National Study of BRT Development Outcomes

Arthur C. Nelson, University of Utah



Public transit systems are often promoted as offering a plethora of social, economic and environmental benefits to urban populations by transforming urban forms from auto-centric designs into more sustainable ones. The “next big thing” in public transit is bus rapid transit (BRT) systems. From virtually no systems a generation ago, there are now nearly 20 lines operating with at least seven under construction and more than 20 in the planning stages. Part of this recent popularity in BRT stems from its more affordable capital investment costs and its potential to be utilized by municipal planning organizations as an economic development tool. Yet, research observing the extent of economic development potential between BRT types remains nascent. So, are BRT systems effective in attracting development? To answer this and many more trending BRT questions, the Metropolitan Research Center has reviewed multiple studies using data from the United States Census Bureau, Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics, and CoStar data in a quasi-experimental, compare-and-contrast research design to compare jobs, population and households, and housing units before and after BRT station construction relative to control stations and the stations’ metropolitan context. Our units of analysis are the 2010 census blocks and their assemblages into block groups as data allow within 0.25-mile buffers. Our research was designed to gather information and data about a number of relevant questions related to BRT and economic development. The evaluation sought to answer the following questions: • How does BRT influence development patterns? • What are the effects of BRT on sectoral employment change in the United States? • How does BRT affect housing location affordability? • What is the relationship between BRT and its surrounding area’s wage-related job change? • Does the type of BRT system technology make a difference in economic development outcomes?

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
End Date:
December 31,2015
UTC Grant Cycle:
Tier 1 Round 2
UTC Funding: