Influence of Transit Station Proximity on Demographic Change Including Displacement and Gentrification with Implications for Transit and Land Use Planning After the COVID-19 Pandemic

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

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


transit station proximity, post COVID-19


A key purpose of fixed-route transit systems is to attract people and households to live near transit stations. There is very little research into the extent to which this occurs, however. This article is the first to apply a consistent methodology using census data to evaluate the extent to which people and households are attracted to transit stations. Using census American Community Survey 5-year sample data applied to 30 metropolitan areas for 2013 and 2019—a period between the Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic—we found that nearly all people and households were attracted to transit stations located within the first 100 m with very little occurring in the rest of the “½-mi circle” (about 800 m). With the exception of streetcar systems that serve mostly downtowns, we found that most of the change in residents in the first 100 m involved minority persons, which is somewhat inconsistent with displacement and gentrification expectations. Also, with the exception of streetcar systems, large to very large shares of all new households with children were attracted to the first 100 m from transit stations, which was again somewhat inconsistent with expectations. We use analysis to suggest implications for the post COVID-19 pandemic period. Although major cities have lost population as households have moved mostly into nearby suburbs, recent trends combined with data from preference surveys suggest that future demand for transit station proximity may be higher than before the pandemic. We conclude with long-term implications for transit and land use planning.


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