Examining the Role of Transit Investments on Opportunity Outcomes

Not all transportation investments help communities. Unfortunately, some negatively impact certain groups within society. Urban renewal projects, for instance, led to a decrease in transportation access, particularly in minority and low-income neighborhoods. Moreover, disproportionately high transportation costs can reduce access to healthcare, education, and job opportunities. Contemporary rail and bus-rapid transit investments, while conventionally considered beneficial to marginalized communities, can also be problematic. They may not connect people in these communities with their destinations of choice, resulting in reductions among basic bus services. They may even lead to adverse land use changes like gentrification and increase the pressures of displacement. The proposed project seeks to study transportation investments and the resulting outcomes across social and economic markers across different communities. This research will look back at historic transit and transportation investments, first using the City and County of Denver as our first case study and later to be expanded to other cities, potentially in collaboration with CETOC partners. The neighborhoods impacted by the investments will be tracked through time using American Community Survey and Census data as well as other datasets as necessary (e.g., land use, transportation infrastructure, property transactions, crime rates, air pollution, and heat island effects) on markers such as average income, education level, racial and ethnic composition, rate of incarceration, and employment, among others. The study will explore traditional spatial and temporal relational models (e.g., time series, hierarchical models with time series effect, spatial autoregression and self-selection models) to identify the effects of the investments through time and space in addition to Bayesian models and its derivatives. Visual methods like time-space diagrams will also be examined as a means to better explain the findings to practitioners and policymakers. The idea for the visualization tool has two dimensions: (i) a time-space activity diagram can help us understand how different transportation investments can expand community accessibility and can act as a useful tool for prioritizing projects; and (ii) developing an interactive web-based visualization of the impact of transportation investment on housing and displacement (based on past historical data and predictive models) can help us to understand possible scenarios and develop regulations pre-emptively. For communities, it can create awareness of future opportunities and threats. For policy makers, it can help in identifying neighborhoods and communities to be protected and supported. For example, if investing in a bus line to hopes of helping a marginalized community address their transportation needs instead threatens to displace that community itself, there may be policy levers worth exploring (e.g., a premium on property transactions in that area may be mandated for some time along with making the transit free or subsidized for the community). Our interactive map will help in identifying the catchment area of displacement and the estimated timeline for which such policies should remain in place.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Funding: $150,000 (USDOT) + $75,000 (matching)


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $225000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Center for Equitable Transit-Oriented Communities (CETOC)

    University of New Orleans
    New Orleans, LA  United States 
  • Project Managers:

    Kline, Robin

    Tian, Guang

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Colorado, Denver

    Denver, CO  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Misra, Aditi

    Shirgaokar, Manish

    Marshall, Wesley

  • Start Date: 20231001
  • Expected Completion Date: 20240930
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01900215
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Center for Equitable Transit-Oriented Communities (CETOC)
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3552348337
  • Files: RIP
  • Created Date: Nov 20 2023 4:52PM