by APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy
High-frequency public transit makes communities better and consumers are responding by making these communities popular, even during a recession.
These communities are better because public transit makes all other mobility options more functional—fewer cars on the road, more walkable neighborhoods and an environment more accessible to cyclists.
APTA and NAR Releases New Study
Recently, along with the National Association of Realtors, we released new information from the study The New Real-Estate Mantra: Location near Public Transportation.
We looked at data from a five-region representative sample of the U.S. They showed that average sales prices for residences in close proximity to high-frequency public transit were more stable during the recession, supporting the assertion that public transit access helped mitigate the effects of the recession on property values.
In fact on average, home values performed 42 percent better when located near high-frequency public transportation.
What do I mean by high-frequency public transit? High-frequency public transportation includes heavy rail, or commonly known as subway, light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit or also referred to as BRT.
Why do Home Values Perform Better Near Public Transit?
First, consumers are choosing neighborhoods with high-frequency public transit because they provide more mobility options. People like the idea of having more than one way of getting around.
Second, these areas have superior access to jobs compared to nearby areas without similar public transit investment.
And third, other attractive amenities in these neighborhoods include lower transportation costs and walkable areas. And when I say lower transportation costs that means lower transportation costs for all in the area. Lower cost even for those who do not use public transit because these areas are also known for shorter car trips due to robust amenities close by. In addition there are many opportunities for walking and biking.
These findings show that communities benefit when they respond to market demand. Clearly consumers are voting with their feet, showing they want communities with more choices.
Five-Region Study Area
In this study, we chose five regions that are a representative sample of the types of high-frequency public transit systems throughout the U.S.
The five cities are Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Francisco, Chicago, Phoenix and Boston. These cities are also representative of the type of communities that are served by public transit around the country.
While residential property values declined substantially between 2006 to 2011, properties close to public transit showed significantly stronger resiliency. The following are a few examples from the study: In Boston, residential property in the rapid transit area outperformed other properties in the region by an incredible 129 percent. In the Chicago public transit area home values performed 30 percent better than the region; in San Francisco, 37 percent; Minneapolis-St Paul, 48 percent; and in Phoenix 37 percent.
Impact on Access to Jobs and Transportation Costs
Now let’s take a deeper look at Boston and Phoenix and I will focus on two important factors: 1) access to jobs and 2) transportation cost for residents living near fixed-guideway public transit. Boston has a mature public transportation system and Phoenix represent a relatively new system.
When we look at access to jobs, the Phoenix public transit area provides 88,000 jobs per square mile versus 32,000 jobs for the region. That equates to more than twice as many jobs per square mile. Those who live near high-frequency public transit in Phoenix save $175 dollars per month in transportation costs.
The Boston public transit area provides access to almost three times as many jobs per square mile. There are 170,000 jobs in the Boston transit area versus 57,000 in the region per square mile.
In the Boston public transit area, residents save $351 per month versus those who do not live near fixed-guideway public transit.
Community as a Whole Benefits from Home Value Resiliency
Finally, these findings show that communities benefit when they respond to market demand. Clearly consumers are voting with their feet, showing they want communities with more choices.
The presence of high-frequency transit not only benefits individual property owners, it also supports a more resilient tax base.
In fact, stable property values in areas with public transit access have a number of policy implications.
First, as Congress and state and local governments look for ways to accelerate growth and promote long-term economic health, these data show that investing in public transportation is a boon to revitalizing our economy.
Secondly, public transportation infrastructure investment can support other community goals, such as public safety, access to education and a healthier more vibrant community.
We need higher levels of long-term investment to keep up.