Revisiting the Empirical Foundations for Measuring The Capitalization of Access to Transit

There remains little consensus as to the valuation of access to light rail. Indeed, the literature on access includes a wide variety of estimates of access capitalization into surrounding land and property values. While the modal results seems to point to modest benefits to proximity to rail stations, several recent papers suggest these papers may, in fact, be reporting net benefits to a bundle of spatial amenities and disamenities spatially correlated with the stations. A distinct and significantly more nettlesome problem was addressed in METRANS project 04-18. While this research documented the instability and provided some evidence as to its source, the solution it proposed left several questions unanswered. With regards to the technical aspects of the non-parametric approach, the project provided little guidance as to formal hypothesis testing. Furthermore, it suggested that only data from before and after the provision of rail services could provide clean identification of the value of access, implying that much of the existing network of freeways, bus lines, and rail lines were beyond analysis. In light of feedback the previous research has generated, it appears that both of these weaknesses can be addressed. The first part of the proposed research would formalize the statistical basis for non-parametric analysis of capitalization. This is an essential element of gaining acceptance in a field dominated by the (demonstrably unstable) hedonic regression. The second part would employ a formalized non-parametric approach to assess both rail and highway access capitalization in the Los Angeles Metropolitan area.