For Immediate Release:
April 10, 2018
Ian Savage, TRF President
Ann Warner LLC, TRF VP Public Relations
Paper Presented at TRF
Shows Light Rail Investment Increases Transit’s Share of Commuting and Adds Jobs
A study presented at this week’s Annual Transportation Research Forum (TRF) in Minneapolis, MN found that investments in light rail transit (LRT) increased the share of commuters using transit and improved labor market outcomes in communities that were served by new transit lines in four metropolitan areas: Minneapolis, Portland (Oregon), Salt Lake City, and Seattle.
The share of commuters using transit increased by 23 percent (from 14.5 percent to 17.8 percent) as a result of the availability of LRT service. The employment rate near LRT stations increased by 3.0 percentage points, the labor force participation rate increased by 2.0 percentage points, and the unemployment rate fell by 1.7 percentage points. The analysis showed the likelihood of using transit increased particularly for younger workers and lower-income workers.
The study focused on LRT stations built as part of light rail lines connecting airports to central cities during 2000-2013. Focusing on stations built as part of an airport LRT line helps to ensure that the labor market impacts measured after the installation of the stations were a direct result of the LRT line and not the result of pre-existing economic development that itself led to the construction of the LRT line. These stations were built only because they happened to be on the way to the airport, not because they were already showing signs of economic development that led transportation planners to provide them with LRT service.
Some of the positive effects of LRT service were due to people moving into the neighborhoods that gained LRT service. These newcomers may have already had jobs or were already accustomed to using transit. But this “neighborhood sorting” effect only explained a small portion of the positive effects: about 7.2 percent of the increase in transit usage, about 24.2 percent of the increase in the labor force participation rate, and about 15.6 percent of the decline in the unemployment rate.
The study found that effects of LRT service on local property values were small and insignificant, as were demographic effects on racial and educational status characteristics of neighborhood residents.
LRT, sometimes referred to as “streetcars” or “trams”, refers to rail transit using shorter trains operating on more lightly traveled routes, and operating on both separated rights-of-way and on rights-of-way sharing streets with other vehicles.
The Transportation Research Forum (TRF) is an independent organization of transportation professionals founded in 1958 to provide an impartial meeting ground for carriers, shippers, government officials, consultants, university researchers, suppliers, and others seeking an exchange of information and ideas on both passenger and freight transportation. TRF conducts a national Annual Forum, and has chapters in New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Louis, and South Korea. www.trf.org
About the Author
The author of the paper is Justin Tyndall, a graduate student at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. The paper is entitled “Light Rail Transit, Local Labor Market Outcomes, and Household Sorting.”
Author Contact Information: Justin Tyndall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604.315.0623.