Two new reports say Albuquerque Rapid Transit will improve access to jobs and residences and spur upwards of $3 billion in new property development near the transit corridor.
Business owners and concerned citizens have been vocal in their opposition to the city’s plans for a new rapid transit system along the Central Avenue corridor, claiming that construction during its implementation could put struggling stores out of business and criticizing the city’s planning of the project as “piecemeal” and uninformed.
But the new studies project ART’s improvements to the current bus system to be well worth the pain.
The Mid-Region Council of Governments released a report in December showing that one of the major benefits of the new system could be access to more jobs and residences due to the combined effect of increased service frequency, reduced transit travel times and greater reliability.
Essentially, according to the study, ART’s reduced travel times will allow commuters to get farther in a given time period than they currently can, giving the public transit system a much wider reach.
Currently in a 45-minute bus commute, people leaving Central Avenue and Coors Boulevard have access to 212,141 residences and 111,892 places of employment. With ART, those numbers would increase by 45 and 61 percent respectively.
Meanwhile, another report that’s currently being compiled by the Center for Neighborhood Technology, based in Chicago, says ART’s improvements to local transit would save riders between 8 and 16 percent of their income, an overview of the study shows.
“As location efficiency goes up, vehicle ownership and the cost of travel goes down,” said Scott Bernstein, president and co-founder of CNT.
An earlier NAIOP study projected around $940 million in property development resulting from ART. The CNT study sees $2 to $3 billion in property development, and arrives at that figure by adding one-eighth of a mile to the half-mile radius around each station that NAIOP looked at.
According to Bernstein, in terms of the walkability and development associated with rapid transit, people are willing to go a little farther than the standard half-mile buffer.
The increased figure also takes into account the effect that improving the city’s building-to-land ratio requirements would have on property values. One way to do this involves lowering the minimum parking requirements for commercial development, as less space for cars amounts to more space for development, and subsequently higher property values.
Bernstein, who presented CNT’s findings in Albuquerque in August, said that while he was here he heard many of the same complaints from business owners that were recently reported in a Business First article, and that they are identical to the ones he’s heard in other cities, like Cleveland and Phoenix, where rapid transit was eventually celebrated as a huge success.
“There’s always been a lot of grumbling,” he said. “But people learn to adapt.”
By: Blake Driver (Albuquerque Business First)
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