Residents’ expectations for new rail stops: optimistic neighborhood perceptions relate to subsequent transit ridership

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - urban, mode - tram/light rail, ridership - perceptions, ridership - behaviour, planning - surveys


Light rail, Ridership, Expectations, Neighborhood perceptions, Perceived walkability, GPS


Although complete street policies are proliferating, little is known about how nearby residents perceive and act on their new active transportation opportunities. We survey the same neighborhood residents before and after they receive a new complete street renovation with five new light rail stops. We compare Time-1 expectations to use rail with Time-2 evidence of rail use, based on both self-reported and objective GPS/accelerometer measures of ridership. We examine neighborhood perceptions of four groups, created by combining Time-1 expectations to ride with Time-2 ridership: No expect/no ride, no expect/ride, expect/no ride, and expect/ride. The strongest differences were between the no expect/no ride and expect/ride groups. The riders had more positive expectations for light rail’s impact on the neighborhood than non-riders; these broad expectations were more powerfully associated with rail ridership than individual barriers to use, such as time constraints or weather. More positive perceptions of the route to rail stops (pleasantness, traffic safety, and crime safety) were also held by riders. Some of the more positive perceptions helped distinguish between the expect/ride group and the expect/no ride group. These results underscore that increasing positive neighborhood perceptions might help convert expected riders into actual riders.


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