Kaid Benfield Archive


Does light rail improve neighborhood satisfaction? Maybe so, says a new Utah study

Kaid Benfield

Posted February 27, 2009 at 1:30PM

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In a study reported in the Winter 2009 Journal of the American Planning Association, Barbara Brown and Carol Werner of the University of Utah found that study participants who used a new light rail stop reported higher "place attachment" and greater "neighborhood satisfaction" than those who didn't.

The study area was an inner-city, revitalizing neighborhood in Salt Lake City.  Brown and Werner canvassed the neighborhood and took activity and attitudinal measurements both before and after the new transit stop opened.  The researchers also divided the study participants into three groups: those who did not use the new light rail stop; those who did, but who also had used light rail previously (from a stop farther away); and those who began using light rail only after the stop opened.

the study neighborhood was around the 900 South station on the TRAX line (by: John Ace Money Construction, Inc.)Controlling for other factors, Brown and Werner found that those who used light rail both before and after the new stop opened reported substantially higher levels of attachment to place and neighborhood satisfaction than did non-riders.  New riders also scored higher on those measures than did non-riders, suggesting that the transit stop improved their feelings about their community (though their scores were not as high as those for continuing riders). 

Those who did not use the new transit stop at all were substantially more likely to be obese and to take more car trips than either of the rider groups. 

If you are a member of APA, you can access the article online.  If not, you may purchase it.  A brief summary is here.