs spend 13 percent of their income on transportation compared to the national average of 18 percent.
Both Rail and Buses Attract Investment
Rail service attracts a range of investments beyond residential property. In Portland, Oregon, a new light rail line opened in 2015. When the line was under construction, developers recognized that the new service would support commerce and residential living, which attracted numerous investments near the line. When service opened on the new line, more than 480,000 square feet of new educational and research space opened as well, with plans for large mixed-use developments to follow.
Bus rapid transit (BRT) can also drive economic development. BRT systems provide the benefits of rail with the flexibility of traditional bus systems. Typically, BRT buses operate in dedicated lanes and may have right-of-way at intersections, enabling faster travel. A recent study found that BRT corridors — areas within a half-mile of BRT service — saw increased levels of office space development, residential investment, and high-wage job creation.
Cleveland’s HealthLine BRT system is a 6.8-mile line that cost about $50 million to build and has attracted an estimated $5.8 billion in development. This translates into a $114 return on every $1 of public transit investment.
Voices for Public Transit advocates should remind elected officials that investments in public transit pay economic dividends as well as providing mobility and improving the quality of life for millions of Americans.