The Impact of Transit-Oriented Development on Social Capital

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, mode - rail, land use - transit oriented development, land use - urban density, land use - impacts, ridership - perceptions, planning - surveys, infrastructure - station


Transit-oriented development, social capital, civic engagement, rail transit, station area


his paper focuses on the ability of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) to improve social capital and interactions within a community. The expectation is that TOD has a positive impact on the lifestyle and activities of individuals who reside, work, and frequent these locations, and that this can include increases in social capital. Using data from a survey of transit station locations in New Jersey, the authors examine how proximity to the station and various built environment variables are associated with different measures of social capital, derived from responses to survey questions. These questions inquire about respondents’ perceptions of their neighborhood as a place to live, sense of community, knowing their neighbors, trust, and whether their community is a good place to raise a child. The authors also include a question on volunteering in the community. These questions reflect various domains of social capital as established in the literature. Results generally do not support the hypothesis that social capital is associated with transit station proximity and TOD. Features of the built environment, proxied by population and employment density, are also not associated with increased social capital, and in some cases have a negative association. While there are some limited positive associations with some of the social capital variables, one of the strongest indicators is living in a detached family home.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Mineta Transportation Institute, copyright remains with them.