Transit improvements fuel economic growth

This rendering shows a completed stop for a new rapid bus route under construction that will cross downtown Richmond and is drawing attention from city planners and property developers. (© GRTC)

As interested home buyers and renters consider the advantages of living near transit, Senior Attorney Trip Pollard, who heads SELC’s Land & Community Program, examined how improving one city’s transit system is boosting economic activity while providing cleaner transportation choices and other benefits. In a recent edition of the Richmond Area Realtor’s Housing Interpreter, Pollard along with co-author Lisa Guthrie, Executive Director of the Virginia Transit Association, laid out the many ways expanding transportation options are helping cities like Richmond.

Portions of the article are excerpted below and you can read the full article at this link.


Localities are expanding transportation options nationwide, providing better access and more public transportation, rail, bicycling and walking choices. Here in the Greater Richmond Region, significant steps have been taken recently to address one of our greatest transportation gaps — the lack of effective regional public transportation services.

The surge in attention to transit and other transportation choices is primarily due to the multiple benefits these options offer; helping to boost economic activity, relieve traffic congestion, provide greater access to jobs, revitalize communities and reduce vehicle pollution.

Forward-thinking communities increasingly recognize that a community’s ability to successfully attract and retain young professionals and prosperous retirees depends on a strong transit system.

In addition, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), transit generates $4 in economic returns for every $1 invested and residential property values performed 42 percent better on average if they were located near public transportation with high-frequency service.

This is an exciting time for transit in our region. The new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, the Pulse, is the largest transit infrastructure investment in the city in decades. The Pulse will begin to roll down Broad and Main Streets in 2018, running buses every 10-15 minutes along its 7.6-mile route.

GRTC will launch a new transit network plan at the same time as the Pulse. The network plan will better integrate existing routes with the new system, and it will also provide more frequent service on other routes, but with fewer stops, to go farther faster.

The economic study GRTC conducted concluded that the Pulse could significantly increase local property values, including raising residential property values by $349 million to $1.2 billion. To help capture potential benefits, city council recently adopted a Pulse Corridor Plan that will encourage greater development near the new transit stations with an emphasis on more compact, mixed use development and fewer parking lots, while also providing incentives for providing affordable housing.

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