Rubber Tires for Residents: Bus Rapid Transit and Changing Neighborhoods in Los Angeles, California


Anne E. Brown

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, mode - bus rapid transit, land use - impacts


Bus rapid transit (BRT), economic, gentrification, neighborhood change


Bus rapid transit (BRT), mass transit that provides rail-like service on rubber tires, is gaining popularity in the United States as a lower-cost alternative to rail. Despite its growing popularity and previous research that links rail transit-oriented development to gentrification, the effects of domestic BRT on surrounding neighborhoods remains largely unexplored. This paper fills that gap by exploring neighborhood change around the Los Angeles, California, Orange Line, the most heavily patronized BRT line in the United States between 2000 and 2013. This study found that neighborhoods within a ½-mi radius of Orange Line stations changed more than those located 2 and 5 mi from stations. While neighborhood racial–ethnic compositions remained relatively static, rising median home values, rents, and increasing educational attainment of residents suggest economic transitions and gentrification within Orange Line–adjacent communities. In addition, neighborhoods with lower median rents, lower median household incomes, and higher proportions of renter-occupied housing in 2000 were more likely to exhibit higher degrees of change by 2013 than were other areas. Together, these findings suggest that economic preconditions rather than racial–ethnic makeup are better predictors of neighborhood change and markers of neighborhoods’ potential to gentrify. In addition, these findings demonstrate that transit-oriented gentrification is not modally linked; rather, domestic BRT, like rail, has the potential to change neighborhoods and may do so even without coordinated government investment. Therefore, policy makers must protect and provide affordable housing stock around BRT lines to safeguard incumbent residents from being displaced because of rising housing costs associated with gentrification.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.