T4America Blog

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An exciting time for bus rapid transit

A new study found that BRT in Eugene, OR had a positive impact on the livability of the surrounding communities. (Photo credit: Lane Transit District)

Investments in high-capacity public transit such as light rail and subways continue to demonstrate their ability to substantially increase property values along transit alignments. But can we say the same about buses?

Interest in bus rapid transit (BRT) is booming across the country as an effective and more affordable transit investment. Yet little research has been completed on their economic impacts in the U.S., partially because only a limited number of BRT projects have been completed here. Elected officials, real estate developers, and other key decision-makers are eager for more information on whether investments in BRT will pay off in their own communities.

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), in partnership with Transportation for America, released an early study last year that found that BRT can indeed generate economic development, attract jobs, retails, and affordable housing.

Building on that research, NITC recently published a new study that takes a closer look at the impact of one specific BRT system. Researchers examined the Emerald Express (EmX) — a BRT system that connects downtown Eugene to Springfield, Oregon — and found that the EmX line improved the livability of the surrounding communities:

“The EmX line had a statistically significant positive impact on property values, which stands to benefit the community as a whole: the related taxes can be used to pay for transportation and other infrastructure, further enhancing the economic development of the community.”

This is an exciting time for BRT in the U.S. — BRT projects are currently underway in dozens of cities, several of which are taking part in the FTA TOD Technical Assistance Initiative. Visit the TODresources.org hub to access a trove of research on how to maximize the development potential of BRT corridors.

Recent TOD news

Here are a few things that have been happening this week with TOD projects across the country.

(Cross-posted from TODresources.org)


  1. David Orr

    7 years ago

    This study apparently does not compare BRT to other transit modes, e.g. light rail and streetcars, and it looks at one community with a limited number of major employment centers. Eugene has had a reputation for years–prior to the BRT system–of being a very livable and a relatively affordable city. Thus it is, in my view, a mistake to tout the benefits of BRT as a cost-effective transit mode while not evaluating the costs and benefits relative to rail transit options. BRT has not demonstrated the economic returns to communities in the US because the data is largely lacking to compare it to rail transit. There are strong indicators that rail has stronger long-term economic impact than BRT but the jury is still out. Therefore I hope that T4A will be much less a cheerleader in the future for BRT and more an objective analyst. Let’s not jump to conclusions on the basis of one anecdotal study that paints an incomplete and rosy picture of a complicated question.

  2. Monte McKenzie

    7 years ago

    mass transit is becoming a serious necessity also in rural America as the population ages fewer of us can drive, but few can move to cities and fewer would want to! America needs a national movement to aggressively reduce private transportation in favor of nation wide mass transit which would save lives first and dollars by the billions second which will not make the auto industry happy but will add years to the lives of a million or so who are maimed if not killed by auto accidents annually not to mention the hundreds of billions spent on all manner of insuranceses and car maintence and fossil fuel use which is killing the environment…there is simply nothing to like about continueing the 20th century auto masness problems .