Longitudinal Analysis of Transit's Land Use Multiplier in Three Regions

To date much transportation research has relied on cross-sectional data, and leaders in the field have increasingly begun to call for research on longitudinal studies to investigate the impacts of changes in the built environment to travel outcomes over time. Handy (2017) pointed: “I would discourage researchers from producing yet more cross-sectional studies … we need before-and-after evaluations of the impact of changes in the built environment on VMT and other aspects of travel behavior … These kinds of studies provide a much stronger assessment of the potential for compact development to reduce VMT, although they are more challenging than cross-sectional studies.” Previous research has indicated that transit expansions such as light rail can lead to a ‘transit multiplier’ effect, whereby VMT is reduced by amount greater than simply that caused by conversion of individual trips from vehicular travel to transit. Transit stations become hubs of commercial and other activity, as well as sites of greater density, and produce additional trips by modes such as walking and bicycling in the process. Very few studies have explored this effect with longitudinal data over time, and those that have were confined to single metropolitan areas, thereby lacking in external validity. Using a quasi-experimental design and data from three metropolitan regions (Sacramento, CA, Seattle, WA, and Austin, TX), this research will produce such a before-and-after study to quantify the changes in VMT, transit usage, and active travel for households along light rail expansions. For these three regions, we have household travel survey data for two points of time and each of them had opened new or extended existing light rail transit during the two points of time. We will employ either control corridors or propensity score matching to select households and compare their travel changes with households along the new transit lines. The result will provide the total (direct and indirect) effects of transit (or called multiplier) on travel. This research is essential to better understand and quantify the benefits (social, environmental, economic, and health) of expanding and improving high-quality public transit systems such as light rail.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Funding: USDOT $120,000, Matching $60,000


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $180000
  • 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 New Orleans

    Department of Planning and Urban Studies
    New Orleans, LA  United States  70148
  • Principal Investigators:

    Tian, Guang

  • Start Date: 20230601
  • Expected Completion Date: 20241031
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01901162
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Center for Equitable Transit-Oriented Communities (CETOC)
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3552348337
  • Files: RIP
  • Created Date: Nov 30 2023 4:45PM