On August 29, 2011 the Center for Housing Policy released Public Transit’s Impact on Housing Costs: A Review of the Literature, which summarizes the extensive body of research on whether public transit influences the cost of nearby housing. The brief finds that access to public transit generally leads to higher home values and rents, but the magnitude and direction of the impact can vary both across metro areas and from station to station within a single metro. In most cases, the impact is positive and can be quite large, but a few studies have found the effects to be neutral or negative.

Certain conditions appear more likely to lead to higher housing costs near transit stations than others, including: A public transit system that significantly improves regional accessibility A strong housing market A pedestrian-friendly, walkable station area Supportive zoning and public policies that encourage growth As noted above, however, housing costs do not always rise, and sometimes the “nuisance effects” associated with public transit — noise, pollution, traffic — can lower nearby housing values. Findings on this topic are also discussed.

Where costs rise, they often do so years before the system is operational. This underscores the importance of adopting policies early in the planning process both to preserve existing affordable housing near proposed stations and to include affordable options in any new development. For communities planning to make public transit investments in the future, the brief concludes by discussing housing policies intended to ensure that households of all incomes benefit from the improved accessibility.