Summary

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) held a briefing on the resiliency of residential real estate values located in areas well-connected by public transportation. Although the recent economic crisis had a negative effect on housing prices around the country, property values with good access to public transit remained much closer to their pre-recession levels than properties without access, even within the same city. A new report commissioned by APTA and NAR investigates the relationship between residential real estate and public transportation in five U.S. metropolitan regions. The study, The New Real Estate Mantra: Location Near Public Transportation, was released on March 21.

  • APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy shared the key findings of the report, The New Real Estate Mantra: Location Near Public Transportation. Released at the EESI briefing, the report examined how well residential properties within one-half mile of a fixed-rail transit station held their value between 2006 and 2011. Across the five study regions, transit-adjacent homes outperformed the regions as a whole by 41.6 percent, proving to be far more resilient to the impacts of the recession.
  • Boston had the highest disparity of the five regions, with homes near transit outperforming the full region by 129 percent. Boston was followed by Minneapolis-St. Paul (48 percent), Phoenix and San Francisco (37 percent), and Chicago (30 percent).
  • Links between economic development and transit were also highlighted. For example, in Phoenix, $1.7 billion in transit investment has resulted in $7 billion in economic development investment in the transit corridor. The transit corridor now boasts 88,000 jobs per square mile, double the concentration outside of the corridor.
  • Public transportation growth remains popular at the local level. In 2012, 49 of 62 state and local ballot initiatives to raise taxes for transit construction were approved by voters.
  • Jed Smith, Senior Economist for the National Association of Realtors, noted that there is a significant economic benefit to high transit communities, as well as a high social value. Transit is important for building communities: it provides mobility, jobs, and walkability. High frequency public transportation also reduces congestion, fosters economic development, and mitigates local air pollution.
  • The creation of a community is especially important for those under 30 years old, often referred to as the Millennial generation. This young generation has been making real estate decisions that demonstrate an interest in driving less, walking more, and being more dependent on high-frequency public transportation.
  • Reconnecting America Policy Director Sarah Kline spoke about the idea of a "complete community" – a place that provides everything a person or family needs, including access to jobs, affordable housing, education options, parks, healthcare, and healthy food. Reconnecting America has found that a high-frequency public transportation service is the linchpin to a healthy community.
  • Additionally, high-frequency transit creates economic development and business development. For example, Portland, OR, has had more than $8 billion in new development adjacent to its light rail stations. Blockbuster cited the light rail system as a reason for choosing to locate its headquarters in downtown Portland.
  • Demand for housing near transit is growing, as is demand for transit projects. There are over 500 planned transit projects in regions all across the country, with a combined price tag of approximately $250 billion. Federal funding offered through the New Starts program meets only a very small portion of this demand.
  • With local communities benefiting from regional transit investment, there is an opportunity to better capture that value in order to share the costs of building new transit systems and maintaining existing ones.
  • Public-private partnerships offer one pathway to develop new funding from those who benefit from a transit system’s presence and operation. These partnerships could be used to help repay federal loans from the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program, making the loans more attractive at the outset.