Date of Award

5-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)

Legacy Department

City and Regional Planning

Advisor

Morris, Eric

Committee Member

Nocks , Barry

Committee Member

Green , Tim

Abstract

ABSTRACT
Throughout the last several decades a growing emphasis has been placed on creating sustainable places through innovative planning practices. Urban designers, researchers, planners, and policy makers have continuously examined the land use transportation nexus in order to develop methods to efficiently guide transit funding to encourage alternate modes of travel.
The United States is in the middle of a paradigm shift in generational behaviors. Baby boomers are downsizing and according to the Urban Land Institute are looking for more location-efficient residences. Similarly, Generation Y's attitudes are focused on living and working in close proximity. They are also waiting longer to obtain driver's licenses and are instead looking for alternate modes of travel.
This study looks at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's rapid transit system through the scope of a linear regression analysis using 2010 rapid transit ridership data, 2010 Census data, 2006-2009 American Community Survey estimates, and 2011 employment data.
This thesis examines previously researched themes and provides a new look at the transportation / land use nexus. It concludes that neither an increase in population density nor an increase in job density increase transit ridership. Instead, the physical built environment has the most influence over transit ridership in the Massachusetts Bay. When streets are dense and highly connected, access to transit is more convenient, causing people's mode choice to shift from single-occupancy vehicles.
Governing bodies and transit agencies in the Massachusetts' Bay should create a close collaboration between municipalities, counties, and transit agencies if the MBTA wants to increase ridership levels on their rapid transit system. Land development regulations and zoning ordnances should encourage dense, well-connected streets and a high degree of land use mixing in areas where transit investments are likely to occur.

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