Rail transit investments and economic development: Challenges for small businesses

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

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


Transit infrastructure investments, Economic activity, Commercial displacement, Mixed methods


This research explores the impact of a new light rail line on small businesses and small business owners' ability to stay in business. Employing a mixed-method approach including business turnover analysis, surveys, and in-depth interviews in a case study on Charlotte, North Carolina, this research offers insights on the economic development challenges faced by business owners during and beyond the construction phase, showing how the construction of a light rail can permanently alter accessibility and visibility of affected businesses. Contrary to the positive impacts and benefits of light rail transit often celebrated in literature, this study shows that the significant challenges faced by small businesses during and beyond the construction phase have caused commercial displacement and altered the commercial landscape in some neighborhoods along the line. This research highlights the importance of examining practices during the construction phase to assess light rail's impacts on commercial areas. It also offers a deeper understanding of displacement processes, and aims to identify effective strategies for business retention and mitigation programs to support small businesses.


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


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