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23 Sep 2013
Increasingly, cities in the US, finding themselves short of funds, are wondering whether BRT, a lower cost mass transit solution initially developed in Latin America and a relatively new form of mass transit in the US, could also be used here to leverage transit-oriented development investments. This report provides an answer.
In the wake of the 2008 economic downturn, Cleveland, Ohio, along with other former industrial US cites, faced severe financial difficulties. While a tough regional economy and shrinking population forced many of the surrounding cities to cut public services and reduce jobs in the public and private sectors, Cleveland managed to transform a modest $50 million investment in bus rapid transit into $5.8 billion in new transit- oriented development. By putting bus rapid transit (BRT) along a strategic corridor and concentrating government redevelopment efforts there, Cleveland managed to leverage $114.54 dollars of new transit-oriented investment for every dollar it invested into the BRT system, adding jobs and revitalizing the city center.
Pittsburgh’s Martin Luther King, Jr. East Busway BRT is quickly becoming a second success. While it has so far leveraged less overall investment than some of the other transit corridors we studied, the development is new and is happening rapidly. This BRT has been operational since 1983 and yet only in the last few years has development really taken off. It is a testament to the need for a strong planning effort but shows that this effort does not have to be initiated by the city. Most of the development that has occurred in the East Liberty neighborhood, adjacent to East Liberty BRT Station, has been the result of a concerted effort by East Liberty Development, Inc. (ELDI) and the local philanthropic community.
Cities in the US still have a way to go in transforming existing auto-oriented suburbs or blighted inner urban areas into vibrant, high quality transit-oriented communities. This report provides start-to-finish guidance on what it takes to make Transit-oriented Development happen.