The cost of convenience; Air pollution and noise on freeway and arterial light rail station platforms in Los Angeles

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - subway/metro, mode - tram/light rail, infrastructure - station, technology - emissions, policy - sustainable, land use - impacts, land use - planning


Light rail transit, Particle count, Air pollution, Noise, Passenger exposure


Light rail transit (LRT) systems constitute one of the most sustainable public transportation modes and transit agencies have increasingly constructed LRT lines along the median of roadways to reduce land acquisition costs and traffic conflicts. Despite these conveniences, few studies have examined the air pollution and noise exposures for passengers on LRT station platforms within freeway or arterial medians. In response, we monitored particle number count (PNC) concentrations and noise levels on 17 station platforms in the Los Angeles metro system in summer 2012 and assessed differences between freeway and arterial platforms. We visited each station on average 7 times for approximately 19 min with two teams carrying a full set of instruments. As expected, impacts were higher on green line platforms in the center of a grade-separated freeway compared to blue line platforms in the center of an arterial due to being in close proximity to greater traffic volumes. Overall, freeway-arterial platform differences were 35,100 versus 20,000 particles/cm3 for PNC and 83 versus 62 dBA for noise. This average noise intensity on green line platforms was four times that on blue line stations. We also found that PNC concentrations were significantly higher at open air monitoring platform positions compared to standing under a shade canopy (about 2000 particles/cm3 higher), but that noise levels were significantly lower at open air positions compared to under canopy positions (about 3.2 dBA lower). Results identify important factors for transport planners to consider when locating and designing in-roadway LRT platforms


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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