Transportation systems are the glue that binds together American cities. From the first boulevard, through the horse-drawn streetcars of the 19th Century, through the electric trolleys of the early 1990s, to the freeways of the post-World War II era, transportation investments have long played a defining role in guiding the growth and development of metropolitan areas. What is today called the “transportation-land use connection” has been the object of study by geographers and economists for more than 150 years, and the focus of attention for developers and speculators for even longer.
This report explores the transit-land use connection from the transit side. Drawing on data for five urban rail transit systems here in California (BART, CalTrain, Sacramento Light Rail, the San Diego Trolley, and Santa Clara Light Rail), it uses statistical models to clarify the relationships between transit investments, land uses, and property values. Four types of transit-land use/ property value relationships are considered:
- Relationships between rail transit investments and single-family home prices;
- Relationships between rail transit investments and commercial property values;
- Relationships between rail transit investments and station area land use changes; and,
- Relationships between rail transit investments and metropolitan-scale land use changes
In the policy context, this report responds to policy questions. The first is fiscal in nature; the second relates to issues of development policy.