What remains? The influence of light rail transit on discretionary income

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, mode - tram/light rail, economics - benefits, land use - impacts


Discretionary income, Light rail Transit, Affordability, Transportation costs


A growing number of studies examine the affordability benefits of living near transit, especially fixed-rail, with the assumption that transportation benefits of transit neighborhoods outweigh increasing housing costs. Yet these studies only compare housing and transportation costs. This study adds to the existing literature by investigating the influence of new light rail on changes in discretionary income in urbanized areas. We examine such changes from 2000 to 2010 at the block group level, comparing light rail neighborhoods (LRNs) and Non-LRNs, across 20 U.S. urban areas that opened light rail stations between this time period. Using descriptive statistical measures and OLS regressions, we find that while discretionary income decreased overall, neighborhoods with light rail provide a positive influence on discretionary income. Overall, our findings suggest light rail neighborhoods provide greater affordability benefits than non-light rail neighborhoods.


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


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