Significant characteristics of the urban rail renaissance in the United States: A discriminant analysis


Bradley W. Lane

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - urban, mode - rail, mode - tram/light rail


United States, Transportation economics, Transport economics, Railroad construction, Public image, Line construction, Light rail transit, Economics, Cities


In the rebirth of light-rail in the US, there has been little quantitative work detailing the differences between cities that have built rail transit and those that have not. In this study, 18 independent variables measuring a variety of characteristics that might promote or hinder rail transit construction are examined for 13 cities that built rail and 22 that did not, but considered it. After isolating the most significant variables, a two-group discriminant analysis generates a function from a randomly chosen set of 25 cities, and then cross-validates it on a separate set of 10. That model attempts to classify the cities into their respective groups. A model with three significant independent variables is generated that correctly classifies 33 of the 35 cities. The results indicate that cities which chose to build rail already had relatively well-used bus systems. There also appears to be an image and economic development aspect associated with rail construction.


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