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Research Seminars & Workshops @ IRES

Driving reduction after the introduction of light rail transit: Evidence from an experimental control group evaluation of the Los Angeles Expo Line

Professor Marlon Boarnet
University of Southern California

Date: 7 December 2016(Wednesday)
Time: 4.00pm - 5.30pm
Venue: RMI Executive Seminar Room
Chair: Prof Deng Yongheng

Marlon Boarnet is Professor of Public Policy and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Spatial Analysis in the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. Prior to that appointment, he served as Vice Dean for Academic Affairs in USC’s Price School, responsible for educational quality in the Price School’s thirteen degree programs, which enrolled approximately 1,700 students. Boarnet also served as Director of Graduate Programs in Urban Planning and Development at USC Price from 2012 through 2015, directing one of the nation’s largest and oldest Master of Planning degrees and directing the Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Development.

Boarnet’s research focuses on land use and transportation, links between land use and travel behavior and associated implications for public health and greenhouse gas emissions, urban growth patterns, and the economic impacts of transportation infrastructure. He is co-author of Travel by Design (Oxford University Press, 2001), a comprehensive study of the link between land use and travel. Boarnet is a fellow of the Weimer School of the Homer Hoyt Institute for Real Estate, and he won the 2013 David Boyce award for service to regional science, presented by the North American Regional Science Association. He served on the governing board of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning from 2012 through 2015. From 2002 through 2014 Boarnet co-edited the Journal of Regional Science, a leading international journal at the intersection of urban and regional economics and quantitative geography. Boarnet serves as an associate editor of the Journal of the American Planning Association (since 2005) and is on the editorial boards of several other academic journals. Boarnet has published over 80 articles, book chapters, and non-book-length monographs in outlets that include the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Atmospheric Environment, Journal of the American Planning Association, Journal of Planning Education and Research, Journal of Regional Science, Journal of Urban Economics, National Tax Journal, Papers in Regional Science, Regional Science and Urban Economics, Transportation Research (Parts A, C, and D), Transportation Research Record, and Urban Studies. Boarnet was a member of the National Academy of Sciences / National Research Council Committee on “Relationships Among Development Patterns, Vehicle Miles Traveled, and Energy Consumption” which authored the report “Driving and the Built Environment.” He has been principal investigator on over two million dollars of funded research, supported by agencies that include the U.S. and California Departments of Transportation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the California Policy Research Center, the California Air Resources Board, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

There is a pressing need to estimate the magnitude and dynamics of the behavioural effects of transportation investments and policy. This article innovates by applying an experimental-control group research design to the case of new light rail transit service in Los Angeles, California. Only a handful of previous studies use an experimental design to assess impacts of light rail transit, and this is the first to use an experimental design to measure impacts on vehicle miles travelled, a key determinant of greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector. We administered an annual seven-day travel study to a panel of households in the vicinity of Los Angeles’ Expo light rail line before the 2012 start of rail service and twice after the line opened. We find that households living within walking distance (1 km) of the new light rail drove approximately 10 fewer miles per day relative to control households farther away. Rail transit trips among near-station households approximately tripled relative to households beyond walking distance. Such driving reductions among households within walking distance of new rail transit stations suggest that Los Angeles’ large rail transit investment, coupled with land use policy, has the potential to help achieve climate change policy goals. More broadly, experimental evaluation can provide insights into causality and patterns of travel behaviour change associated with planning policies.

For more information please contact IRES at 6516 8288 or 6516 6947

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