Should I stay or should I go? A survey analysis of neighborhood change and residential mobility concerns around new light rail stations in Charlotte, NC

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - impacts, mode - tram/light rail, place - north america, place - urban, planning - methods, planning - surveys


Public transit, Residential mobility, Neighborhood change, Surveys, Mixed methods


In this article, we examine the effects of rail transit investments on residents' stated mobility intentions and perceptions of neighborhood changes using a survey analysis in Charlotte, North Carolina. We ask residents in neighborhoods along a new light rail line about their reasons for residing in their current neighborhood, thoughts about moving and the light rail's effect on their neighborhood. To control for city-wide housing market pressures, responses from one station-adjacent neighborhood are compared to responses from residents in a similar neighborhood elsewhere in the city while controlling for individual characteristics. Using a mixed-methods research approach, we find that while residents attribute some changes in their property values and rents to the light rail, it is only one of many factors affecting their neighborhood. Light rail also does not appear to affect residents' stated propensity to move out of these neighborhoods. Survey respondents' view of the light rail's effect on their neighborhood is also positive, on average. We find that the stated likelihood of moving is not related to the distance to the station nor to how frequently a resident uses the light rail. This article contributes to debates on transit-induced displacement and gentrification and provides context to neighborhood-scale quantitative analyses from residents' perspective.


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


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