The relationship between transit rich neighborhoods and transit ridership: Evidence from the decentralization of poverty

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, land use - impacts, land use - planning, land use - transit oriented development, policy - equity, planning - service improvement, mode - rail, ridership - demand


Neighborhood, Transit ridership, Neighborhood change, Transit-oriented development, Poverty, Equality


The concept of transit-rich neighborhoods (TRNs) has become a focus of more interest as it relates to rapidly growing and congested communities, and it has received national attention because of its contribution to smart growth in the United States. Although most investment in transit services has been concentrated in denser central cities, where most transit users, including those of low income, reside, the trend toward the decentralization of poverty has become evident in many metropolitan areas and underscored the need to improve suburban transit services. Many studies pertaining to transit ridership have focused on the physical characteristics of stations, their catchment areas, and equity issues for low-income riders, particularly in central cities, without accounting for the evolving socioeconomic characteristics of the neighborhoods being served. To address this issue, this paper categorizes TRNs based on changing socioeconomic and spatial characteristics and uses multiple regression to examine the relationship between types of TRNs and transit ridership in the Atlanta metropolitan area, focusing on the decentralization of poverty. The results show that suburban TRNs became more diverse in terms of income and race between 2000 and 2009, which suggests that investment in commuter rail transit is an important contribution to social and economic equality at the regional level. Furthermore, poverty rates in suburban areas, compared to those in their downtown and inner-city counterpart TRNs, positively influence the percentage of transit ridership. The increased use of suburban transit services suggests the potential presence of increased latent demand, which is further supported by the decentralization of poverty.


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


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