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Articles by Jon Schmitz in the Post-Gazette on June 20 and 21 described a bus rapid transit line in Cleveland. The stories suggest that building a similar line between Downtown and the Hill District and Uptown would generate extra tax revenues for Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and the school district.

That would happen because land values would rise along the popular transit line, especially close to the entry and exit stations. A saying is that the three most important determinants of real estate value are location, location, location.

Those hopes for higher revenues are overly optimistic, however. Any increase in tax revenues would be minimized because Allegheny County taxes land and buildings at the same rate, while most of the assessed value of a typical property is on the building instead of on the land. Overall tax revenues could be increased by obtaining more from the value of land and less from the value of buildings.

Prior to 2001, Pittsburgh benefited from a lower tax rate on the value of buildings than of land. Also helpful would be more frequent property reassessments.




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