Daniel Rodriguez, UNC Chapel Hill

Presentation Title: Bus-Rapid-Oriented Development in Latin America: Lessons and Challenges

Rodríguez is Director of the Carolina Transportation Program, professor in city and regional planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and adjunct professor of epidemiology at UNC-Chapel Hill. His research focuses on the reciprocal relationship between the built environment and transportation, and its effects on the environment and health. He is the author of more than 70-peer reviewed publications and a co-author of the book Urban Land Use Planning (University of Illinois Press). Rodríguez’s research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, among others. He is currently appointed to one standing committee of the National Academies’ Transportation Research Board and serves in the editorial board of five academic journals.

A description of his presentation is as follows:
“Although bus rapid transit (BRT) has become an increasingly popular transportation innovation in cities worldwide, little is known about the built environment around stop of these mass transit investments. This presentation will summarize a number of studies examining the land development impacts of BRT. First, I present a typology of urban development around 81 BRT stops in seven Latin American cities. Using factor and cluster analysis we examined primary and secondary data collected within 250 meters of regular BRT stops and 500 meters of BRT terminals. Ten BRT stop types were identified, eight of which were represented in several cities. Some stop types had attributes consistent with expectations of what are transit oriented development features. Other stops types were burdened by incompatible land uses and barriers to station access, while others captured conditions prevalent in many Latin American cities: mixed of land uses, informal housing distant from activity nodes, large commercial developments –frequently big-box– providing private spaces for public use and recreation, and a relative absence of green spaces open to the public.

Second, we present a quasi-experimental, difference-in-differences approach to examine land development around BRT in Quito (Ecuador) and Bogotá (Colombia). Outcomes include land market characteristics such as built area added per year (both cities), units added (Quito), and building permits issued (Bogotá). Our results reveal heterogeneous impacts in both cities. Although increased building activity tends to concentrate in intervention zones, comparisons with controls suggest that the impacts are very context dependent. Some stops showed very high building activity and others less so. In Bogotá, the highest activity concentrated in zones that had already received the BRT, suggesting delayed impacts from the earlier investments. In Quito there were important differences across different types of development (houses, apartments, offices).

Third, we use qualitative analyses to examine interviews conducted with 44 key informants in both cities to understand the factors that explain the presence or absence of land developments around BRT stops and terminals. Nine themes emerged as important explanations for the (lack of) impacts of BRT investments around particular stops. The themes differ in scope and characteristics, but they underscore the importance of accessibility gains provided by the BRT, land market conditions, agency coordination and vision, land availability, and timing of development vis a vis the BRT investment. We also identify the challenges of providing affordable housing in BRT oriented development, and discuss several cases in which land prices increased so that land otherwise suitable for affordable housing became unaffordable due to the investment.

Together, the lessons from this research program can assist planners and city leaders to better plan for land development patterns that could be encouraged given BRT investments.”

Professor Rodriguez will be hosted by GES faculty Dr. Elizabeth Delmelle.