Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning (MCRP)


Planning, Development, and Preservation

Committee Member

Dr. Eric Morris, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Prof. Stephen Sperry

Committee Member

Dr. Timothy Green


This paper studies the changes in land use and population characteristics around station areas following the building of rail transit stations in 14 major cities in the United States from 1990 to 2010. It answers the question: how have investments in US rail transit made since the 1990s affected land use and demographics? It also looks at the specific effects of investments on population density, race, and ethnicity, means of transportation, median housing value, median household income, vehicle access share, occupations, and land use represented by the share of multifamily versus single-family housing. Using block group level US census data at three time periods and GIS boundary files from, as well as the spatially-matched rail stations, this research looks at the 0.5-mile buffer around rail stations as its treatment area and the 1-mile buffer around it, excluding the treatment area, as its control zone. It uses a combination of longitudinal and cross-sectional data. For its quantitative analyses, it uses GIS analyses and panel regression analyses to determine the overall impact of rail transit investments as well as the impact on stations that are near versus those that are far from the Central Business District. An investment in rail transit leads to an increase in the share of workers commuting by public transportation and a decrease in median incomes around the station. The investment also brings about the growth in non-white population around central city stations, an increase in the share of public transit, a decrease in the proportion of telecommuters, and a drop in the car share in areas that are far from the CBD, and a decline in median household income in both areas. However, the investment has no significant effect on population density, housing value, the share of multifamily housing, vehicle access, race, ethnicity, and the employment structure near the stations. The results show that the new rail transit stations or systems have helped disadvantaged populations, but that rail investments have ambiguous impacts on development and growth around the stations.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.