BRTOD

LA Metro Orange Line BRT

LA Metro Orange Line BRT

Bus rapid transit (BRT) is a public transit mode that involves a combination of operational improvements, transit priority measures, and passenger amenities for urban bus service. BRT has proliferated rapidly across cities in the United States and around the world in recent decades. Its capacity to catalyze transformative transit-oriented development (TOD), however, has not been investigated extensively, especially in comparison to rail-based TOD. This workshop investigated the potential for synergies in bus rapid transit oriented development (BRTOD) through the integrated design of the routes, infrastructure, public spaces, real estate projects, and related policy packages necessary to induce desirable physical, social, and environmental outcomes.

Transit service that reduces travel times generally increases the value of surrounding land; transit-oriented development seeks to leverage such value for revitalizing communities and increasing transit ridership through compact, mixed-use development…and high-quality walking environments.

Ridership Attraction

The success of TOD depends in part on how well the transit service is able to attract riders. Cases in which high-quality subway and light rail systems achieved high levels of ridership and extensive TOD are well-documented. Emerging evidence suggests that, if well-designed, BRT with comparable service to such rail systems can also attract comparable ridership. For example, Ben-Akiva and Morikawa conclude that “rail and bus services which provide similar service attributes have the same ridership attraction.” Research has also identified which features of BRT are most important for ridership attraction. In a comparison of 46 BRT systems, Hensher and Li identify a number of features as significantly impacting ridership, including “fare, headway, the length of the BRT network, the number of corridors, average distance between stations; and whether there is: an integrated network of routes and corridors, modal integration at BRT stations, pre-board fare collection and fare verification, quality control oversight from an independent agency, and at-level boarding and alighting.” Conducting a detailed analysis of BRT ridership in Jinan, China, Jiang, Zegras and Mehndiratta identify corridor and urban design features that expand the passenger catchment areas BRT stations.

While BRT has the potential to achieve the same ridership attraction that rail does, special care in designing the stations and their surrounding contexts is often warranted. This is especially true because BRT is often, though not always, implemented in corridors with wide rights of way and ample space for automobiles. Integrated design can address the challenges associated with such urban contexts and spur real estate development.

Real Estate Development

Well-designed BRT can spur increased development and property values around stations. Studies of Bogotá’s pioneering TransMilenio system, have found BRT station access premiums are capitalized in residential property values. Rodriguez and Mojica find that “access to BRT implies 13-15% premium for residential properties.” Rodriguez and Targa, however, note that these station access premiums in Bogotá can be offset slightly by proximity to the corridor and, presumably, the associated noise and pollution. In Seoul, Cervero and Kang find a premium for residential property values of 5-10% within 300 meters of BRT stop and premium for non-residential property values of 3-26% within 150 meters of BRT stop.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that developers’ interest in bus systems in the United States is strong. In interviews with developers in Minnesota, Fan and Guthrie find that the flexibility of bus systems is sometimes favored over LRT in part because “employers focus more on current transit options in site selection than on proposed future options.” In Oregon, Nelson et al. find “the Eugene-Springfield market responded… quickly to the EmX BRT system” and go on to generalize that “even in the cities with a relatively low level of infrastructure, BRT is viewed as permanent when there is a clear long-term commitment by the transit agency.” A study of Boston’s Washnigton Street corridor by Perk, Bovino, et al. estimated the residential property value premium attributable to the new corridor was up to 7.6%. Evidence from these diverse contexts suggests that BRT can in fact drive the capitalization of accessibility improvements required for strong transit-oriented development.

BRTOD

The construction of a BRT corridor can be an opportunity for transit-oriented development through the capitalization of accessibility benefits. To take advantage of this opportunity, additional mutually reinforcing benefits can be encouraged through integrated design. For example, denser mixed-use development around a station in response to improved accessibility will in turn further improve accessibility for other areas by adding opportunities around the station. Successful BRTOD seeks to maximize such secondary benefits through coordinated planning that extends beyond the bus corridor infrastructure. BRTOD also requires careful attention to station access and surrounding urban design. Design at this broad scale calls for careful consideration of real estate, governance, and policy forces. The workshop was structured to encourage such consideration.