Light Rail Investment and Its Impact on Commuting Patterns

Authors: Maryam Khabazi*, University of North Carolina - Charlotte, Isabelle Nilsson, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Topics: Transportation Geography, Economic Geography, Quantitative Methods
Keywords: Light rail, commuting patterns, industry, wage composition
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Coolidge, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Major transportation infrastructure is established to address daily trips between work place and home place. Perhaps one of the main goals of public transit investments is to connect people with jobs and increase employment rates by reducing spatial separation between workplaces and residents. However, improved accessibility through transit investments, affect economic agents’ location decisions and that consequently can affect commuting patterns in adjacent neighborhoods. In this paper we study which types of workers (by wage and industry sector) live and/or work in blocks within a quarter of a mile of light rail transit stations pre- and post-opening of the LYNX Blue line extension in Charlotte, NC, and how it affects commuting patterns in and out of rail transit accessible neighborhoods. Using LODES block level commuting data between 2002 and 2014, explores changes in commuting patterns pre-post opening of the light rail, using statistical techniques including spatial autocorrelation analysis and logistic regressions. The results suggest that low and middle wage workers in light rail accessible neighborhoods have not seen a significant change in the spatial separation between their work place and place of residence after the opening of the light. On the other hand, many of the high wage workers who reside in light rail accessible neighborhoods also work in neighborhoods accessible by the light rail. This pattern has strengthen after the opening of the light rail.

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