Urban Planning Professor Arthur C. Nelson Discusses Bus Rapid Transit Investment in The Washington Post

July 30, 2021


Bus in motion at night
Photo by StockSnap, courtesy Pixabay.

Arthur C. Nelson, professor of urban planning and real estate development in the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona, was quoted in a July 23, 2021 article in The Washington Post on rapid transit and urban growth.

Fundamental to the article is the question of whether transit investment should aim to “help people traverse urban sprawl or reshape it.” The article specifically examines bus rapid transit, or BRT, noting that the Federal Transit Administration awarded $375 million in 2020 to help build the BRT lines, “the largest sum in a decade, according to agency records,” says the article. “The lines take the humblest form of public transit, the city bus, and supercharge it using a combination of technology, road redesigns and route planning tweaks.”

The article examines how BRT lines can promote density around transit stops. Research by Nelson and other UArizona researchers examined areas around BRT stations in 11 cities between 2013 and 2019, finding that areas close to the stations “accounted for a significant share of regional growth.” Though “it is not clear whether the new lines spurred the growth or whether they were established in areas already primed to grow,” says the article about Cleveland’s HealthLine station, for example, Nelson says that “experts generally have found that investments in transit promote density and growth.”

“I suspect the level of private investment depends on the quality of the BRT,” Nelson states in the article. “Cleveland’s is considered the nation’s best and probably most expensive, but others have made solid investments to build systems that attract development.”

Nelson joined CAPLA in 2014 after serving as presidential professor and director of the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah. As the author of nearly 30 books and more than 400 other scholarly publications and principal investigator or co-principal investigator of more than $50 million in grants, Nelson is ranked 9th nationally among more than 1,000 planning professors in the quality of published work based on scientific metrics.


Arthur C. Nelson, Professor of Urban Planning and Real Estate Development


Quoted in The Washington Post on bus rapid transit


July 23, 2021