Study: How Does Transit Really Impact Land Values?
Boosters of transit-oriented development often operate by the assumption that land values will rise, inevitably, next to transit. Laura Bliss writes, "Cities can 'capture' this 'land value uplift' to pay for transportation infrastructure projects (for example, by creating a special tax on certain developments that are projected to benefit most from the expanded transit access)."
The results of a recent study throw some doubt on that simple equation. While transit does stimulate land values in some locations, in others it has little effect. "[...] the results of some [heavy rail transit] studies are insignificant, negligible, or even negative, and there are sometimes stark differences between studies in the same city."
Two factors complicate the picture. First, badly-sited new transit may not provide real benefits on the ground. "If a neighborhood is already well served by convenient access to a highway system, or by cycling and pedestrian options, a wonderful new transit line might not result in more 'accessibility.'"
Second, looking at proximity by itself ignores how well—or how poorly—other factors are complementing the transit. "For example, mixed-use zoning, open and public spaces, amenity-rich neighborhoods, and pedestrian-oriented street design all carry positive effects on land value. When models overlook these factors, they paint an incomplete picture of projected land values in an area—and even worse, the authors write, researchers can mistakenly claim them as empirical evidence of the benefits of accessibility."