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Land Value Impacts of Bus: The Case of Bogotá’s Transmilenio

Bus rapid transit has revolutionized regional transportation planning in much of the developing and developed world.

During the last decade, bus rapid transit (BRT) has revolutionized regional transportation planning in much of the developing and developed world. BRT went from being a fringe trans­portation option used in a handful of Brazilian and australian cities to becoming a prominent mass transportation alternative for local and national governments.

BRT is not a single concept; rather, it encom­passes a variety of applications designed to improve the level of service of bus-based mass transporta­tion to deliver comfortable, cost-effective mobility emulating rail transit (Wright and Hook 2007, 11). It relies on coordinated improvements in technology, infrastructure, and equipment to achieve qual­ity service (US general accounting office 2001). Operationally, BRT applications can include buses running on exclusive rights-of-way with dedicated stations and preboarding fare payments, or buses operating in mixed traffic lanes on city arterials.

Arguably the BRT concept with highest recog­nition is the provision of an exclusive right-of-way for bus transit coupled with high-frequency service. In south america, BRT systems in Curitiba, Brazil, and Bogotá, Colombia, feature networks of dedi­cated lanes designated for exclusive use by large-capacity, articulated buses, with expedited board­ing and alighting.

Twelve Latin American cities, three australian cities, seven US cities, eight Asian cities, and 18 European cities have BRTs in place. Some are complete systems while others are single lines. Systems actively under construction also span the globe, including Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, Jinan in China, Bologna in Italy, Mérida in Venezuela, and Auckland in New Zealand. As of March 2007, GTZ, germany’s federal development enterprise, estimated that there were at least 27 cities with active BRT planning processes, while 14 BRT systems are considering further expansions (Wright and Hook 2007).

the dramatic success of BRT is due in part to the cost-effectiveness and relative flexibility of the investments required. BRTs often can transport as many passengers as most conventional light rail systems at a fraction of the cost. BRTs also com­pare well with heavy rail systems, except under circumstances of very high passenger demand ex­ceeding 50,000 passengers per hour per direction. Like rail systems, however, the cost-effectiveness of BRT hinges on the ability to have supportive land uses that concentrate activity along system corridors. therefore, in most cases BRTs have been built in corridors with proven demand.

Transportation Investments and Land Redevelopment

It is also plausible that BRTs can attract dense development that will in turn enhance the BRT system in the future. This reciprocal connection between BRT investments and land development has been a cornerstone of Curitiba’s success. Despite the importance of this connection for the future viability and cost-effectiveness of BRTs, however, there is limited empirical evidence avail­able. With many cities considering new BRT lines or system expansions, understanding whether changes in land development can occur is criti­cal to anticipate the benefits of the system and to estimate the fiscal impacts of the investment.

Urban economic theory provides a starting point to explain how transportation investments can influence land development or redevelopment. Such investments are expected to provide accessibility benefits to those positively affected by it, through travel time savings afforded by the investment.

In a metropolitan land market, a transportation investment is expected to provide accessibility advantages to parcels close to the investment com­pared to parcels relatively unaffected by it. Because the number of parcels benefiting from the accessibility improvements is finite, households and firms valuing such benefits in a competitive market are expected to be willing to pay more for properties with good access over other properties, all else held equal. In this way, the access benefits of transpor­tation investments, if they exist, will be capitalized into property values.

The capitalization of accessibility benefits stimulates development by enhancing the attractiveness of parcels for development or redevelopment. Parcels that were not previously considered prime candidates for real estate investment appear more attractive after the transportation investment is an­nounced or implemented. alternatively, a parcel already developed or in the planning stages may be developed more intensely as a result of the in­crease in values. This relationship is the cornerstone of transit-oriented development.