“People call us now rather than us calling them. And for a lifelong transit guy, that’s refreshing.”
A Public Investment for Growth
Operating rapid transit lines have also proven to provide both initial robust growth in transit ridership and sustained growth, Skoutalas said, which is also proving to be a positive for developers looking to build along a line and near stops.
“It’s really a higher level of service that’s going to attract a higher level of ridership,” Skoutalas said. “The more appealing it’s made, the more developers are going to look into building residential, or condos or commercial developments.”
In Vancouver, TransLink has been using rapid transit since 1996 using limited-stop buses as opposed to the more elaborate systems like in Cleveland. One of the lines has since been replaced with a rail line and another is slated for a rail line extension in the next several years. Although the buses have seen robust ridership numbers since implementation, Jeffrey Busby, senior manager of infrastructure planning for TransLink, said it’s very difficult to determine if it was a catalyst for economic growth.
“These B-Line buses are being put in corridors where some sort of rail or big transit investment is envisioned,” he said.
Since Pace leased out the Baker building, he has since moved on to another development along the BRT in downtown Cleveland known as the 5th Street Arcades, which is more retail oriented, which could rebuild shopping districts long lost to suburban communities near Cleveland.
Pace said the BRT line made it simpler for people to use the system as opposed to using a traditional bus, which has made it a more attractive mode of transportation for people in the area and made the corridor a place to continue investment. Besides the transit improvements, the implementation of BRT meant the city also made improvements to the streets as well as near the line and replaced extremely old utility lines, which also helped developers lure more businesses into the area and build economic growth.
“It wasn’t just the transit, but transit was a key component,” Pace said. “When you see those investments being made, you know as a developer that this is a place where I’d be safe making an investment.”