The suburbanization of poverty and changes in access to public transportation in the Triangle Region, NC

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, planning - service improvement, land use - impacts


Poverty suburbanization, Accessibility, Public transportation, Spatial analysis, Spatial panel data model


During the last 50 years, a number of economic forces led to noteworthy changes in the geography of poverty in the US. Employment decentralization and lack of affordable housing have resulted in many low-income households migrating to suburban areas, and as of today, the majority of the low-income population of metropolitan regions resides in the suburbs. Focusing on the Triangle Region, NC, this study systematically explores the changes in the geography of poverty and transit access over time to better understand how accessibility to transit has changed for the low-income residents. Spatial panel data models are also estimated to investigate the relationship between poverty and transit access at the neighborhood level and how it varies spatially and temporally, while accounting for unobserved heterogeneity and spatial autocorrelation. Results indicate that between 1990 and 2015, the outer-ring suburbs experienced the highest increase in both poverty and transit access, although improvements in transit access were lower in the recently urbanized areas within the outer-ring suburbs. Inner-ring suburbs experienced a substantial rise in poverty rate and low-income population, and a comparable increase in transit access. Central cities remained the areas with the highest poverty rate and transit access in the Triangle Region but experienced smaller changes over time compared to suburban areas. The findings of the econometric analysis suggest that poverty rate and transit access are not significantly related at the neighborhood level when time-invariant unobservable characteristics are accounted for.


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


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