New Analysis: Proximity to Bus Routes Raises Property Values

I just finished up a GIS course on Coursera, and for the capstone project I tried to answer the question, “Does being near a bus route make your home more or less valuable?” I could see it go either way – bus service is an amenity, and the value of that amenity should be reflected in the value of a home located nearby. On the other hand, bus service – especially outside of the Boston area – has a stigma to it (the result of classism, or racism, or both). So I could see property values actually being lower the closer they were to bus lines.

I did the analysis for properties served by Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) because their boundaries are pretty set – the MBTA service area is a little mushier, with Commuter Rail service spanning all the way to Worcester. The analysis shows that in almost all parts of the state, having a home near a bus line raises the value of your property.

Legend shows impact of proximity to rubber tire transit per meter closer to a bus route. So a value of $20 would mean that for every meter closer to a bus route, a residential property would be $20/acre higher. 

What’s really exciting about this analysis is that it’s the first I’ve heard of which looks specifically at rubber tire bus service. Most other studies look at rail transit or bus rapid transit, generally finding positive impacts on property values. These studies are often used to justify investment in building rail or BRT facilities.

While rubber tire bus service doesn’t require the same level of capital outlay as other kinds of transit, it still requires investment and community support. I hope this analysis will help generate a little more excitement for bus routes and dispel some of the stigma.

For anyone interested in the details of how I did the analysis, you can read the report here. Without getting too technical, I used a linear regression model to control for variables like access to jobs, access to highways, crime rate, school quality, etc. This helped to isolate the impact of transit alone without these confounding variables.

If you have any questions or thoughts, please send them my way! You can direct message me on Twitter, @pricearmstrong.


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