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New Study: BRT Spurs Real Estate and Job Benefits

Silver Line travels down Grandville Avenue

A new peer-reviewed study examining existing bus rapid transit (BRT) lines and found strong evidence that BRT systems in the U.S. generate economic development, attract jobs, retail and affordable housing–all with a more affordable price tag than rail.

Published by Arthur C. Nelson of the University of Arizona and released by Transportation for America, the new study finds that BRT lines can indeed shape real estate and attract jobs. BRT is on the rise across the country as a reliable and cost-effective transportation option. We launched the Silver Line, Grand Rapids’ first bus BRT  line, in 2014, and the Laker Line BRT is currently in the planning phase with a launch date expected in 2018.

Here are a few study findings:

BRT encourages new office growth. Areas within a half-mile of BRT corridors increased their share of new office space by one-third from 2000-2007, and new multifamily apartment construction doubled in those half-mile areas since 2008. For most areas studied, there was a rent premium for office space within a BRT corridor.

BRT corridors draw in “nontraditional” manufacturing. A noted surprising aspect of this study was that the manufacturing industry seems to be drawn to BRT corridors. Cleveland’s Healthline BRT has seen microbreweries setting up show in the corridor.

BRT corridors fared better than other areas after the recession. During the economic recovery following the 2008 recession, these corridors also increased their share of office space by one-third, and more higher-wage job growth occurred near BRT stations than occurred in central counties. During the economic recovery, BRT station areas saw the largest positive shift in the share of upper-wage jobs, and employment in the manufacturing sector increased.

The study was published by the National Institute of Transportation and Communities at Portland State University and was funded partially through a grant from Transportation for America. Dr. Nelson, who began the study at the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Research Center, is currently Professor of Planning & Real Estate Development at the University of Arizona.


Bus rapid transit coming soon graphic map


Written by The Rapid

The Rapid (Interurban Transit Partnership) is the authority that provides a variety of public transportation services for the Grand Rapids metro area and beyond. It is organized and operates under Michigan Public Act 196 of 1986.