Spotlighting Innovation by ARTBA’s Research & Education Division

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National Institute for Transportation and Communities Explores Economic Impact of Bus Rapid Transit
Bus rapid transit (BRT) has a positive impact on jobs, housing and development, according to a new report by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC).

The report, “National Study of BRT Development Outcomes,” looked at systems across the country, and found that BRT influences development patterns in important ways.

Key findings include:

  • After the Great Recession, BRT corridors increased their share of new office space by a third.
  • At the same time, multifamily apartment construction doubled in share along BRT corridors.
  • BRT corridors increase employment in the manufacturing sector.
  • There is an office-rent premium for locating within a BRT corridor.
  • During the economic recovery, BRT corridors saw the largest positive shift in the share of upper-wage jobs.
  • Technically advanced BRT systems have a greater impact on development than less advanced systems.

BRT has experienced growing popularity in recent years because it offers benefits traditionally associated with light-rail transit systems but with lower capital costs and greater flexibility. This report’s findings allow planners and policymakers considering the use of BRT to make an informed choice while taking into account the potential for BRT’s use as an economic development tool.

Arthur C. Nelson at the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Research Center directed the research. NITC is a program of the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University.

Contact: TREC Communications Director Justin Carinci

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Rensselear Polytechnic Institute Creates Model to Address Freight Transportation Challenges
Freight transportation challenges are being solved by a new analysis technique developed by researchers at the Center for Infrastructure, Transportation, and the Environment (CITE) at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute and the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF) Center of Excellence for Sustainable Urban Freight Systems (CoE-SUFS).

Using confidential micro-data collected by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Commodity Flow Survey, CITE and VREF CoE SUSF researchers estimated the amount of cargo produced by commercial establishments.  In turn, municipalities and state transportation departments can evaluate the estimates to make better planning decisions to improve freight mobility, enhance local economic competitiveness, and efficiently manage infrastructure.

Practitioners use Decision Support Tools (DSTs) created as part of the model to analyze and find solutions to various freight transportation challenges. Two of the most popular DSTs are:

The Freight Trip Generation Estimator, which has been used by several transportation agencies to analyze truck parking issues, congestion problems, and freight corridors in their regions. An expanded set of new models that estimate the amount of cargo generated and number of freight and service vehicle trips will be released in early 2016.

The Initiative Selector Tool for Improving Freight System Performance, a dynamic web-based tool that provides practitioners with suggestions about possible solution strategies to address given freight issues.

These DSTs were developed with funding from CITE, CoE-SUFS, and the National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP) projects #25 “Freight Trip Generation and Land Use” and #38 “Improving Freight System Performance in Metropolitan Areas.” They are available free of charge to the transportation community.

Contact: CITE Director and VREF CoE-SUFS Director José Holguín-Veras.

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For more information on these and other projects, go to If you are working on an interesting project and would like to have your research highlighted, contact Lital Shair Nada.

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