Buried in the ITDP report, though, is one conclusion that may prove stronger than the headline argument about how BRT trumps rail. It’s that government action on land use is necessary for a project to spur development.
The adage that “a good land use policy is the best transportation policy” oversimplifies things, but it’s clear that if the goal is to grow cities with transit, you have to actually allow the areas around new transit projects to grow.
The most successful project, which ITDP holds up as the model, is Cleveland’s Health Line. The line has catalyzed $5.8 billion worth of development since opening in 2008, apparently a product of high-quality implementation — buses come nearly every two minutes, and ITDP has ranked it has the best BRT system in the country — along with relatively robust rezoning and lots of institutional building along the line.
The authors don’t make the connection, but if buses are in fact more effective than rail at catalyzing development in the U.S. (and this is never proven), that could be due to the country’s third world-like transit cost structure…