Effects of Light-Rail Transit on Traffic in a Travel Corridor

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - tram/light rail, policy - congestion, policy - environment


light rail transit (LRT), travel corridor, traffic congestion, energy consumption, air pollution, University of Utah’s TRAX LRT line


An important debate is taking place over the value of transit in easing traffic congestion. This study sought to quantify the effect of light rail transit (LRT) on traffic in a travel corridor and provide quantitative data that can be used to shape future transportation policies aimed at reducing traffic congestion, energy consumption, and air pollution. Using a quasi-experiment design and data before and after the University of Utah’s TRAX LRT line was opened, we estimated that traffic on the street with LRT (400/500 South) decreased by 7,500 to 21,700 due to the availability of a high-quality transit serving destinations along the line, and, most important, the University of Utah. Traffic on 400/500 South decreased despite significant development in the corridor and expansion of the university. Based on our estimates, LRT along 400/500 South saves about 362,000 gallons of gasoline and prevents about 7 million pounds of CO2 from being emitted each year.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by National Center for Transit Research, University of South Florida, copyright remains with them.