Economic Benefits of Walkability and Transit

In addition to the social, experiential and public benefits of walkable and transit-oriented cities, there are also many economic benefits to be considered.

An article published in the New York Times in January of 2010 reported that some real estate agents were beginning to consider walkability an important factor in determining the value of a location. A study by C.E.O.’s for Cities looked at the 100-point scale Walk Score and the corresponding values of homes and neighborhoods. Data and observations have shown that home in more walk-friendly neighborhoods sold for higher than homes in other neighborhoods, and that the value of the walkable homes declined less in the recent recession.

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In October of 2008, the Denver Post reported that home prices closer to light rail lines avoided the decline seen throughout most of the metropolitan area. The closer the home to a rail station, the higher the value. Home prices near light rail stations increased by an average of 4% during the same time period that most other home values decreased by 7.5%.

In July of 2009, Time magazine reported a study conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute in 2007 of 439 urban areas nationwide. The numbers are sometimes staggering and illuminate the room for change and opportunity in the realm of cities and transportation. In 2007, Americans collectively spent 500,000 years sitting in traffic. 500,000 years. This amounted to $87.2 billion in fuel costs and lost productivity. Imagine what else could have been done with that time, energy and money. Certainly more constructive pursuits could have been followed for the benefit of everyone.

With such clear social and economic benefits to walkable and transit-oriented cities and urban areas, it is a wonder there is not more effort made to update outdated infrastructure. Even if only the $87.2 billion lost to traffic each year was invested, a great deal could be accomplished. The best way to move forward seems to be to educate the public about these benefits to try to garner support for wise decisions and planning in the future.

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